LAND OF THE WEIRD,
HOME OF THE BENT
Copyright 2002 PBI Media, LLC
[ January 14th 2002 ]
guesses that Americans will never become fully
comfortable with the Internet. This medium is
just too explicit and unbounded. Unlike film,
TV, magazines or books, where one must make a
special effort to encounter weird, offensive or
troubling material, here it is a click away, or
sometimes in an unwanted pop-up box.
it is porn, fascist claptrap, or even strange
hobbies and tastes that veer into fetishism, the
Web makes more explicit our secret yearnings.
To wit, the year-end reports from the major portals
about the most popular searches of 2001 is an
invaluable guide through the funhouse that is
the American id, the stuff we crave when no one
who aren't monitoring the Lycos 50 and Google's
Zeitgeist pages are missing out on boatloads of
offbeat topical story ideas. What the hell is
"Loft Story," you might ask, and why is it among
the fastest growing search queries of last year?
It is a French reality-TV show (a la "Big Brother")
that elicited raucous protests in the streets.
The French, who have little trouble tolerating
rogue nations, bad manners and brie, apparently
draw the line at, of all things, voyeurism. Didn't
they invent the word?
worth noting that despite the best efforts of
big media, people use the Web to explore other
media in a more critical fashion. We're not just
chasing trends online but experimenting with whether
we want to jump on bandwagons. For instance, Web
search success does not translate into offline
success necessarily. The frequent searching for
film titles like "Pearl Harbor," "Moulin Rouge,"
and "Tomb Raider" probably helped many people
decide not to see those films.
top women and men lists are a stunning study in
contrasts. Britney, Pam, Jennifer, and Madonna
dominate a Google roster that seems to have been
cooked up in a frat house. There is nominally
good news on the magazine front, however. The
Lycos list somehow manages to fit Martha Stewart
and Oprah into its top women (nine and 11, respectively).
Which begs the question: is it scarier that American
men fall for the trashy sexuality of Britney and
Pam or that they find Martha and Oprah kinda hot?
the men's list is topped by a long-dead kook (Nostradamus),
a maniacal mass murderer (Bin Laden), and a foul-mouthed
misogynist/racist/ homophobe (Eminem). In fact,
unless you count Michael Jordan, who probably
is being searched more by male fans than horny
women, there isn't a hunk to be found in the top
ten. This makes the Eyeball rethink his rock hard
abs program. What's the point in a world where
Michael Jackson, whose true physical and sexual
composition remains elusive, is the fourth most
searched male on the Web?