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Can You See Me Now?

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 OPINIONS


 


 

Lord but it is a good time to be a pervert.
    In the beginning, of course, was the cellphone. Ubiquitous, utterly obnoxious, absolutely mandatory. Like many deliciously wicked underworld creations (espresso, Pottery Barn, Kylie Minogue), it was a runaway success.
    The time was ripe. The seeds were sown. Because shortly thereafter came the reasonably affordable digital camera. Filmless, immediate, limitless, revolutionary . . . naughty as hell. And lo, it was good.

promotion

    And almost instantly did an entire generation of grateful newbie camera-sporting perverts discovered a whole world of instant self-made amateur smut, of snapshot erotica, funky sexy dirty badly lit close-ups of your girlfriend sucking this or your boyfriend penetrating that.
    All about the illicit wickedness that comes with the knowledge that you can, right now, shoot infinite snapshots of, well, anything you want, anytime, at any stage of nakedness or insertion or orgasm or masturbatory moan, for free, just to see how they look, review and ogle and delete, email or archive or print, because it’s dirty and easy and fun and they never have to be gawked at by some twitching guy at the one-hour photo. Genius.
    And it was only a matter of time before the two worlds should merge, a convergence of the technological twain, before popular digital cam technology should penetrate the wildly ubiquitous cellphone underworld.
    Thus transforming, in one divine swoop, not just how we snap photos, not just how we communicate, not even how we snap photos to communicate. But rather, how we get off snapping photos to communicate how we get off. Viola: the new digital cellphone/camera hybrid, now available, yours for upwards of 100 bucks, soon to be everywhere.
    You’ve probably seen the commercials: Girl spots best friend’s boyfriend macking on some skank at a club, snaps instant five-second cellphone video clip, shoots it over to best friend at library. Friend sees clip, is briefly shocked, right until she looks up and makes eye contact with hot new guy across the room. Coy smiles ensue, slimeball boyfriend is suddenly ex-boyfriend. Voila. Relationship revolution, not a word spoken. Elapsed time: twenty seconds.
    Commercial #2: Myopic citizen hustles through city streets, looking down into purse, wallet, focusing on one little activity while crazy photogenic circus of life whirls around them. If only you had a cool digital cellphone camera to take it all in! implores the commercial. To instantly record this daily phantasmagoria and send to yourself and look at later on your computer and sigh wistfully at the craziness of life! Indeed.
    Do you think they knew? Do you think the sly bastard marketing execs at Nokia or Ericsson or the rest realized what an erotic porn-ready firecracker gizmo they had on their hands? You’re goddamn right they did.
    But of course they can’t market them as such. Not yet, anyway. Can’t dare be accused of courting the pervert market, of winking at the sleazy upskirt aficionado, or dare be connected to that priest-caught-with-eighty-gigs-of-cellcam-kiddie-porn-on-his-Dell ghastliness. So they’re stuck delivering subtle hints, innuendo, winks.
    Now here’s you. Delicious pervert that you are, you take those innocuous scenarios one small, dirty step further. Because this is how you think. You think: instant private cellphone pics and video clips? Sent to anyone, anytime, anywhere, instantly, while doing anything, for pennies apiece? Aha.
    Here’s you, snapping a furtive stealthy cellphone video clips of yourself, say, masturbating at the office, in your lonely far-flung cube, hand down your bulging Dockers, to quick-send to girlfriend who’s right now driving to the airport or to her mother’s. Yay technology!
    Here’s you, trying on lingerie in the Cosa Bella department, snapping instant pics of various body-licking garments and sending them to his phone/email while he’s at the office, a personal fashion show: Like this thong, love? Maybe this teddy? How about this lacy hip-hugger thing that you’ll rip off my ass later tonight right before you fuck me silly because I’m getting you all hot and hard and hungry via this crazy luscious instant cellcam technology? God bless Nokia.
    Here’s you, on the plane, in the tiny bathroom, rock hard or deeply wet and contorting this way and that. Click click click. Plane lands, you press ‘Send’, wistful lover receives pictures of you, a mile high. The message: I miss you already.
    It’s damn touching, really.
    Flirtatious, erotic, and kinky, the possibilities are truly endless, and nicely depraved. And lo, love and sex endure yet another technological revolution, right?
    But what about phone sex? That ancient, revered art? Plain ol’ talking dirty, those nasty breathy late-night gasping whispers to make AT&T blush, oh my god I am so hard yes and I’m so wet I’m pumping you and you’re licking me and sucking harder and I can feel you tightening and ooh ahh yesYesYES!! And so forth. You know how it goes.
    Phone sex is, for some, the ultimate fantasy. It is a true art form, grand epic erotic tragedy at six cents a minute.
    It is you, your one free hand, and that special someone’s increasingly breathy, loaded, dreamsticky voice. It is pure projection, the sexual self made verbal, unencumbered, wide open, idealized and euphoric and the whole reason they invented cheap long distance after 10pm.
    Now add instant pictures, grainy video to that conversation. Now add funky immediate visual stim. You say you’re hard as diamonds, baby? Show me. You say you’ve got that dildo moving like a piston, hotstuff? Take a pic and send it to me, quick. Oh my god yes yes YES.
    But then again, no. Because you could argue that the damn cellcam ruins the fantasy. You could remind yourself that the mind is the sexiest organ and the imagination is the mind’s eager love-bitch and instant cellphone video pics only serve to chain the imagination, castrate it, render it mute, moot.
    Hell, you could even say what email did to the art of the sensual hand-written letter, cellcams will do to the art of dirty talk. That is, remove all the texture, the joy, strip away all the mentally orgasmic juice. You think?
    After all, isn’t the whole point of phone sex to purely imagine your lover, to paint liquid verbal scenarios, to use breath and timing and nasty adjectives and gasping elocutions to get your partner off?
    In other words, if a picture is worth a thousand words, does the instant cellcam signal the death of the hot conversation? After all, why talk about it and go through all those verbal gymnastics when you can just send a picture? It’s a visual culture, after all.
    Or maybe the new technology will merely serve as an enhancement. Like a good Hitachi Magic Wand, a nice anal bloop stick, a hard twist of the nipple at just the right moment — maybe instant digital pics merely a lascivious boost, the kicker, the visual icing on the audio cake.
    The answer is, of course, it all depends on how you plan to use the damnable things. It’s all in whether or not you let technology dictate the range and texture and thrust of your fantasies, or other way around.
    Because it is the now age of instant fantasy, of twenty-second MTV relationship, short-attention-span love. It’s all about how much RAM you’ve got in your little gadget, honey, how many shots can your little gizmo hold before it overloads, dries up, goes limp. What, you’ve only got the Ericsson 5130? Sorry baby, I only swap hot snapshots with guys who have the 7500.
    It is the age, finally, of tragically decreasing verbal nimbleness, a whole generation raised on grammatically mutilated email and cheap, grainy insta-pics, cellcams maybe somehow convincing us that blurry snapshots might somehow be more valuable than actual cerebral penetration, than spoken words, than describing, in intense romantic syntactically gorgeous detail, just how intensely you intend to fuck your moaning lover in the ass.
    Can some quickie cellcam picture, some grainy five-second video ever truly capture that? No way. And for that, we can be eternally grateful. 

©2003 Nerve.com, Inc. and Mark Morford

Read other features from the 6th Anniversary special issue!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mark Morford writes for sfgate.com, the website for the San Francisco Chronicle. He was recently named Best Online Columnist for 2003 by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. He is also a yoga teacher and fiction writer and an outstanding parallel parker and fervent wine devotee and former L.A. rock-god wannabe and paradoxical contrarian and tattooed love-monkey and ardent dog lover and sincere Astroglide advocate.