Adsense for Conceptual Artists

Monday, September 10th, 2007 · 10 Comments »

Now here’s a coincidence. It so happens that I’ve been kicking around the idea of taking on advertising again to cover the site costs, and just this morning I was complaining to the other spirits here in the Smoking Lounge about the problems with Google Adsense.

Me: The problem with Adsense is that it goes off keywords
Spirit of Adsense: High Paying Keywords. Get Millions of High Paying Adsense Keywords & Develop Adsense Pages.
Me: but it doesn’t do any other screening
Spirit of Adsense: Buy imported Oriental screens. Shoji Screens Starting at $69.00.
Me: so if you have a feminist blog with the word “feminism” in your posts or on your header
Spirit of Adsense: The Book Feminists Don’t Want You To Read. Women Who Make the World Worse, by Kate O’Beirne. Now at 34% off. $16.47 in hardcover.
Me: you get ads for anti-feminist things.
Spirit of Adsense: Discover the Truth about God’s Plan for Men and Women. Biblical Headship and Christian Submission.
Me: For example, you could write a post about those fake Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Spirit of Adsense: Pregnant? Scared? Alone?
Me: and lo and behold if Adsense doesn’t serve up an ad from a goddamn Crisis Pregnancy Center right there in your fucking sidebar!
Spirit of Adsense: Hot Sidebar Fucking Online. Watch Free XXX Videos.

It’s really annoying. This blog averages about 150,000 page views a month, a minuscule figure compared to a blog like Feministing, which I understand is actually visible from space. Still, it’s ten times the circulation of my local Auto Trader. I should at least be able to sell ad space for a 2000 TOYOTA CAMRY 4 Dr LE V6 Sedan, at, ac, pw, pdl, tilt, cc, CD, loaded, Exc Cond, MUST SEE.

But back to Victoria’s post. The porn-ad thing made her think of this guy, a conceptual artist who has created pollination porn for plants. Here’s the description from Reuters:

Conceptual artist Jonathon Keats… filmed a six-minute long video of plants getting pollinated, then edited his uncensored footage into a gritty black-and-white porn video. The result was what he claims to be the world’s first plant porn movie, “Cinema Botanica.”

“It is very boring but that is part of the essence of pornography, that it is very repetitive,” he said.

During September his film will be projected onto an audience of 60 house plants lined in rows at the 1078 Gallery, an alternative arts space in Chico, California – a venue Keats has dubbed “the world’s first porn theater for house plants.”

It’s a sublime demonstration, isn’t it? A row of house plants lined up in front of a screen where grainy pollination footage is being projected. When I read that I thought this Jonathon Keats person was a good guy, the kind of artist who is able to deconstruct our cultural narratives and expose the absurdities.* I thought he was a feminist.

I was wrong.

Keats says he chose pornography because “it is so innately appealing.” What? Innate? And appealing to whom? He cheerfully cites early nickelodeons and refers to “humans,” as if pornography were as natural and innocuous as breathing, as if he hadn’t the faintest idea that pornography is a cultural artifact of our misogynistic society. Is it possible he’s deliberately playing the fool? That was my first guess, given his record as a performance artist.**

But it seems he really is a fool when it comes to everything connected to gender and sexuality. I dug around and discovered that not only is Keats a fool, he’s also an anti-feminist and a historical illiterate (a not unusual combination). In a book review at Salon — a serious book review, written apparently of his own free will and not under duress or in a state of extreme intoxication — he said, “What was once the argument of the gentleman misogynist is now the line taken by the academic feminist: The sexual body is a dangerous thing, best shrouded from sight.” He referred to “hetero-patriarchal dominance” as a self-evidently absurd phrase, and went on to claim that “the academic feminist orthodoxy [wants] to keep the feminine body hidden from view, and female sexuality under wraps.” And finally, “the corset has been an instrument of liberation.”

I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Performance art! Gotta be! Clearly he’s just committed to his form.” Because really, who could be that stupid? But there’s more where that came from, since Keats regularly stinks up various online venues with his puerile ruminations. In one column he argued breathlessly that American Psycho was a work of “genius.” His own first novel was so sexist that even the distinctly non-feminist Publisher’s Weekly felt compelled to comment.

It’s a shame, because if Keats weren’t a pornhound (which I’m betting five hundred gazillion dollars he is), he might be able to think about sexuality with the same transgressive humor he brings to religion. Instead he’s in thrall to the age, soaking in the effluvium of an obscene culture, unable to recognize that his frame of reference is, indeed, a frame and not Eternal Truth.

Of course it’s possible that everything he writes about sex and gender is a knowing joke; that his entire output, including his own novel, is intended as ironic commentary. But if so, his stance is so indistinguishable from the dominant cultural narrative that whatever irony he may have intended has vanished. With no space between subject and object, not even the tiniest crack, there is no commentary. The joke’s on him.


*Remember the Kilgore Trout story about the planet where pornography consists of movies of people eating?

**From the SF Weekly story about Keats’ research into the genetic taxonomy of God, which included an experiment to breed God in a petri dish:

Keats believes that much of the debate about his approach would be unnecessary if field scientists (other than Keats, who doesn’t “like to go camping”) were to collect additional field notes on God. “At least footprints, so to speak, or droppings, so to speak,” he says. “I mean, I don’t want to be vulgar, but the more we can get a concrete picture of God, the better this research will be.”

I’ve been saying the same thing for years.

Filed under: Pornography, Reclusive Leftist · Tags:

10 Responses to “Adsense for Conceptual Artists”

  1. Victoria says:

    I figured if I probed further into the interwebs, I’d have found abundant material that would demonstrate that Keats was not only a complete freak, but also a patriarchal tool. Hope it was clear I wasn’t whatsoever endorsing him or his ridiculous plant porn. And, to be serious for a moment (look! I can be!), this whole trend of applying the “porn” concept to innocuous “objects” ranging from plants to food is problematic at best. (Coincidentally, someone whose posts I follow on Twitter just now, with great excitement, posted something about “Pottery Barn porn.”)

    What was I trying to do with that post? Mostly I was being mischievous, and it seemed like a good vehicle for (however tangentially) addressing the “ethics of feminist blog funding” debacle at Feministing, the absurdities of which quite deserved attendant absurd imagery. Hence, the plant porn image lifted from the Reuters piece.

    Also, please accept the caveat that I wrote that post in the midst of a 46-hour, sleepless manic episode. :)

  2. The Ghost of Violet says:

    Hope it was clear I wasn’t whatsoever endorsing him or his ridiculous plant porn.

    Absolutely clear, and I didn’t think that at all.

    This is actually a case where the artist has ruined his own work, because if he hadn’t commented on it, and if I hadn’t dug around to learn more about this guy’s output, I would have gone along thinking it was a charming anti-porn kind of piece. I was disappointed at what I found.

    His other work is funny (the God stuff, the John Cage ringtone, etc.), but about porn and feminism he’s a complete and utter tool.

  3. Victoria says:

    Whew! Glad that’s all nice and clear. Kudos also for fab research and analysis on this guy. I’ll be interested to see how you deal with the Adsense dilemma.

    As for me, I’m now actually blegging, and have myself a handy-dandy PayPal button that will now appear on the top of all my pages. After I allocated half my next disability check to going to the upcoming “Prostitution, Sex Work, and the Commercial Sex Industry” conference in Toledo and to site expenses (I’m due for renewal soon), I sorta had to.

    I’ve always loved your “Help support Dr. Socks’s heroin addiction today!” Amazon Tip Jar thingie… have you had any luck with that?

  4. Pastor Al E Pistle says:

    I’ve always loved your “Help support Dr. Socks’s heroin addiction today!” Amazon Tip Jar thingie… have you had any luck with that?

    My dear Madame! If you want donations, you have to give something in exchange. JESUS gives eternal life, and He paid for it with GOD’s favorite commodity: blood and death. For it is obvious that GOD wants your soul and thus has no use for you until you give it up….well, not YOU specifically…there is no Biblical evidence that women even HAVE souls. Souls, you see, are indivisible, like the American nation. Eve was made from Adam’s rib and Adam didn’t give up his soul, so women probably don’t have them.

    Anyway, Jesus paid in blood, but YOU (this time it IS you), must pay in the coin of the realm. In America it is usually cocaine or exotic birds or ivory tusks or works of art or national treasures which have been stolen by foreign hooligans and brought to this country for safekeeping, but at Landover, we still accept cash and credit cards.

    If you want GOD to work for YOU, then YOU must work for GOD! And let me tell you sister, GOD is not interested in a harlot’s convention in Toledo!

    But….ummmm..Some of the other Pastors and I might swing up there to try to convert a few of the women who have fallen off the path of righteousness. But we are also well known for our philanthropy! We support honest, Biblically correct and lawful sites like this one:

  5. Paul Tergeist says:

    I know this is old news, but Lidl required Czech and Polish women to wear special headbands

  6. The Ghost of Violet says:

    Paul, are you suggesting that I should wear a special headband here on the blog when I’m menstruating?

  7. The Ghost of Violet says:

    Victoria, I put up the heroin tip jar because a few people actually asked me to. I was surprised, but a couple of very nice folks emailed saying that they would like to be able to toss me a quarter, so I put up the jar. Every now and then some generous soul puts something in there.

  8. Victoria says:

    Pastor, I hardly know what to say.

    Violet, it doesn’t at all surprise me that folks would want to support your heroin habit. That shit gets expensive!

  9. Paul Tergeist says:

    Paul, are you suggesting that I should wear a special headband here on the blog when I’m menstruating?

    GHOSTS DON’T MENSTRUATE! Trust me to know these things.

  10. Pastor Al E Pistle says:

    Pastor, I hardly know what to say.

    Of course you don’t, dear. But it’s not a problem. When JESUS takes over you don’t have to say anything, or waste calories thinking. JESUS will do all of your thinking. I mean, what use would GOD be if people went around thinking for themselves? It would be anarchy and the patriarchy would fall. I can’t even imagine the horror if something like that happened. It would be the end of life as we know it.