Love? Hate? Worship? I say worship: Sasha Grey in Playboy

This link is 100% Not Safe For Work. So don’t go clicking on it, and then screeching to me about how you got your ass fired and can’t afford to feed your Alexandrine parakeet and how it’s all my fault.

I like Sasha Grey. Not necessarily for high-falutin’ pseudo-intellectual reasons either. I think she’s really pretty, and she seems to be the type of person you could have a genuine conversation with, and that is really all I need.

A couple of my male friends are always sending me links to her work. Someone even told me that he kind likes the idea of me watching Sasha Grey movies (now that’s honesty – and no, the context of that wasn’t at all creepy, but it’s true, I find men just like to hang back sometimes, and watch us debate porn, hah). The truth is, the kind of porn that Sasha Grey does is way too extreme, in my opinion, even though I like looking at pictures of her and reading her interviews. To each their own, right?

There are several reasons why I’d like to highlight this particular interview/photo-shoot, however:

PLAYBOY:…why not define your work purely as art?
GREY: Because some of it’s porn. And I don’t think that’s a negative. It’s like junk food. We all need a little McDonald’s once in a while. It’s cheap and easy and available and it might not be the best, but it gets the job done.

A lot of people have this smug response to Grey – “oooh, she thinks what she’s doing is art, girlfriend’s in denial, she has no idea WTF she’s talking about.” I think that what these people really want is for Grey to go on a popular talk show and completely break down, send mascara running down her cheeks, and tell everyone about how she really WAS in denial, how soulless and horrible and disgusting her life truly is, and how she’d rather do something more wholesome and fulfilling from now on – stock the shelves in a rural Mississippi Wal-Mart for minimum wage, maybe. I think what grates on everyone is that Grey appears to actually know exactly what it is that she’s doing, and that just doesn’t make sense. Porn stars aren’t supposed to act self-aware. If they do act self-aware, they’re supposed to be doe-eyed and apologetic. And if they’re not doe-eyed and apologetic, they certainly can’t appear to be smarter than you.

PLAYBOY: Do you consider yourself a feminist?
GREY: Yes and no. I feel like the term “feminist” has become so watered down that it’s almost become meaningless.

This is important. While the term “feminist” is certainly not meaningless to me, or to the most people on my blog-roll (I think), the truth is, it is pretty damn meaningless to a great percentage of the American public. If you spend a large portion of your free time hanging out in the comments sections to big-time feminist blogs, you might not appreciate it when it gets pointed out to you, but I think it’s the truth. Personally, I know plenty of smart women who consciously reject the label – because, guess what? Mainstream feminism hasn’t done them that many favours, just the opposite. My colleague, Renee, comes to mind, for example. Last month, in the NYT, Joanne Lipman pointed out that feminism remains a toxic term for many women. Like Lipman, I don’t believe that this is happening because all of these women are self-loathing dittoheads. Grey is on to something.

(Of course, neither do I believe in being a contrarian for the hell of it, Camille Paglia has that covered. My two, very broad solutions are: 1) The spirit of self-congratulatory, white, upper-to-middle class feminism still needs to evolve dramatically and 2) We need to engage pop culture in a more nuanced manner. Let me know what you think about that.)

There are many more things to address in Grey’s interview, but I’d like to briefly touch on the pictures, inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s take on Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. A meta-meta fantasy. Honestly, I think they’re pretty rad. They’re also fairly creepy and problematic and all that good stuff – but of course, I’m one of those feminists who believes that “rad” and “problematic” can easily exist in the same sentence. And props to Sasha Grey for not shaving it all off – and generally doing her own thing (I’m not a huge fan of pubic hair myself, but girls need to do what they want to do).

And as for you, haters, Andrey Arshavin would like to show you what to do:

Arshavin shhh