I find myself amused by a lot of things lately. Political chicanery between the Left and the Right. The Media’s shrill coverage of said chicanery. “Fan Boys” and pop culture nerds’ hypocritical responses to the coverage of their sacred cows. Grown men (but not grown up men) complaining about the violation of their male rights while using some abstract pledge against unethical behavior in journalism as ammunition. Shitty movies. And the public, train-wreck behavior initiated by some attention starved celebrity. Part of my amusement is derived from being drunk off of the schadenfreude cocktail I imbibe in too much. The other part comes from the realization that “no, the issue here isn’t that I think people are dumber than I am. They are quite simply just dumb.” And so it was no surprise that I elicited a hearty chuckle when I read that yesterday’s Madonna wannabe Miley Cyrus (I soooo want to type “Miley RAY Cyrus”) has appeared in what might be a porn film. Not some private, home vid that got hacked out of her hard drive then unleashed throughout the internets. No, we’re talking about a professionally made, possibly true to form pornographic short movie.

In his article for Vice.com, Mitchell Sunderland begins with the aforementioned breaking news item then continues on to describe the context and thus we discover what his piece is really about. And therein lies the rub. But before I get into that I first want to describe how his article seemingly builds up to this crescendo before it finally takes a nosedive into something more “really? That’s what this is about?” However, I should also mention that I did enjoy his work and my article is certainly not meant to be a criticism of his writing or approach to the story he is reporting on. I should also add that I am huge fan of Vice in general. The point is, I find humor in how it revealed something greater than what is reported. Something to do with our expectations when it comes to reading an enticing headline only to be surprised or disappointed with what the story is actually about (in my opinion, The Huffington Post is the repeat offender when it comes to this. Not only do most of their headlines amount to nothing. But as it turns out, they are usually reporting on someone else’s story).

Using Sunderland’s article as an example, I’m going to break it down first in terms of how it pulls you in, what it seemingly promises and then what it turns out to be. First we have the headline “Pornhub and Miley Cyrus Are Bringing Sex Back To New York City.” Now that headline reels with expectation and confused befuddlement. Wait, you mean Pornhub.com? That Pornhub?? One of the popular aggregate websites that nearly ruined the porn industry with its free-to-view clips featuring various sexual permutations, fetishes, you name it? Gave rise to what NY Magazine now insists is a trend in “rimming,” a sexual act I just cannot wrap my mind around nor want to partake in because I’m too scared of getting pink eye? Are you telling me that Pornhub and Miley Cyrus are teaming up to do… wait. “Bringing sex back to New York City?” Huh. Never thought it actually left. I mean, as Sunderland points out, yes, there was a sort of cleansing of New York during the Giuliani administration. But sex certainly did not leave the city as a result of that. Where did it go to, exactly? Cleveland? Chicago? Paris, Texas? All Giuliani did was move the sexual landscape. An area in Manhattan known as the “Meat Packing District” used to be rife with sex clubs and S&M bars. Neither a morning, afternoon or evening would go by without walking past or being propositioned by a prostitute in that area. So during a specific moment during the 90s, the city began to clamp down on, then shut down these businesses (one of my favorite stories coming out of this period involved the closing of an infamous S&M club called The Anvil. Part of that process involved the City’s repossessing of all the equipment and sex toys contained within. Once that happened, the City indulged in something that was par for the course when came to suddenly possessing previously defined “criminal” artifacts: they threw an auction. That’s right. New York suddenly found themselves in the enviable position of selling whips, chains, leather dildoes, etc. to the highest bidder). So, yep, they eventually disappeared thus making room for art galleries, boutique hotels, high-end stores and restaurants and a lovely tourist attraction recycled from an abandoned, elevated train track called The High Line.

But some of these clubs opened elsewhere. And a lot of the blame with regard to the curbing of outwardly deviant behavior should rest on the shoulders of a serial killer named Aids. The internet and the inevitable advancement of technology should bare some responsibility as well, because this helped to shift the focus of where one could go to get immediate gratification. But people are still having sex. Still having sex with multiple partners. Still having sex in their homes and other places like public restrooms in bars, etc. If anything, the concept of sex is so out there we’ve become desensitized to the point where something like Burlesque has become mainstream, models pose nude on billboards and one of NYC’s more popular target destinations is The Museum of Sex. The problem has never been that “Sex has left New York City.” The problem is we’ve become so ADD addled when it comes to sex. It also doesn’t help that NYC might be the most developmentally arrested city in America next to Las Vegas. Where people in their 40s still view themselves as being in their 20s. Where any attempt at finding love and a committed relationship is cocked up by the uncertainty regarding whether there is someone better out there. Ergo, almost everyone is fooling around.

“But Eric,” you might ask. “How do you know this?” Well, let’s just say I’ve done some research – cough, cough – and leave it at that. But the trajectory of this particular Vice piece moves from “PORNHUB AND MILEY CYRUS!” to “MILEY CYRUS MADE A PORN!!” to “MILEY CYRUS MADE A PORN AND IT’S SCREENING AT THE PORNHUB.COM FESTIVAL!!” and that’s where I stopped and thought “WTF? Pornhub.com HAS A FILM FESTIVAL?!!” A conceit that’s ripe for satire right there!

Dear reader, it is at this point I must confess that I’ve indulged in a first bit of story baiting myself. Because Miley Cyrus did not, in fact, make a porn film. It is simply a music video showcasing her single “Tongue Tied” which apparently presents her in a stylized, “S&M-like” situation. And there is another issue that almost renders the story moot. Her public relations team has pulled the video from the festival. So while I’ve made the argument that sex has not left New York City, it appears that Miley Cyrus most definitely has.

Personally I have nothing against Cyrus. I’m not a fan of her music. Her onstage undulations do not offend me. If anything, I feel sorry for the girl because it seems (to me, anyway) that her tongue needs to be surgically removed from her lip. That’s a serious affliction, yo! But I am confounded as to why – after her much publicized, self inflicted portrayals on stage within a commercial, televised environment – just why a public screening during a Pornhub.com Film Festival would be too low even for her. Because this is when we reach the “oh. Is that it?” portion of my post. It turns out the famed porn aggregation website’s attempt to launch a film festival is just that: it’s a goddamned film festival! With, like, speakers and Q&As and press parties and shizzle. They’re even going to screen James Franco’s INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR a film I personally thought to be quite good and revelatory. Is it explicit in its presentation of gay sex? Absolutely. But there is clearly a larger idea going on there than just a pornographic reinterpretation of some scenes cut out of William Friedkin’s CRUISING.

So we go from the MILEY CYRUS/PORNHUB collaboration to the IT’S NOT REALLY A PORN MOVIE to the IT’S ACTUALLY A FILM FESTIVAL and end up with Cyrus not appearing at this event anyway. So that’s a let down. However, there is a final punch line. Granted, it’s a punch line that maybe no one outside of New York City would actually get. But it is a punch line for me nonetheless. You see, not only is Pornub.com throwing a legit film festival, it’s being held in Bushwick.

Oh. So that’s it!

New York City is made up of sections known as boroughs. And each borough is broken up into neighborhoods. For example I live in the borough known as Brooklyn. Other boroughs include Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx and Manhattan (the island commonly referred to as “The City” or “New York City” when, in fact, it is just “Manhattan”). Although Brooklyn is my borough, my neighborhood is Bushwick. As in: Bushwick, Brooklyn. Got that? Okay! So, yeah, I live in Bushwick. In fact, many of the CineFiles episodes you’ve seen were shot in Bushwick. Our STAR WARS two-parter was shot in the fantastic, comic themed bar Gotham City Lounge. That bar is in Bushwick. Other episodes were shot in my apartment… also in Bushwick. In fact, in fact, not one but two contributors to this very site stayed with me in Bushwick while covering the 2013 Comic Con and they got drunk in Bushwick off of some heavy quantities of absinthe bought in Bushwick.

Bushwick has had an interesting history both as a neighborhood and as a… target? Victim? Beneficiary of gentrification? It took a long time for those not familiar enough with the nabe to seek it out. At one time, it harbored the Brooklyn beer brewing industry. Both changes in civilian demographics, the harsh economics of the 1970s and the final nail in the coffin that was the NYC Blackout of 1977 then hit it hard. It took a really long time for Bushwick to recover from this, folks. To the extent that it didn’t experience its current gentrification until only seven years ago. That was around the time I moved here. The first year my pad was a place to hang my hat and rest my weary head. The rent was cheap for the size of the space and I was only two blocks away from public transportation. The next year a restaurant opened up that single-handedly changed everything. Roberta’s, a restaurant so successful they’ve actually opened a restaurant inside the restaurant, became the target destination for foodies and the City’s elite. And so everyone else decided to up their A-game. Since then, Bushwick has become the capital of hispster culture. That title used to be owned by the neighboring section of Williamsburg. Which incidentally is home to Vice’s main office. Not only that, it can be argued that it was Vice Magazine who popularized “Hipster Chic” for the rest of the world, an aesthetic that Williamsburg happily embraced. There was a time when real estate agents would entice unwary, potential renters by calling areas of Bushwick “East Williamsburg.” But things have changed so much now that areas legitimately designated as East Williamsburg are being labeled as “Bushwick.” In some ways Bushwick has become more authentically “hipster-ish” than Williamsburg ever was. So much so that even the hipsters’ beards have better taste in music than you.

In lieu of Bushwick co opting the whole hipster craze, one might be tempted to call Bushwick the “New Williamsburg.” However, I would argue that what has happened here is more comparable to what happened to a Manhattan neighborhood called “Soho” during the 1980s. Artists, writers, bohemians from all walks of life descended upon the cheap rent and large lofts while often cohabiting in illegal spaces and thus a whole new neighborhood transcended into something that is now too expensive to exist. A similar thing is happening in Bushwick particularly when it comes to a thriving arts scene not unlike Soho’s of the 1980s. Bushwick Open Studios, a major art event, has increased in size since its inception five years ago. Each summer, people from all over the world invade Bushwick while searching for the new Basquiat. So not only is my nabe “hipster-ish” it is also arty as all fuck. Behind my building there rests a cathedral-sized church that threw major art parties for one, straight year (it has since been redeveloped as a condo). It was large enough to house a BEYOND THUNDERDOME event, where you could climb an actual full-size Thunderdome set and throw your five dollar PBR cans at the performance artists battling it out below. “TWO MEN ENTER! ONE MAN LEAVES” was ecstatically chanted for all of Brooklyn to hear. But it was one thing being a performance art event. It was a hipster art event. Therefore, it was all about the irony of that presentation.

And that is what Bushwick is about these days, peeps. It may not be the prettiest place on Earth as there are a lot of industrial eyesores littered all over the hood. But in some respects living in Bushwick is like being a part of a cult that for some reason wants every day to be like Burning Man in Nevada. A place where Hipsters-Hippies do all sorts of crazy things while demanding to have their latte fix, their lamb burgers and their bespoke cocktails reachable at arm’s length. The kind of place where a film festival, sponsored by Pornhub.com no less, would feel right at home. And that’s the punch line. OF COURSE THEY WOULD DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS IN BUSHWICK. BECAUSE IT’S SOOO BUSHWICK!!! Unfortunately, this is the final factor that reneges on the promise made by the Vice.com headline. Because it is no longer amusing that Miley Cyrus might have made a porn video. Because she never did. Nor is it amusing that she’s teamed up with Pornhub.com to bring sex back to NYC because they have not teamed up, nor is Cyrus going to appear, nor has sex actually left NYC. Even the potential “wtf?” promise behind a Pornhub.com film festival is rendered obsolete due to the fact that it is not only a legit film fest, but also a Bushwick film fest. If anything, just the irony of the lack of irony within Vice.com’s attempt at finding irony is hilarious enough.

In closing, let this be a warning to you: be wary of headlines promising a wealth of riches beyond what they can afford. Using my article as an example, I’ve managed to lure you in with the promise of a NSFW article on Miley Cyrus porn but guided you through the history of a Brooklyn neighborhood instead. Neat trick, huh? But at least it was informative. Hey, its not like I’d lure you in then talk about some other writer’s take on the Kanye West speech at the Grammys.

Because that would be click bait.

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