Okay, heads up, I'm about to talk about rape and stuff.
I'm annoyed with James Deen.
See, when I first had the idea for this storyline, years ago, Max was going to recognize the dick pic as James Deen's. He was a super popular pornstar at the time, and totally the sort of dude Max would be enamored with. Heck, if you read Oh Joy Sex Toy, you probably recall Erika Moen did a comic devoted to James and his work (NSFW link), and another where she was, evidently, considering filming a scene with him (also NSFW link).
And, of course, this would lend itself nicely to all sorts of word play and misunderstandings ("Uhh, Max, I'm pretty sure James Dean is dead" "Yeah, and I don't think they taxidermied his weiner."). I could mention the Lemon Whores video (the intro to a porn, but actually pretty SFW). It'd be great. Lots of material to riff on.
And then, of course, Deen's ex-girlfriend and fellow adult performer Stoya posted on Twitter that he had raped her.
Of course, this being long after the fact and in the middle of an otherwise consensual relationship, the allegations were completely unprovable - purely he-said-she-said - which means that, in a court of law, Deen will never be found guilty; and in the court of public opinion, he will never be found innocent. This left me with a dilemma.
Do I keep the Deen reference intact? Would Max still express enthusiastic attraction to an alleged rapist? Would Max even be knowledgeable enough about the mainstream porn industry to be aware of the allegations? Perhaps this would be the final nail in my floating timeline - this, not Ellen's flip phone or memory of eighties cartoons, would finally stick Leftover Soup firmly in the past, a past before Stoya's allegations were made.
Ultimately, I went with Steven St. Croix instead. Seemed neater.
Currently, there is a trend among sex-positive feminist types to always believe rape accusations - after all, the percentage of false accusations is vanishingly small, and accusers usually face far more difficulty and humiliation than they gain attention and sympathy. Rape survivors need our support, no matter what. Of course, this obviously has lead to a backlash of meninist types trying to skew in the other direction - I know I certainly wouldn't like to hear that any accusation against me would always be believed and acted upon, no matter how flimsy. I think we all know some couples who have broken up so acrimoniously that one party would do virtually anything to hurt the other person, regardless of how noxious.
But James Deen is a unique case. Unlike most alleged rapists, we actually have footage - thousands of hours of it - of the man engaging in sex and sex-related acts. Is it possible to analyze this artist's oeuvre and, from it, determine whether or not he's the sort of person to commit sexual assault? (And, once we've perfected this analysis, can we perhaps use the same techniques on, say, Woody Allen or Bill Cosby?)
And I think yes, yes we can. Speaking as an artist myself, I do believe that any form of artistic performance - even fucking and grunting on camera - can carry with it a piece of the artist's mind and soul. I believe a practiced eye can suss out actual personality traits from even the most skilled and deceptive actor, given enough material to comb through.
But hey, we don't have to comb through all of it. Let's just look at that Lemon Whores clip I linked up above.
Now, that clip is funny. It's damn funny. I approve of it. The Internet is a richer place because that clip exists. I certainly don't want that clip to not exist any more.
And it's clearly improvised on the spot - porn of this nature isn't known for rigid scripts. Deen and his co-stars are being silly about lemons, and it's mostly, if not entirely, off the cuff.
And, if you stop and think about it for even a second, it's pretty goddamn horrible.
You see, in this clip, the term "lemon whore" is a tad misleading. Spoiler warning - at no point in the entire porn video (I checked) does Deen negotiate a mutually respectful and agreeable exchange of coitus for citrus. His co-star, Joanna Angel, is a "lemon whore" only the sense that she is a female human with an overriding desire for fruit. She steals lemons from Deen's tree, which prompts him to "teach her a lesson" with his penis. Last I checked, that's not how prostitution - or consensual intercourse - goes.
This video - facetious and funny though it may be - depicts sex as a punishment, sex as a weapon, and sex as something that men with power use against women who are powerless. More horrifically, it presents this vision of sex as something that we, the viewer, are expected to enjoy and masturbate to. Deen could have easily improvised a scene in which he asked why Angel wanted lemons so badly. He could have offered to willingly trade lemons for sex, or could have segued from a discussion about how Angel could grow her own lemon tree into a spontaneous sexy romp. I doubt the director would have yelled "cut", so long as they got down to fucking inside of sixty seconds.
Deen didn't do that. He chose to use his recognizable penis as a weapon.
So yes, much like Allen and Cosby, I think we can be reasonably confident, given his body of work, that Deen is a goddamn rapist.
So why did I pick Steven St. Croix instead?
Well, while it's true that "definitely never going to rape someone" is a title that can only be bestowed posthumously, I think St. Croix's body of work indicates someone with a little less ego, a little less toxic masculinity, and a little less cruelty. It indicates someone who finds humour in poking fun at himself, not at others (you all saw Pirates, right?).
Besides, it's realistic that Max would be able to recognize St. Croix's dick, given that the thing is curved like a damn boomerang.