Love & Sex Magazine

Humorous, Adventurous Rapists

By Maggiemcneill @Maggie_McNeill

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage and plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We extort and pilfer, we filch and sack.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle and even highjack.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
 –  X Atencio

Humorous, Adventurous RapistsI often struggle to comprehend the incredible ability of the modern mind to not only reconcile cognitive dissonance, but to apparently function without even being aware of its existence.  Last week we had to endure the false “controversy” over Disney’s announcement that it was making changes in the animatronic figures featured in the 1960s-era Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  The story was covered in a number of places, but the writer from The Mary Sue made it easiest to zero in on the point I wish to make, so here she is:

Starting next year, Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride will no longer include the iconic Auction scene as we know it, in which animatronic “wenches” are sold as potential brides.  The pirates in the scene chant “we want the redhead,” but that redhead will now be reimagined as a pirate herself.  In a statement…Senior VP of Imagineering Kathy Mangum said, “We believe the time is right to turn the page to a new story in this scene, consistent with the humorous, adventurous spirit of the attraction.”  I took regular vacations to Disneyland growing up and absolutely loved the Pirates ride.  Yet I do remember, even as a child, finding something off about this scene.  I never tried to articulate it, and didn’t yet know terms like sex trafficking, but I did know that these women for sale weren’t in keeping with that “humorous, adventurous spirit” that permeates the rest of the ride…

So Vivian Kane, like so many puffed-up prudes, imagines she can project her adult feelings back into her child self, pretending that she “knew” there was something about the slave auction scene that “wasn’t in keeping” with the other activities of pirates.  Which other piratical activities, pray tell, is slave-taking “not in keeping” with, Vivian?  Robbery?  Kidnapping?  Arson?  Extortion?  Torture?  Murder?  I mean, it’s not like the famous song heard throughout the ride doesn’t list them.  In order: “We pillage, plunder, rifle, loot, kidnap, ravage, extort, pilfer, filch, sack, maraud, embezzle, hijack, kindle, char, enflame & ignite.”  Most of these are synonyms for “steal”, the last few connote arson, and though murder is basically cheated of a direct reference, it’s present as the warning “Dead men tell no tales” (intoned earlier in the spookier part of the ride).  But “kidnap and ravage” in the first verse there is pretty clear; it’s a nicer way of saying “abduct and rape”.  Because despite the weird 21st -century idea that pirates are somehow humorous, whimsical characters with ridiculous vocal mannerisms, they are actually (note the tense; they’re not mere historical figures) violent criminals, hijackers and robbers at sea with little compunction against mayhem, torture, murder and yes, rape.  But while nobody has yet managed to sell the idea of a humorous ride centering around terrorists, a kids’ movie series about carjackers or a “Talk Like a Rapist Day”, somehow pirates (bizarrely conceived as forever locked in the late 17th century) have been stripped of basically all of their realities (except maybe the ships) and re-imagined as lovable seafaring clowns led by strangely gender-and-sexual-orientation-ambiguous performance artists with highly idiosyncratic fashion senses.

Now, I’m not arguing against black humor; I’m actually a fan of it, and plays like Arsenic and Old Lace are among my favorites.  I see absolutely no problem with using very nasty subjects such as theft, murder, insanity, war, tyranny and yes, even rape and slavery, in entertainment (even humorous entertainment), provided it’s done competently (“dead hooker” jokes are badly overused & I’ve never seen one act as anything but a cheap laugh).  And the historically-illiterate man-children who have a problem with the existence of female pirates can sit and spin; here are two articles to start the rotation.  My problem is the neo-Victorian pretense that rape (and by extension, sexual slavery) is one topic that is absolutely off-limits, even when depicting fictional characters who joyfully commit every other crime of violence imaginable, including murder and torture!  Another example of the same asininity is provided by “feminists” who moan lugubriously about the lyrics of the Rolling Stones songs “Under My Thumb” and “Brown Sugar”, while failing to notice that the narrator of “Sympathy for the Devil” is boasting about having caused murder, war and genocide (because clearly, sexual exploitation of one single woman is much worse than the Holocaust).  This is the old “fate worse than death” argument writ large across the face of our whole decaying culture; it’s worse than ridiculous, it’s completely deranged.  If murder, piracy and the sack of whole cities are fit subjects for a “humorous, adventurous” amusement-park dark ride, so is “sex trafficking”; and if Disney’s going to start removing all subjects of moral panic from its properties, I’d like to see how it’s going to replace all of those witches.Humorous, Adventurous Rapists


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