Smut has become the new secondhand smoke: It confronts you against your will where you least want to encounter it, and it’s impossible to protect your children from it. Nothing made this clearer than the Janet Jackson episode during the Super Bowl when millions of kids were exposed to an image that used to be restricted to consenting adults. But that’s nothing compared with the sexuality that now saturates morning radio shows, prime-time sitcoms, pop music lyrics, billboards, and store windows. "Just change the channel" doesn’t work anymore.
Enough, says Penthouse and Maxim writer Gil Reavill, the concerned father of a middle school daughter. As a liberal, Reavill always believed that Americans have a First Amendment right to read and view sexually explicit material, and he saw nothing wrong with contributing to publications like Screw. But he now argues that unlike magazines and videos—viewed in private and by consent—smut in the public square has simply gone too far.
Reavill takes the reader inside the sex entertainment industry, recalling his own experiences as a young man from the Midwest seduced by a job at an X-rated magazine in New York City. With witty and fascinating stories, he shows how his colleagues rebelled against a stifling culture by pushing the envelope. Little did they realize that words and images considered porn in the 1980s are now on the public airwaves around the clock.
Many Americans instinctively defend smut because censorship strikes them as unacceptable. But Reavill argues that we have to balance the rights of those who want to buy smut with the rights of those who want to avoid it. His book will spark a long- overdue debate about where we draw the lines in pop culture.
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Gil Reavill is the coauthor of Raising Our Athletic Daughters: How Sports Can Build Self-Esteem and Save Girls’ Lives. He writes about true crime for Maxim and has a cultural review column in Penthouse.From Publishers Weekly:
Reavill says that he wrote this book because the ways that we can access smut have multiplied "staggeringly, exponentially, absurdly." People who don't like it are "getting it shoved in their faces." And he admits he wants his middle school-aged daughter to grow up in a world that's "less trashy" than the one he believes we're living in now. In this made-for-the-choir work, the men's magazine insider (Reavill writes for Maxim and Penthouse) offers a highly personal account of what he finds wrong with explicit advertisements, children's television, the video game rating system and other popular culture mediums. "I am a staunch believer in the First Amendment," he insists, "but there is a whole boatload of things to say about balance and moderation." In generally restrained prose, Reavill explains what is currently being done to censor public indecency and what he believes needs to be done. Among his recommendations: use filtering devices for television and the Internet, implement an "acceptable use" policy for your family's Internet use and insist on "voluntary G-rated display policies" for local signage companies and newsstands. Reavill writes from an unusual perspective, which should bring attention to a book that may have otherwise been dismissed by many.
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