|Sexualization and assholia: bosom buddies?|
by Andy Nowicki
(The following is an excerpt from "Welcome Back Chaos," Andy Nowicki's upcoming memoir/manifesto.)
At the age of 12, I still clung to my own innocence with a desperate tenacity. Still, I knew on some level that it was a lost cause. During the summer of 1983, as a rising seventh grader, I recall one incident at the neighborhood pool which somehow put things in a queasy sort of perspective.
Earlier in the day, my friend and I had taken in the summer popcorn flick WarGames—featuring young, mop-topped Matthew Broderick and stern, middle-aged, mustachioed Dabney Coleman—in which a cocky teenage genius manages to hack into a national security computer system, and in so doing nearly sets off World War III. The movie, with its fantastic premise, appealed to our still-childlike sense of wonder, while also tapping into a certain budding anxiety, wherein adolescence is synonymous with chaos and catastrophe.
Indeed, read a certain way, WarGames can be seen as a sort of cautionary tale about unchecked post-pubescent lust and hubris. In it, the brilliant, horny, and morally bankrupt Broderick’s efforts to impress his pretty classmate Ally Sheedy take form not only in rampant dishonesty (when he breaks into their school’s computer files and changes her failing grade in one class to an “A”), and insufferable behavior (when he humiliates his prissy, hapless science teacher in front of the class), but also in him nearly being single-handedly responsible for destroying the world.
In spite of his computer nerdery and irrepressible sociopathy, however, Broderick’s character is presented as the ultimate in cool; his overall assholish behavior is not only excused, but celebrated, on account of him being young, and therefore in some sense sympathetic and righteous, or so one would be led to believe. My friend Kevin and I enjoyed WarGames a good deal, though if I’d been totally honest, I would have admitted to a secret, unspoken disquietude regarding this subtext. Still, I’d found myself admiring Broderick, despite, or even (more disturbingly) because of his patent and unrepentant fuckheadedness. Part of me actually wanted to be that asshole. He did, after all, succeed at getting the girl, didn't he? Clearly, nice guys finished last. Nice guys didn't get to kiss Ally Sheedy.
After returning from the movie theater, Kevin and I put on our swimming trunks and headed to the pool. At "ten minute break" time, the mandated adult swim segment at the tail end of the hour, we sat on our towels, sipping our Fanta Grape sodas, obtained for 40 cents—a mere quarter, nickel, and dime—from the cheerfully humming vending machine in the corner, a contraption for which I felt an almost sentimental attachment, since it struck me as a kind of benevolent mechanical genie, kindly summoning refreshment whenever called upon to do so… Our hair wet, our eyes red with the irritation of chlorination—never a terribly unpleasant sensation, as it, along with the beastly heat, heralded the wondrous onset of summer—my best mate and I slouched in contented silence for a moment, imbibing our high fructose corn syrup and listening to the crickets from the nearby shaded woods rend the sultry air with their full-throated song. I fell into a kind of pleasant trance, daydreaming of Ally Sheedy's lustrous hair and lovely smile.
|Ally Sheedy, kisser of assholes.|
Gradually, Kevin and I were pulled from our mutual reveries by the faint, low rumble of grunts and mumbles. A laconic exchange was taking place between two boys standing about ten yards away from us. They were a few years older—maybe around 15 or 16—and their talk was heavily spiced with belches, profanities and indelicate references to girls. They pronounced their opinions without resonant emotion, in that dismissive “too cool to care” manner de rigeur among boys their age. One of them mentioned that he planned to see WarGames that night.
At this, Kevin felt emboldened to break in. “That's a GOOD movie,” he declared, a bit too loudly.
I recall distinctly that at this moment, Kevin spoke in a way that studiously avoided enthusiasm, attempting to match their absence of tonal affect, and in so doing, to suggest that he was one of them. At this unexpected interruption, the two boys turned their pimply faces to study us. One of them smirked immediately and turned away again, but the other kept his coolly appraising eyes upon us, not speaking for a long moment. I looked down at the grassy earth, ashamed of my friend, whose avid cinephilia clearly exceeded mine.
Then I heard the staring boy state, in the same droll, even tone, “You two guys look like you’d make GOOOOD butt-buddies!”
His companion chuckled, and then the two older boys went back to talking to one another again, ignoring us. I didn't look at Kevin at this moment, but I'd imagine that his face fell. I also expect that his lip quivered ever so slightly. I wish I could say that I took up for him, or that I at least tried to cheer him up, but I can't say that I did. In fact, I even resented him for turning me into the butt of a taunt, however inadvertently.
What had just happened was clear to us, even at the time: Kevin had tried to establish a connection with this “cool” pubescent kid, and the kid had in turn taken advantage of this opportunity to display withering contempt for his inferior, to put down this mere child who’d made the mistake of openly showing his desperate desire to belong, by citing what he naively held to be an incontrovertible, bone fide fact, which would help to ingratiate him with these older lads, so deliriously appealing in their authoritative, hyper-masculine demeanors. And the layers of irony were thick indeed, for Kevin had made this effort through speaking positively about WarGames, in which a coolly cruel teenage boy displays a propensity to put the “uncool” in their place, even at the risk of wiping out the human race.
My friend and I thus became stand-ins for the science teacher whom Broderick’s character taunts, and in largely the same manner. In an early scene of WarGames, the instructor in question asks his class who first came up with the idea of reproduction without sex, and Broderick—smartass, dickish little runt that he was—fires back, “Your wife!” That is, he mockingly suggested that his teacher has no sex appeal, to the point where even his own wife loathed the notion of screwing him.
|Bitches love assholes!|
Similarly, this teenage boy at the neighborhood pool with the cultivated deadpan voice and the barely conspicuous sneer struck at Kevin and I by calling us “butt buddies,” with all of the concomitant resonances that are contained in such a term. That is to say, he cut us down to size and put us in our place by suggesting that we were unattractive to girls, and would have to settle for having gay sex with one another.
Thus, although neither of us thought of this at the time, a unique and compelling sort of parallel manifestation had occurred in our cinematic observations and our actual lives, one which would have confirmed my troubled mind’s inchoate rumblings, had I only been sensitive to the significance of such an instance of syncronicity. In fact, as both the WarGames scene and our poolside encounter confirmed, the onset of sexualization is accompanied by a spike in assholishness, yet more proof that carnal awakening signals the demolition of innocence and the inception of corruption.
Can there be any mystery, really, as to why Jesus Christ declared that anyone who wished to enter the Kingdom of Heaven needed to come as “little children”? Prepubescent children are non-sexual beings, whose motivations are entirely untouched by carnal considerations. They neither desire to have sex, nor are they afflicted by any of the secondary itches that accompany the process of becoming sexualized. That is to say, they are not obsessed with status, or desirous of popularity, or intent upon humiliating those beneath them, the better to impress the opposite sex with their strength, power, and ostensible prestige. They are therefore, generally speaking, pure of heart, and free from moral wretchedness.
Andy Nowicki, co-editor of Alternative Right, is the author of seven books, including Under the Nihil, The Columbine Pilgrim, Considering Suicide, and his latest, Beauty and the Least. He occasionally updates his blog when the spirit moves him to do so.