After the Ball and After the Fall

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The impossible just happened. The “unelectable” socialist Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the Labour Party in the UK by a thumping majority, making him potentially the next prime minister. This earthquake was entirely unforeseen by the know-alls of political punditry, just as the equally improbable rise of Bernie Sanders in the US, another incorrigible old leftie, has amazed and baffled the American political establishment, not least Democratic front-runner (until now!) Hillary Clinton.

Be realistic: demand the impossible! So ran a famous slogan of the 1968 Paris uprising, and now that the impossible is indeed suddenly seeming quite realistic, it may be time to examine a radical plan recently put forward by a commentator here. Responding to Lensman’s blog on consent last month, Observer (“not minor-attracted, but hate the way you are treated”) introduced a plan he said could bring about positive change “in a few decades”, comparable to that achieved by the gay movement.

And what a plan! This is no mere sketchy outline of a few bullet points but a full-blown, detailed, 15,000-word exposition of what must be done and how to do it, set out in After the Fall: A Beginner’s Guide to Destroying Pedophobia in the 21st Century. This anonymous piece (Observer’s own?) asks how the gay movement managed to advance so far so quickly, and answers by referring to a game plan co-written by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen entitled After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the ’90s. The style of After the Fall, and no doubt After the Ball too, is very professional, as though the writer has a background in advertising or public relations. We hear about geeky concepts such as Availability Cascades, and we can be sure it’s more than just clever-sounding BS because the gay movement has been stunningly successful using the concepts and techniques described.

Just a brief, jargon-free glance at some of these tactics, though, will suffice to make it obvious what was going on and why it worked. Perhaps the most important idea, though it long preceded After the Ball, was to take control of the language: people attracted to their own sex are “gay” (friendly, light-hearted, unthreatening) rather than “homosexual” (medical condition to be cured) or “perverted” (depraved evil-doers). As for who gays are, you go for prestige figures: famous kings, writers, etc., are claimed as gay even when the claim is a bit dodgy: Shakespeare, for instance. The point is not biographical accuracy but the kudos of being associated with the “world’s greatest playwright”.  And what gays do is emphatically not anal sex, with all its unfortunately messy implications. Sex is played down. The “message” is about love and relationships.

Numerous such tactics are adapted in After the Fall for application in a paedophilic context – oops, sorry, make that a kind context: homos are gay; paedos are kind.  But how much, really, is genuinely adaptable? One new idea, available only right now, in the digital age, looks exciting: anonymous donations using bitcoins in order to achieve a serious level of funding for slick, highly professional advertising campaigns, not just via videos on YouTube but billboards and a mainstream media presence. Unrealistic? Not necessarily.

The biggest single defect in the plan, though, is its lack of a historical perspective. The Kirk and Madsen game plan set out in After the Ball was published in 1989 and was spectacularly successful within a couple of decades. But this was merely the endgame. What a study tightly focused on this phase ignores is that the gay struggle began much earlier, before even the travails and trials of Oscar Wilde, towards the end of the previous century. Thomas Cannon published what is said to have been the first defence of homosexuality in English as long ago as 1749, more than a hundred years before the word itself made its way into the medical literature. Jeremy Bentham, advanced the first known argument for homosexual law reform in England around 1785. Paedophilia these days is arguably at the same historical point as homosexuality was in the 18th century, when you could be hanged for buggery.

In those days it would have been suicidal to come out as a “bugger” or a “sodomite”, or even as a “pederast”, a word which could at least be said to evoke the cultured ethos of Socratic Athens. But coming out, and facing similarly extreme perils to those living two centuries ago, is precisely what After the Fall prescribes as a tactic for kind people. Indeed, it is claimed as essential: many other aspects of the overall strategy depend upon it, such as having presentable, media-friendly spokesfolk.

Regular Heretic TOC readers will not need reminding that we had an extensive discussion of this coming out theme very recently, and I do not propose to reprise it, except to say that I broadly agree with those, such as Edmund and Josh, who feel coming out in present circumstances – or at least urging others to do so – veers towards the irresponsible. After the Fall recommends the use of direct action, taking protest militantly onto the streets, just as the gays have done, to demonstrate strength by being “loud and proud”. All this would achieve at present is to demonstrate our weakness, not our strength. The numbers we could draw upon, and the support from others in alliance with us, would be pathetic. We would be crushed and seen to be crushed. Already perceived as a bunch of losers, we would merely prove the point.

This is not to say there should be no coming out. As Dissident pointed out, the recent Czech documentary Daniel’s World, was about a young man’s coming out that did not wreck his life: as with so much else, it’s not necessarily what you do but when, where and how you do it. Another example, albeit from the more propitiously radical 1970s, is that of “Roger”. I’ll stick with the first name as he may well have gone back in the closet by now, in these more difficult times. He was not shy about being a boy lover in those days, and he came across as a rounded, grounded figure who did good work for a number of radical causes. So when he spoke up for children’s rights as well, he had real credibility.

After the Fall, however, is a fundamentally flawed plan. But that does not mean it is entirely without merit. One of its strongest aspects is identifying issues slightly at a tangent to hard-to-sell paedophilia, but which aim to address people’s feelings rather than their opinions. All successful advocates know that if you can tap into an emotional response, opinions will follow: the heart follows the head, not the other way around. Rational arguments fall on deaf ears unless there is some deeper connection to what we feel. The plan identifies our cultural heritage of sexual shame and guilt, expressed through obsessive body covering, as all-important. In the age of internet porn there is a tendency to think we are all (well, the guys among us at least) totally cool about seeing genitals and sexual action. But the collective feeling that porn is not OK finds revealingly vehement expression in the view that such things are absolutely not to be seen by kids.

After the Fall sees the encouragement of naturism as a great way to counteract such feelings: “Normalization of the genitalia (aka naturism) and sex-positivity are inextricably linked. We think penises and vaginas are weird because we don’t see them enough in normal settings, on normal people…. Once we begin to see them as normal parts of the body, we will naturally ask why we feel children cannot give others permission to touch there and nowhere else.”

As the plan astutely perceives, this approach is capable of promoting nudity in safely non-sexual ways: naturism can be about enjoying the sunshine and a sense of bodily freedom. It is about doing all sorts of ordinary things with no clothes on, and not just – or perhaps not at all – about sex. And naturism is very much for kids as well as grown-ups. Continental Europe already has a great naturist tradition that goes unacknowledged in After the Fall, which is very oriented towards addressing American cultural hang-ups. But the message needs vigorous reinforcement and development globally, including in Europe. Note that all of us except those who have unwisely come out, are well placed both to enjoy naturism ourselves and safely propagandise for it.

The other really good part of After the Fall is about the language we should use, especially the kind word. Let’s go for it, starting right now. I already did, actually, when I was interviewed by mad, man-hating lesbian feminist extremist Julie Bindel earlier this year, an improbable encounter I mentioned in passing in a comment here a couple of months back. She had asked if she could interview me for the Sunday Times. I emailed back saying she was the last person on earth I would want to be interviewed by. But like the scary heavy dyke she is, she wasn’t too troubled by my lack of consent: she just kept on harassing me until I gave in!

I tell a lie. Although there is no shifting her crazy anti-male prejudice, she did at least quote me fairly and accurately, as well as being surprisingly good company over dinner. Her piece was not, alas, accepted by the Sunday Times, but it has now turned up in the September issue of the right-wing cultural and political periodical Standpoint.  Anyway, here is what she quoted from me:

“I would have quite liked [to be labelled as] ‘kindly’ because ‘kindly’ . . . relates to the Dutch and German kinder — children. So yes, being intimate, but also being nice with it. I would say that if someone had sexual relations which were in the realm of what I called earlier the ‘kindly’ sort then that would not be abusive. Although these days one has to be careful because anything you do, no matter how kindly it is, it’s always subject to trauma later on — secondary trauma as a result of society’s hysteria over the whole thing.”

So, I like kindly. But kind is better, I must admit: a very straightforward monosyllable, easily seen as analogous with gay.

Finally, while we’re on the subject of language, the author of After the Fall would surely chide me for calling this blog Heretic TOC. Whereas he wisely emphasises going with the grain, where possible, identifying with majority sentiments rather than setting oneself against them, being labelled a heretic could hardly be more counterproductive. Sure, it draws fellow heretics here, so we can talk among ourselves, but arguably this language defines us as outcasts and bad guys. It’s a bit off message.

But then again, so are Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders. They have been saying the same “wrong things” for decades, sticking to their principles and fighting for what they believe rather than slavishly following the opinion polls and focus groups. And now, suddenly and unexpectedly, they find they are being respected for it. They are seen as authentic.

I wouldn’t mind a bit of that sort of reputation, even if it is only for me to be judged authentically odd, as seems likely! So, it may not be in the After the Fall plan, but I don’t think I’ll be changing the name of Heretic TOC anytime soon!

 

MY FRIEND WAS NO MURDERER: OFFICIAL

I had a very welcome email yesterday from James Gillespie of the Sunday Times, letting me know he intends to use some information I gave him after he approached me last month in connection with the so-called Westminster VIP paedophilia scandal.

Gillespie has long been sceptical of the crazy murder claims made by “Nick” and “Darren” via Exaggero (sorry, Exaro) News, and nonsense about Edward Heath and others mentioned in Heretic TOC last time. I have seen several of his excellent reports.

And now he has sent me a PDF of his latest, which informs us that the police have at last admitted they no longer believe “Darren’s” claim that my friend the late Peter Righton was a murderer. Their investigation has accordingly been dropped [“Police drop ‘VIP sex murder ring’ inquiry”, James Gillespie, Sunday Times, 13 September 2015]. Gillespie’s report is behind a paywall online, but his story was picked up by the Daily Mail. The first big breakthrough against these dodgy Exaggero witnesses was also in the Mail recently. This was a front-page lead saying the VIP scandal shows signs of “unravelling”, with the police finally getting cold feet over the lack of evidence to back up the claims of star fantasist “Nick”.

Sanity at last!

 

MORE ABOUT ROBIN

Another email, received a couple of days ago from Robin Sharpe’s daughter Katherine.

“I’m glad you are posting something on your blog,” she wrote, “That would make him happy. Thank you for doing that.”

In a tribute to her father, whose death was recently reported here (under “Sad news from Canada”), she says that as a child he instilled in her a love of camping, nature, architecture and art. As an adult, though, she had unsurprisingly found it difficult to deal with the high profile controversy he generated, or the “fallout”, as she calls it.

“Maintaining a relationship with my dad has been an exercise in compartmentalisation I would say. You box up and set aside what you cannot agree on, and try to work out the rest.”

Sounds very sensible; and I’d say she seems to have done a pretty good job.

‘Harmless’ paedos venture out of the shadows

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It’s time for Heretic TOC to turn film critic, as several new films of MAP interest have been brought to my attention recently. Well, I say critic, but it’s more a modest noticeboard function as most of the movies in question have not yet been released, or are not readily available with English sub-titles.

Among the latter is Daniels World (Danieluv svet), winner of the Audience Award at Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival in the Czech Republic. There’s a trailer, but most of us will probably get a much clearer impression from a couple of other sites, including one with distribution details and a synopsis:

Daniel is a young man. Daniel is a student and a writer. Daniel is also a pedophile. He is in love and makes no secret of his sexual orientation; not even in front of the parents of his beloved boy. Daniel has never hurt any child. Neither have Jirka Fx100d, Tomáš Efix, Petr Kasz, MR_Xguard, Host, Simgiran, Silesia, Elrond or others from the community of Czech pedophiles. What is the way of the most intimate of feelings in Daniel’s and his friends’ heart? The film introduces the rises and falls of people living with paedophilia. It portrays Daniel and the community of Czech pedophiles. It narrates a story of a forbidden love and constant struggle to come to terms with oneself and the society.

The marketing information at the above site actually tells us English subtitles are supposed to be available but it doesn’t seem to have happened just yet: the title does not appear alphabetically in the distributor’s English-language catalogue.

Director Veronika Lišková has described the origins of the project and how it was handled. What I found particularly interesting and promising is Daniel’s total openness – a very brave choice for a young man in today’s world, even allowing for differences between Czech culture and that of the Anglophone world. What makes it slightly less difficult for him, or perhaps a lot less, is that he is committed to being what Lišková calls a “harmless paedophile” i.e. he is sexually non-active even though he is in love with a boy.

At least, this is what I picked up from the inevitably garbled (but much better than nothing) Google Translate version of a review that appeared on a Czech site. The shrewd-seeming review of this 75-minute documentary said Daniel’s World is “definitely a very important contribution to the public debate on this topic” albeit with serious limitations, notably as a result of Daniel being portrayed almost entirely in terms of his sexuality.

My chief anxiety, though, and doubtless that of other heretics here, would be somewhat different. The portrayal of paedophiles who present themselves as “harmless” all too easily becomes just propaganda for “virtuous” paedophilia – repressed, neutered, making no demands on society to end the current lunacy. The reviewer tells us, indeed, that Daniel’s doctor makes an appearance, giving his diagnosis on screen. That doesn’t sound good. But his “patient”, who is a literature student, has come out to all and sundry by writing his autobiography as well as appearing in this film. This encouragingly suggests a touch of Paedo Pride rather than the hand-wringing angst of those sad, shipwrecked souls who find themselves washed up on the desolate shores of Virtueland. He doesn’t seem like a beaten man to me, or a reflexive conformist. He is surely no mere CBT fodder. Let’s hope not anyway.

Ice-Cream Hands is a 10-minute short film made in 2002 but elusive to me for a long time. It didn’t come to my attention at all until about 2010. My name had been in the programme notes of the Brazilian University Film Festival, where the film had been screened in 2003. The notes said:

Experimental. Mr. Sprinkles. Single, 35 years. He loves ice cream … as well as little Jude, aged eight. An experimental narrative that relies heavily on the biographical work of Tom O’Carroll, a confessed “lover of children” in the UK.

As may be imagined, I was intrigued to know what this was all about, so I emailed Gavin Youngs, who had been listed as director. He replied, promising to post me a copy of the film, but somehow it never happened. I was prompted to try again this year when something jogged my memory. This time he came good, telling me I could see the film with the password 2002 on Vimeo. Ice-Cream Hands was the first film Youngs made at film school and he claims not to have watched it since. He now runs The Apiary, an independent company that produces films for clients in the creative industries. Commissions have included work for the Royal Australian Ballet and the National Gallery of Victoria.

One can understand that he might be keen to distance himself from such a controversial subject now that he has such prestigious connections in the art establishment of his native country, but he need not be modest about this first work, which was shown in 2004 at St Kilda Film Festival, Australia’s largest and oldest short film event, which is an Academy Award qualifying event; and much later it was featured in the Berlinale Talent Campus section of the 2011 Berlin Film Festival.

At St Kilda’s it was extremely well received. Bill Mousoulis, himself a well regarded Australian film director, wrote:

The absolute highlight of the festival for me was Ice-Cream Hands, a film about paedophilia. And it is an important film in that regard, asking brave questions such as “Is paedophilia per se, without any abuse, a bad thing?”, but it’s mainly a stunning film due to its form, style and sense of aesthetics. It gets far away from the dreaded naturalism that seems to dominate Australian cinema, and goes for an eclectic, excited combination of various stylised elements.

I’d say that’s one hell of a commendation, not least as he says he personally saw 70 of the 150 short films on show. Another reviewer, Rose Capp, also expressed enthusiasm:

Gavin Youngs’ Ice-Cream Hands… interrogates the idea of childhood innocence, tackling the topic of pedophilia in a courageous and original fashion. Minimal dialogue and an intentionally whimsical visual style mixing naive animation with stylised live action offer an appropriately disturbing take on the subject.

I think she’s a bit off target, especially with the near compulsory “disturbing” cliché, except that for me it definitely was disturbing in terms of sheer suspense. It may have been only 10 minutes long but I found it as gut-wrenchingly intense as any Hitchcock thriller.

Not that Ice-Cream Hands really had anything to do with my supposed “biographical work”, which turns out to have been a mistake in the Brazilian programme notes. Instead, the narrative is interspersed with short quotes flashed up briefly from my 1980 book Paedophilia: The Radical Case. Youngs assures me he was granted copyright permission for this by my publisher, Peter Owen Ltd, but no one from the firm ever bothered to tell me about it! I very much agree with the recent (1 November) comment by “Kit” on a Boy Chat thread that these quotes are a bit heavy-handed and overdone (they also wrongly make me look a bit of a VP but I’m not complaining), but otherwise my verdict is a big thumbs up for the film’s cinematic qualities and overall impression. Do let Heretic TOC know what you think.

As for Butterfly Kisses, it is a project I heard about around a year ago on the grapevine, possibly when Blue Shadows Films were undertaking research by contacting MAPs through Boy Chat and Girl Chat. Their website has now put up a brief notice for what I think may be intended as a full-length feature film due to come out next year:

This story is set right now in today’s world that is perhaps more broken, lonely and self destructive than ever. It focuses on the lives of three best friends. The protagonist, JAMIE (17) has realised he is not like the others but that he’s attracted to girls much younger than himself. He doesn’t want to feel this way. He hasn’t done anything wrong. He doesn’t want to do anything wrong but is now facing a life of loneliness and abstinence or exile.

Like Daniel’s World, and indeed Ice-Cream Hands, this description suggests a focus on the familiar “virtuous” angle – it looks like being sympathetic rather than radical. But, hey, a new Lolita would be pushing it a bit in these times. Actually, come to think of it, Lolita the novel was widely held in the literary establishment to be a moralistic work that in effect denounced, rather than celebrated, paedophilia, even though author Vladimir Nabokov was, as we now know, a GL himself.

One interesting aspect of Blue Shadows is the sheer youthfulness of the team, although they do have a token boring-looking old suit among them on the financial side, which gives some reassurance they aren’t just a bunch of kids having fun. While it is true they are only just beginning to grow out of their shorts and into their full-lengths, their budgets for the latter now run to a pretty grown-up £7 million per title.

Then there is Passion Despair, which sounds very exciting – so much so, unfortunately, that I’m not sure it would be wise to download it in the UK, and I have not done so. Jed Jones, presumably the same Jed who now comments here, put up a webpage about it in 2012 which begins thus:

The film that’s banned everywhere! The truth they don’t want you to know: a whole studio of former child web models who say, loud and clear, with the full support of their families, WE ARE NOT VICTIMS.

Now, when Jed says “banned” he probably means the film is unable to be shown for public exhibition in cinemas and elsewhere because a certificate has been refused. That would be the usual interpretation. But as I understand it the film could still be legal, depending on the jurisdiction in question. It seems to have passed muster in Poland as it was premiered publicly there at the Gdansk Dokfilm Festival in 2011. Perhaps Jed will tell us more on this specific matter although I should add that his webpage gives all manner of interesting information about Passion Despair, which need not be repeated here.

I’ll just stick with a few key details. Passion Despair is a documentary by Swiss director Steff Gruber. It features his fellow countryman Daniel Leuenberger (yes, another Daniel and another Daniel’s world: very confusing). This Daniel is a photographer working in Moldova who specialises in photographing girls aged between 9 and 14. Gruber met him there while working on another project.

Now for another documentary I first heard about only yesterday on Sexnet although it came out in 2012. It is from Austria and is called Outing. It has enjoyed a few outings itself, at festivals in Switzerland and Iceland in its first year, and very recently, this September, in Norway at Skeive Filmer: Oslo Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

Whereas Daniel in Daniel’s World manages to be totally open with everyone about his paedophilic feelings, the focus in Outing is on Sven, whose situation is surely much more usual. He has spent his entire adult life with secrets that isolate him psychologically if not socially: there are people in his life, but he cannot share his inner life with them. Sven, we are told, is creative, reflective and was willing to talk honestly. That is why, after approaching a group set up for paedophiles in Germany who were seeking support in living within the law, Sven emerged as the “star” attraction for the filmmakers, who appear to have done a thorough job: they filmed, at intervals, over a four-year period, enabling them to see how Sven’s life developed.

One learns all this from an interview with filmmakers Sebastian Meise and Thomas Reider at the website of the Austrian Film Commission. There is also a trailer on YouTube which, I have to say, goes out of its way to be not only bleak but also boring: it’s as though the makers feel obliged to depress and alienate their audience in order to show they are serious.

I doubt that this pair took the same dreary approach with a (sort of) incest-based drama they had done earlier, though, called Still Life (Stilleben). The synopsis on IMDB has this:

A father pays prostitutes to play the role of his own daughter. The shocking revelation concerning his long-secret obsession tears up the family’s delicate fabric. The son blames himself, and he resolves to find out whether his father ever acted on his fantasies, while his sister wants to sort out her memories on her own. Despite her uncertainties, their mother’s reaction leaves no question as to what she thinks. The father ultimately has to find a way of coping with his shame and feelings of guilt.

Still Life may or may not be straightforwardly a “sexploitation” movie but the final title on Heretic TOC’s list for today is a drama we will probably find neither boring nor exploitative though it may be controversial. This is Force Majeure, and the great joy is that unlike all the obscure stuff above, most of us should soon be able to see this in the cinemas or buy it for home viewing.

Perhaps that is because it is about manhood, not paedophilia, although the gender issues engaged should be of interest to more than one sort of heretic here. I heard about Force Majeure in the New York Review of Books last month.

It’s all about the emotional and moral fallout from an incident on a Swedish family’s holiday in a French ski resort. When an avalanche threatens to engulf their hotel, the father panics and runs for it, leaving his family to their fate. Nobody in the end dies, but how can the family live with dad after that? Isn’t the senior male supposed to be the brave protector, after all? Or is that out of date in these gender bending times?

There is no way this can fail to be a compelling theme, although I do somewhat suspect it is all part of a feminist plot (though the director is a man) to undermine not just macho culture but masculinity itself, and all trace of why men need to take pride in what their manhood can contribute to a family other than sperm. I am reminded of the wonderful book The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell, which challenged the belief that patriarchal societies make rules to benefit men at the expense of women. He argued that men are in reality the expendable sex, often called upon to sacrifice themselves for women and children in a whole range of ways, from defending home and hearth in warfare to being last into the lifeboats when the ship is going down.

And speaking of ships going down, I am reminded of a salty saga of yesteryear that presented a masculinity-affirming take on dereliction of duty and its aftermath. Joseph Conrad’s novel Lord Jim is more than a century old now. It is the story of a mariner who spends a lifetime dogged by guilt over abandoning an endangered ship and its passengers. His years of atonement see his courage permanently on trial and not again found wanting. His story is not, in the end, an exposure of “manliness” as fraudulent, but a stirring affirmation of manhood and its responsibilities.

Anyway, I hope there is something here that will be of interest. This selection is just a ragbag of heretical, or heresy-relevant, films that have come my way. I don’t even bother to follow the mainstream film reviews these days so it is possible I may have missed a lot of important stuff. If so, do let me know, or better still submit a review of one or more films that could be used as a guest blog for Heretic TOC.

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