Over at Nerve.com, Steve Almond takes on VH1′s “Rock of Love” and asserts the latest installment in the reality TV series, “Rock of Love Bus,” is, basically, pornography. According to Almond, the show is “eerily like a porn film,” absent, he says, feeling or intimacy, while everyone stands around groping and tonguing each other, nevertheless, and totally misogynist. But is “Rock of Love” misogynist — or reality? Being one of those touchy-feely, guy-writer types who’s always quick to discuss porn and whine about its misogyny, Almond sees “Rock of Love” as an exploration of all that is base and hideous in humanity. “In this sense,” Almond proclaims, “the program has managed to channel the dark heart of most hetero porn, which is not about the pleasures of physical congress, but the sexual humiliation of women.”
I wish I had a dollar for every time some feminist or wannabe-feminist dude trotted out this assertion, as if there’s a study lying around somewhere that proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt!, all “hetero porn” is misogynist. I’m sure in Almond’s storied career, which includes writing more stories for Nerve.com than anyone else on the planet and writing some book about candy, he’s seen a few X-rated movies, but I guess he hasn’t seen enough to have figured that not all pornography, not even all “hetero porn,” is dedicated to the systematic degradation of women.
Yet, what Almond struggles with deep in his sympathetic-to-the-plight-of-women heart, is that — gasp — his wife loves the show! Which raises some seriously disturbing questions — for him. “The first is why women like my wife watch shows that are so degrading to women.” What answer does Almond supply for her? “I think women are reacting to the pornification of the culture at large, the absurd and enraging pressure women feel to disfigure their bodies — via surgery or starvation — for approval.” In fact, he suggests, his wife is perpetuating the evils of our misogynist culture by … watching “Rock of Love.” And enjoying it. Oh, the audacity. The humanity!
I am a “Rock of Love” expert. (We all have our gifts.) I’ve watched every episode of every season of “Rock of Love.” I don’t watch the show because I hate women. I don’t watch the show because I want to bone Bret. I don’t watch the show because I am committed to perpetuating misogyny. I watch the show because it shows the reality of what it’s like to be a woman in the 21st century, in all its raging complexity. What it’s like to dream of getting married and feel compelled to manhunt, what it’s like to get all dolled up like a hooker but long to being loved for who you really are, what it’s like to want to find the right guy so bad that you’ll beat a bitch down to get him — if that’s what it takes to get your happy ending.
Of course, Almond doesn’t get that. He’s just some guy getting off on his own misogyny. What does he like about the show? In the end, he confesses he really wants to be Bret, king of the harem, living, as Almond admits, his fantasy: “the fantasy of absolute masculine dominion.” Whether it’s reality TV or pornography, the truth always comes out in the end.