My Parents Had a Party
Please Shut the Fuck Up About Game of Thrones
Earlier this week, Games of Thrones—the thing that people on the internet now love more than anything else in the whole world—returned for another season. For some reason, it’s a show that people have only ever felt comfortable describing to me IRL in alliterative HBO comparisons: “The Wire with wizards,” “The Sopranos with swords,” and so on. I haven’t watched it yet, and to be honest, I probably never will.
And it’s not because I don’t have HBO Go, or because every time I’ve tried to torrent something I’ve just ended up with a frozen download bar and tons of pop-up ads for dick pills. It’s because I have an innate aversion to anything that can be described as “fantasy.”
We all know the clichés of the fantasy fan: the Games Workshop employee who sighs when children don’t know how to play the game properly. The people who found their cultural Garden of Eden in the graphic-novels section of Borders some time in the late 90s. Their cultural trajectory took them from Redwall to Red Dwarf to Reddit, and now they argue loudly in small-town bars about how Bruce Lee died. They hate fashion in all its forms, yet they yearn to look different. To get around this, all of their clothing must refer to something else. Be it an oversize Alan Moore–style amulet or one of those “Afraid of the dark, Lagerboy?” T-shirts.
The mission statement of Game of Thrones, though, is that it isn’t just meant for those people. It’s for people who like True Detective, Donna Tartt, and the National. It’s sexier, it’s full of great actors, it’s about politics, and people die all the time. You can talk about it at parties, and people won’t laugh at you! But as much as its audience protests that GoT isn’t just for people who love arguing about dragons, my aversion to anything that could be described as “fantasy” runs far deeper.
In truth, I really don’t care whether Game of Thrones is more like “Mad Men with magicians” than Dungeons & Dragons or whatever. It’s a lifelong problem; the same one that made me fall asleep in the first Lord of the Rings film, walk out of the second, and completely ignore the third (not to mention The Hobbit, which was even disliked by many people who loved LOTR).
Examining the Pull of Group Masturbation Parties
Of the various group masturbation parties 30-year-old nudist Kyle Rudd has attended over the years, the biggest one drew a dozen-odd men, predominantly over 50. He was the third to arrive that night, and when he walked inside, the host and another guy were already naked. As the remainder of the guests sauntered in, conversation centered on things like work, how the week had been, and the bodies and penises on display. Rudd did most of his masturbating—a blend of group and solo—from the vantage point of the organizer’s couch and managed to ejaculate on himself three or four times in six hours. In the breaks between these bouts of industry, Rudd, a Melbourne-based arts-sector employee, spent his time socializing, drinking beer, and eating pizza.
While some men might prefer to spend their weekends watching the game or relaxing with the family, Rudd says he had a great time.
“I find genitals to be very erotic—ten out of ten,” he says. “For me, I think being exposed and on display is very erotic. It’s knowing that others are admiring your genitals as they mutually get off on it.”
For anybody entertaining the idea of attending a group masturbation party, the grassroots DIY scene is a fertile field of opportunity, according to Rudd.
A global scene of 20,000 doll makers and collectors has developed around life-like replicas of newborns called Reborn Babies. The price of these dolls is usually anywhere from $250 to $800, depending on their complexity and level of detail. The most expensive doll, made by artist Romie Strydom, was sold to a collector for 22,000 euros—or around $30,000.
Inside the Sad World of Adults Pretending to Be Kids for Retweets
Can you imagine taking a few hours out of your day to sit down with a crayon and forge a child’s exam paper? Or trying to convince thousands of people that one of your kids picked up a bra and dropped a witty quip about it being a “booby trap”? If the answer is “yes,” then you might not be as weird as you think. You might just be one of the legions of “Twitter comedians” who present clearly fabricated child-related anecdotes as things that really, definitely happened, purely to pick up brownie points from strangers on the internet.
That’s right: adults lying about stuff kids said is the new animals doing funny faces on the internet. After all, what are kids but animals with slightly better communication skills?
In terms of the trend’s Twitter popularity, it’s not yet up there with people arguing about David Moyes or RTing “Brazil smiles when Niall Horan smiles.” But these types of fake tweet are slowly colonizing the platform and the multitude of viral websites that feed off of it. It’s a phenomenon that is clearly bullshit; bad jokes told like news stories, fallen for and spread by idiots. A bit like crop circles.
The formula is simple: Think of a phonetic mistake that’s vaguely amusing but that a child is unlikely to have made in real life—getting “the Smurfs” mixed up with “The Smiths,” for example. In an ideal world, this phonetic mistake will hint at some higher truth about humanity; the more sentimental, the more chance your fake tweet has of being picked up by UpWorthy and shunted around the internet by moms who just got Facebook. Attribute this quote to your unknowing children, post it on Twitter, and hope it goes down as well as this one did with all the twee people on there who spend their time making jokes about badgers and biscuits:
Like most twee things, it’s difficult to figure out quite why it’s so annoying. It’s not that it harms the world in any specific, grievous way. There are certainly far more worrying things to stress about. And it’s not like I make a habit of playing Twitter cop. There are many other types of lies on Twitter that I don’t understand but that I don’t give a second thought to. There’s just something about this trend and its flagrant attention seeking—not to mention its cynical use of kids as props for added “ahhhh” factor—that really grates on me. If you’re being highfalutin, it’s a weird and sad nadir in the continued internet-driven devolution that’s turning fully-grown adults into infants. If I’m saying it straight, I just wish irritating people would stop trying to con me.
What Does It Mean to Be a Teenager Today?
Seventy years ago, teenagers didn’t exist. I mean, they did, but nobody called them that—they were called “our future workforce” and wore suits and smoked pipes and took elocution lessons when they were 13. You went to bed one day a child and woke the next morning an adult. But by the end of WWII, the idea of adolescence had evolved from a few years spent getting ready for a life as a coal miner or a lawyer into the Best Years of Your Life. Then, in 1945, the New York Times published an article defining this bizarre new word—”teenage”—and the concept became a part of the public consciousness.
A few years ago, music writer and cultural historian Jon Savage wrote a book about all that called Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945. The film adaptation of his book, directed by American filmmaker Matt Wolf and with an original score by Bradford Cox, gets its UK cinematic release on January 24. I gave both of them a call to talk about youth movements new and old and how great life is when you’re a teenager.
VICE: At the beginning of your film you say that the idea of the teenager is a wartime invention. Were there any pre-war youth movements that you left out?
Jon Savage: They weren’t pre-war, but the ones who didn’t make it in are the Zazou. They were a French group in occupied Paris in the early 1940s who loved black American swing music—which was forbidden—wore English clothes, threw hidden parties, tried to avoid forced labor and, you know, annoyed the Gestapo. They also did something else fabulous: When the laws came in about wearing the yellow star, they made their own stars that, instead of “Jew,” said “Swing.” Then there were others that we didn’t get into too much detail about—the back-to-nature movements of the 20s, like the Wandervogel.
Oh yeah, the German proto-hippies who got naked and hung out in forests. Did that movement start during the First World War?
Jon:No, they actually began in about 1900 in Germany.
So it wasn’t a reaction to the war?
Jon: Well, it was a reaction to the militarization and industrialization of German society. There was also a generation gap between adolescents and their parents, and by the 20s there were lots of different groups. In fact, it’s bewildering the amount of groups there were by then, ranging from proto-fascist groups to hippies.
Cry-Baby of the Week
The incident: A man noticed a spelling mistake on a sign.
The appropriate response: Instagraming/tweeting it.
The actual response: He allegedly tried to blow it up.
According to police, 50-year-old Leonard Burdek walked into the offices of the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission in Salem, Oregon on Wednesday afternoon carrying a pressure cooker with wires sticking out of it.
He dumped it on the front desk and told the people working there that he’d just unsuccessfully tried to blow up their sign, as there was a spelling mistake on it.
The sign in question was meant to say “Teacher Standards and Practices Commission,” but a “d” was missing from the “and,” making it read “Teacher Standards an Practices Commission.”
Office staff said “d” may have been scraped off or had worn off over time.
Leonard fled when the workers called the police. Apparently, before leaving, he complained that the instructions he’d used to make the bomb contained spelling mistakes.
Police arrested Leonard after spotting him nearby, and he was charged with disorderly conduct.
Apparently Women Love This 13-Year-Old Skateboarder Named Baby Scumbag
Steven Fernandez, aka Baby Scumbag, is just a normal 13-year-old skater from a bad neighborhood in LA. A normal 13-year-old skater who’s sponsored by a bunch of companies, has 38,000 subscribers onFacebook and 140,000 followers onInstagram, and gets photographed with guns and sexy (adult) women. He’s been skating since he was nine (here’s a video of him at 11), but unlike other absurdly talented kids likeRene Serrano and Evan Doherty, he’s developed a whole persona that revolves around trying to get girls and eating junk food (again: typical 13-year-old). It’s hard to tell how much of that is him putting on an act and how much of that is real, but either way, young Stephen knows more about what people on the internet like than all the “social media gurus” two and three times his age put together. I called him to ask what he wants to be when he grows up.
VICE: Hey, Steven how’s it going? I didn’t force you to miss school, right?
Baby Scumbag: Hey, VICE lady. Just chillin’. Just got home from school. Got out a little early.
You like school, or what?
Yeah, school is cool, but it’s kind of tough out here in poverty. You see a lot bad stuff around here, like gang-related stuff, drugs. I live in Compton, California. The border of South Central.
So, you’re super popular at school, right?
Nah, I’m just a normal kid going to school. An average teenager.
How did you get start getting sponsored?
Well it all started when I had posted a video of skateboarding, and people actually enjoyed watching the video. As I started making more videos, I started getting more sponsors as well.
What’s a typical day in the life of Baby Scumbag?
Hang out at school, homework, skateboarding, maybe even go film. And a little masturbation.
Illustration by Alex Cook
Gay marriage is going to be legal.
After this week’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, it’s unlikely that the robed elders who run our society will declare that gays have the same rights to marry that straights do all over the US, but they will probably strike down the blatantly bigoted DOMA. But no matter what the court says, the public’s broad support of letting two people who love each other being able to marry each other and get the rights that come with marriage—no matter what equipment they’ve got down there—means that sooner or later, and probably sooner, two men or two women will be able to legally wed each other. It’s taken too long, sure, but that day isn’t too far off. But if two men or two women can get married, what’s stopping two men and two women from getting hitched?
The idea that after gay marriage is legalized, polygamy will be next—and then bestiality and legal unions between lawn mowers and volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica and so on—is one of the main arguments that social conservatives trot out to “defend traditional marriage.” (It’s right up there with “think of the children!” and “the Bible says…”) Stanley Kurtz made that argument nearly ten years ago in The Weekly Standard, and it got brought up again in several briefs filed this week with the Supreme Court by anti-gay marriage advocates. It goes like this: if the purpose of marriage isn’t to produce children and traditional one-mom, one-dad homes, if it’s just a legal arrangement between folks who really like each other, what basis can there be to deny triads and quads who want legal recognition of multiple-partner marriages?
Actually, yeah—why are polyamorous marriages between consenting adults illegal?