Fascism vs. Artistic Expression | The Expressionist

by Alexander Quaresma | @TheRedFlagg

Part 3 of 4 | IN DEFENSE OF KOTA_MORGUE


The events surrounding myfreecams.com model Sunny Olivia were not the only ones that surfaced centering around ideas central to the debate involving the restriction and control of the way in which a model desired to express herself on that web site in 2015. I present the Kota_Morgue episode.

This is traditional authoritarianism. The totalitarian formula is, ‘I know better than you what you really want.’
— Slavoj Žižek; philosopher & cultural critic, "BigThink" video: P.C. is a More Dangerous Form of Totalitarianism

Unlike Sunny Olivia, myfreecams.com model Kota_Morgue puts on web cam shows that are far more sexually explicit and graphic. If the MPAA were to stamp a motion picture rating upon either model's myfreecams.com channel Olivia might garner a PG or PG-13 rating where as Kota_Morgue's would unquestionably be a XXX. That web cam model Kota_Morgue chooses to function within the parameters of pornography on a pornographic website does not change the fact that she too is a performance artist.

As a performance artist, in spite of the graphic over-the-top, and even at times revolting thematic material Kota may depict- just like anyone else, she too should be afforded all of the protections granted under the umbrella of freedom of expression. The reasons for that are elementary; if a Kota_Morgue's right to freely express herself is not safe than nobody's right is safe.

In 2015 Kota_Morgue came to the attention of the social mediasphere on the night of October 29/30 when she apparently simulated an abstract post modern pseudo-expressionist abortion "show" as part of her Halloween costume, complete with simulated blood, a plastic doll, and an umbilical cord. Though her show and the controversy it generated didn't get as much press coverage when you compare it to Sunny Olivia's Nazi stunt from a few months earlier, Kota's performance certainly whipped up a maelstrom on twitter.

How it went down ...

It seems that before Kota could finish her performance, myfreecams.com users and models alike were already voicing their outrage; some of whom even called for Kota's outright removal from the myfreecams.com website entirely. This tweet was posted during Kota's show Oct. 30, 2015: 

First of all, it's interesting to note that this particular myfreecams and twitter user seems to have heard about what myfreecams.com had done to Sunny Olivia only a few weeks earlier. Precedents can be a scary thing.

If you look at the language used in this tweet in particular, one of many tweets posted by disgruntled users that night, you once again see the echoes of PC fascism that are ringing through the corridors of social media these days. This person was not claiming that Kota defiled anything sacred; which of course she wasn't. Nor did they claim she was breaking any laws; which of course, again, she wasn't. This person called on myfreecams.com to remove Kota from the website because they were "offended."

This tweet is indicative of a paradigm as previously noted with the Sunny Olivia incident. As with the Olivia incident we're seeing something take shape and grow like a parasitic worm in the very bowels of our supposedly free and open society: "I have been offended, off with the offender's head."

That tweet, tweeted by whom I would presume to be a premium member of the myfreecams.com website (I could be wrong about that), was essentially the proverbial spark that set the twitter accounts of the more consternate myfreecams.com community ablaze with the bemoaning of bruised sensitivities, the proverbial renting of garments, and most assuredly much gnashing of teeth.

One person who seemed to be the most vocal critic of Kota_Morgue that night, who re-tweeted the user tweet from above, was, of all people, another myfreecams.com model. Why? Because of course it would be. That's why.

Not only was it another model on the website, but it was a rather successful model relative to the bell curve. So it wasn't that she was feigning offense for attention. This model was genuinely offended. 

To be genuinely offended is fine. But then the same model would go on to start tweeting things such as the following:

"How did Kota think it was okay?" There are two potential answers to that question. The first could be "Because fuck you, that's why." And that would be a perfectly cogent response. However, a second, and more constructive response might be "Because I have the right to freely express myself when, where, and how I so choose so long as no children are involved (which of course there weren't) and no bodily harm comes to anyone.

Kota, or anyone else who would have put on a show similar to this, does not have to be in the position of understanding the "horrendous impact," as the disgruntled model phrases it, it may or may not have because she's not putting on a show for people who've had problems with their pregnancies coming to term for whatever the reason. The show was for herself and anyone else who would be interested, fascinated, or just simply rubber necking through the myfreecams.com website looking for a train wreck. Why should Kota_Morgue, or anyone else, be in the position to care about other people's past traumas when she's simply putting on a performance for her channel?

All that should be of concern to Kota is her rights to freely express herself, regardless if it's part of an attempt to make money, and perhaps even a reputation, via her outlandishly grotesque and stylized performance. What if someone came along and said "My mother sexually molested me as a child. Anyone who produces masturbation content or performs masturbation shows on the Internet should be thrown off!" It's the same principle.

Oddly enough, this same unnamed model has a habit of masquerading like a whiskered animal of some sort. What if a PETA-like organization came along and demanded "the removal of anyone trying to appropriate the natural image of an animal as part of a sick attempt to push a faux characterization of an innocent creature on an unsavory pornographic website." Should such nonsense be indulged at all? Of course it shouldn't. But don't think that such demands might not be heard sooner if not later. Particularly if such groups start getting wind of the fact that people are getting thrown off of certain parts of the Internet over nothing more than claims of having been "offended."

The model then went on to tweet the following:

Clearly that model, who shall remain unnamed, was not very happy with Kota's stunt. It's understandable. She maybe even makes one or two points worth considering; maybe. But there is a deeper pathological condition at play here.

What such people as this person seem to want is a "nerfed" Internet. They're a sensitive sort and that's fine, I can be quite sensitive when it comes to certain matters myself, but quite frankly, as some performance artists who are comedians who also suffer attacks from the PC brigades have noted, this type of person has simply gotten used to life being too easy for them. This is one of Joe Rogan's great arguments. Sure they may have hard times with people in their family getting ill, have their own unique cases of depression, and perhaps have even had their favorite cat or dog die. Those are hard things to have to deal with; no doubt. But that's not the kind of lack of hardship contributing to an easy life such social observers are referring to. Life is too easy for people like this because they don't have to hunt game or plough the fields for meals; they go to the grocery store. They don't have to chop wood to remain warm; they turn up the thermostat. They don't have to bathe in rivers teeming with wildlife that might eat them; they have hot water that comes out of the walls of shelters they didn't build. Life is too easy for them, so they have to look for things to be upset about. That's not to say that there aren't legitimate social causes out there that should cause anger, because there are. But it is to say that they're many people like said unnamed model who are misdirecting their anger fueled ennui at the wrong people over the wrong cause- the Kota_Morgue episode representing merely one example of what's going on out of many. 

The disgruntled model also crosses a line in that she begins to hurl inflammatory put-downs at Kota, claiming she's "fucked in the head." Why exactly is Kota fucked in the head? Is it because she's not conforming to this model's ideal standards of behavior? In the past it was people of a similar bend who'd have been calling for stakes to be erected so that the damned could be set aflame and sent to hell in the purifying fires. "Here is a model who doesn't think like I do, so clearly she's fucked in the head." Again, more evidence of a very sheltered mental constitution.

Well, if she can't erect a stake, perhaps she can summon an asteroid. "I hope you get hit by an asteroid" is actually a very apropos comment, when you consider the source. Once again, it is suggestive of how sheltered an existence it is that the angered model lives. As we all know, if an asteroid were to hit Kota_Morgue on the head not only would Kota suffer a horrific doom, but so would a large chunk of humanity. Asteroids aren't discriminatory when it comes to who'll they'll wipe out. Imagine though, instead of an asteroid, it's the PC brigade that comes to wipe out the existence of Kota_Morgue. Well, if such a brigade were to come to pass, what would make anyone think they'd stop at Kota? To justify their own existence they'd go on a witch hunt and seek out anyone like Kota, and then they'll begin to expand their search, adding new misdeeds to their laundry lists. Before long we'd have a safe, sanitized, harmonious Internet, much like the surface area of the planet immediately after it is struck by an asteroid.

Things then took a turn, because it went here with a re-tweet:

The outraged model decided to take the sadness of another model, appropriate it for herself, and add it to the anger and outrage she was already spewing out the mouth about. And while it is unfortunate that someone had a miscarriage, it's got nothing to do with Kota's performance.

It's sad that this other model who caught wind of Kota's show felt so upset over it that she was crying. It's not what Kota did that makes it sad, it's that someone would be so sensitive to such a silly performance. I don't wish to deconstruct the tweets of someone who was made to suffer through a miscarriage through no fault of their own outside of a sad roll of the dice, but since her tweet was made part of the dialogue by the outraged model it must be addressed. Bad things happen. Bad things will always happen. But the Internet and the rules governing freedom of expression cannot be "nerfed" because someone had a bad experience.

We cannot tell the SyFy network to stop making Sharknado movies because it might hurt the already hurt feelings of someone who has had a family member killed either by a shark or a tornado. Meanwhile the Sharknado movies are so ridiculous they make Kota's performance seem like an episode of "American Horror Story" by comparison. But you can't do it; you can't make someone stop doing something, no matter how dumb it might be, simply because it hurts your feelings. If it's that bothersome don't watch.

In fairness to the model who had been re-tweeted, after posting about how she was in tears because it was less than a year ago that she herself had suffered a miscarriage, she made no statements to have Kota taken off of the website and did not call her any names. As part of her continued response all she did was post a link to the Miscarriage Association charity. I can respect that. It's a shame that other models, who weren't even as psycho-traumatically invested in what Kota_Morgue was doing that night, could not have kept as level a head.

Aftermath

Compared to the Sunny Olivia situation the Kota_Morgue show controversy waned out soon enough. It seems that everyone moved past it and carried on with business as usual within a day or two. 

A few weeks later however, the same unnamed model who had been one of Kota's louder critics the night of her show, would tweet this on Nov. 27, 2015:

It is rather ironic that a cam model known to produce R to X-rated content to sell for money would step up onto a soapbox and preach about how other models choose money over morals. It makes the head spin. Based on such rhetoric I have to believe that this is someone who has never been exposed to the concept that there are people in the world who think and process their environment differently than she does. Either that or she was coked out of her gourd. The proof is in the tweet itself as she has little to no comprehension that someone's definition of what it is to be "moral" might be very different from her own.

That this model is a pornographer, no different from Kota, is not immoral. Not in the least. She clearly would agree with me on that point. However, I do know a lot of narrow-minded people who might think otherwise. I'm not accusing this model herself of having a narrow mind. But I would accuse her of having a narrow comprehension of the reality her sense of self is embedded within.

For her to not fully understand that liberties with what people might otherwise deem to be moral or immoral could be experimented with on a live pornographic webcam site is grievous enough- but then to be so dissonant and harsh with another model who might be seeking to shed the shackles of political correctness and conformity aside, that is something else all together. 

To remain fair the outraged model tweeted this weeks after the Kota situation. It is entirely likely that this tweet, which I've cherry picked from her feed, was said having nothing to do with Kota in mind at all. I'm open to that being the case. Even so, it doesn't matter, because this tweet is simply indicative of the incongruent mindset this person has. It may not have been directed at Kota at the time, but it just as easily could have been said during their twitter exchange a few weeks earlier.

It should also come as no surprise that later this same myfreecams.com model posted the following tweet on Dec. 9, 2015:

Yes, the word "faggot" when used as a pejorative directed at another person is vile. I would agree with her on that point as well as the point that someone's sexuality isn't an insult (again I find myself in a situation where I might be criticizing someone with whom I have far more in common than not in common). But to arbitrarily say that using the word is "not okay" once again goes back to the idea of thought-policing and cultural PC fascism.

We've already seen what this individual has had to say about other things she didn't agree with. But to say that using that word isn't okay is the same as saying any word isn't okay. This goes back to the same argument I make against the "ThinkTank" video produced as a reaction against the web cam model Sunny Olivia which claimed "it is not okay" to satirize Nazis on a web cam show. What will be the next thing that the bourgeoisie claims is not okay all for the sake of protecting everyone's feelings? And what will be after that? Before too long we'll have an entire enterprise going on where people work in little cubicles snipping out and eliminating words from the urban dictionary, erasing them from memory and existence all together.

As well intentioned as the sentiments were behind this tweet, to take up this position is to openly advocate on behalf of those seeking to establish Orwell's Big Brother. To argue that it is anything else would be short-sighted.  This is not fascism coming from the top down, as most of us fear. This is fascism coming from our own ranks. It seems with people such as this that we are setting ourselves up to be our own jailers.

The right to self-censor

Censorship, when imposed from the outside-in, is a vile and contemptible thing; especially censorship for the sake of political correctness. There is a repugnant disingenuous film coating anything that is manipulated by the currents of modern PC fascism. This, however, is not to say that all forms of censorship are as detestable. As you will notice, I've censored out the usernames and handles of the twitter users and web models I've been making references to. It was my personal choice to do so.

At the end of the day these users and cam models are just people voicing their opinions- which they have every right to do, just as I have a right to counter such opinion. Who they are is irrelevant. That is why I self-censored their identities out. Nobody compelled me to do so. Nobody said "You shouldn't use people's social media tweets against them to make a point." There are no laws saying I can't reveal social media identities in blog posts. I consciously chose to self-censor.

Self-censorship can be a great thing. Ideally you'd self-censor yourself from saying hateful things such as "faggot," "gook," "spic," "towel head," "nigger," etc. Ideally you'd be enlightened enough; socially educated enough; morally superior enough to not ever find yourself needing to use any of those terms. But to have someone, or something, come in from the outside and rope off these words and ideas is nothing short of PC fascism, and it is my opinion that fascism of any kind, no matter how small or from what good intentions it stems from is something that should be rooted out like a weed out of a garden lest it be given a chance to overtake not just the garden, but the whole damned yard.

A Serbian Film

In 2010 Srban Spasojevic wrote, produced, and directed a film unpretentiously titled (some would argue very pretentiously) A Serbian Film. It was a horror-thriller dealing with the very very... very dark underbelly of the pornographic film industry in Serbia, a land where as many inhumane monstrosities have been committed by humans against other humans in the past twenty-five years as any other. 

I cannot recommend the film. It's a horrific abomination of a motion picture. Spasojevic's film depicts graphic scenes of violence, snuff, and necrophilia as well as containing a scene where the protagonist is forced to anally rape a drugged child covered by sheets. In fact, he soon learns that it is his own child he has been made to rape; and that isn't even the worst sequence in the film. That distinction belongs to the stomach churning scene which depicts a woman in labor who upon the immediate birth of her newborn watches in psychotic ecstasy as a man rapes her baby.

As horrifying as what was being depicted in the narrative of the film is, it does not negate the fact that Spasojevic was making a poignant (perhaps too poignant) statement about dehumanization. That's not to say that Spasojevic didn't face any backlash either. Not only did he suffer the scorn and outrage of some of his fellow Serbian countrymen, some of whom make some very interesting points about the nature of the film being called A Serbian Film, but Spasojevic was also investigated by the Serbian national government for "crimes against sexual morals related to the protection of minors." As far as I have been able to determine nothing ever came of the investigation. That, however, has not stopped a number of countries in the world from having banned the film. Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia, Germany, Spain, even Australia, have all banned it. I would be of the opinion that these countries are wrong to do so.

Echoing what I've already stated in the previous post, censoring art, even distasteful art, sets a horrible precedent. Aside from the fact that censoring art is an unwarranted violation of the freedom to express one's self, distasteful art, even revolting art, can also teach us a lot about ourselves by the mere act of watching or observing it.

Of course every precaution should be taken that such a film like A Serbian Film is not seen by minors. I would even go so far as to applaud the Netflix decision to remove the film from its lineup upon initially being made available on the ubiquitous streaming service. Just as I am in support of myfreecams.com's right to remove any model it may deem as harmful to its business I am as equally in support of Netflix to do the same with films that could cause harm to its business relationship with its customers. Unlike the idea that I think it is ultimately wrong for myfreecams.com to remove models merely for performing controversial shows I have no such qualms with Netflix. It was the right and moral thing to make it unavailable on their service. Let anyone interested in seeing the film get a hold of it by other means.

As revolting as Spasjovec's film is (being a revolting film was his point) it is still art. I know I'm not alone in my opinion on this because Spasojevic's A Serbian Film, monstrous as it may be, would go on to win a Special Mention for a Best First Feature Award during Montréal's annual Fantasia Film Festival the year of its release. 

A Serbian Film is not for the squeamish, and in spite of all the unsettling thematic material depicted in the film, the one scene that stands out in most people's memories when they watch it is that of a rubber muppet (meant to stand in for a real newborn baby) being sexually assaulted as part of the film's narrative. Similar to A Serbian Film, Kota_Morgue's show, which was nowhere near as shocking as the aforementioned movie, was not meant to be for the squeamish. Also similar to A Serbian Film, the big complaint was that of Kota indiscriminately using a plastic doll to represent an aborted baby as part of her show/costume. 

The aesthetic use of rubber dolls in pop and anti-pop art

In 1966 The Beatles released their ninth studio album Yesterday & Today. The cover art on their album release originally featured the Fab Four dressed in butcher smocks, covered in slabs of meat, and surrounded by mutilated plastic baby parts.

Lo and behold, the cover didn't go over very well. That didn't come as much of a surprise to anyone. The whole thing started out as a gag and a goof with photographer Robert Whitaker (whom, not surprisingly, seems to have been influenced to some degree by French photographer Man Ray). Though the album cover was ultimately changed to something more digestible, a new boundary in pop culture had been crossed. Popular or unpopular, plastic simulated human infants were now fair game as far as props, or even subjects, used in an effort to explore darker aspects of human nature and the existential conditions of the common human experience in pop art..

In the 1990s Canadian artist Noel Bebee illustrated a very unsettling work titled Long Legged Lisa. It depicts a scene of androgynous rubber dolls overlooking the supine positioning of a long-haired - perhaps even representationally dead - figure of a feminine doll. What stands out in the illustration is that one of the androgynous dolls depicted is ominously reaching under her skirt.

Art produced like this draws from its viewer's primal disgust, as with the Whitaker-Beatles album cover, and disturbing chills, as with Bebee's Long Legged Lisa illustration. What they all have in common is the appropriation of the idea of a human infant, either in a plastic rendering or a literal plastic form, being used to convey disturbing, even sinister, components relating to humanity's existential condition: Babies are as helpless as they are innocent.

It is why we shudder to see even just the fabrications of infants in the form of plastic dolls taking part in a simulation that depicts the abuse or exploitation of that doll or muppet. It is the horror of our own impermanence in a universe where so many horrible things can happen that critics are really railing out against. As a general rule we don't like to be reminded of these things. But whom can they lay the blame as far as this seemingly raw existential deal humanity has been saddled with? There's no office to file such a complaint. Artists seek to play with such ideas. Consequently it is they who end up bearing the brunt of the rage.

Here is one of the complaints the enraged model had to say about Kota's show as it was going on:

The disgruntled model was referring to the doll; the plastic doll. Though I understand where the disgust comes from - and I've never said I'm against her feeling disgusted and/or outraged by Kota's show - it remains an irrational disgust footed, in my opinion, in sadness that we live in a world where bad things really can, and do, happen. But art simulating such bad things is not one of those bad things. All it does is make you more aware and more fully conscious of the merciless realities comprising the world. It hurts to be fully conscious of such things, I know. But that doesn't mean the artist is guilty of an injustice. 

Some might argue that The Beatles and Robert Whitaker's photo shoot may have been trying to communicate something about what was going on in South East Asia at the time that they didn't feel comfortable expressing verbally. With her illustration perhaps Bebee was trying to convey something about the objectification of little girls in male-oriented cultures. Who knows the answers to such things? Was Kota trying to make some grand artistic statement with her show? I'd wager a guess: probably not. But she didn't need to be. Kota was simply doing her own thing with her own tools, talents, and know-how. That alone should be admired.

The performance was a simulation; a satirical simulation. Like the rubber baby muppet in A Serbian Film; or as the dismembered dolls on the cover of the Beatles album, and certainly like the subjects depicted in Noel Bebee's illustration- the "baby" in Kota's show wasn't real, it was a piece of plastic. The umbilical cord- it wasn't real either. They are what are commonly referred to as "props."

In reviewing the whole Kota_Morgue episode, I feel like I was watching a remake of James Cameron's Aliens (1986).  So many hissing monsters at every turn, yet all Kota needed to tell everyone was: "It's just a piece of plastic."

One more thing to mull over, in case anyone was under the impression that what Kota_Morgue did was beyond reprehensible and past the limits of good taste by anyone and everyone's standards. As part of the satanically themed fad in movies that the seventies experienced thanks to The Exorcist (1973), Britain's Hammer Horror film studio produced the film To the Devil a Daughter (1976). 

The film starred such dignitaries as Sir Christopher Lee and Hollywood icon Richard Widmark. In one of the film's more surreal sequences, an occult ritual birth of a demonic infant is simulated. The demonic rubber infant is then graphically shown having what can only be described as a "blood orgy" with its surrogate mother, as portrayed by the 14-year-old actress Nastassja Kinski. Did anyone ever tell Sir Christopher Lee he should no longer be allowed to appear in films as a result?

Conclusion

Perhaps Kota was simply a victim of her own talents? She clearly has an acute sense of how to create an aesthetically impressionable performance using her skills with makeup and lighting. That's not the kind of thing just any model looking to make a few extra bucks rubbing her pussy or guilt-tripping her fans with their tales of woe, meant to be accompanied by the playing of violins (if they could figure out how), would otherwise understand. The Kota_Morgues, the Sunny Olivias, and the other models that seek to give their potential audiences something different, however- they would.

It's not because the Kotas and the Olivias are noble artists fighting the good fight against the oppressive machine of PC fascism. No, it's simply their way of staying unique and relevant in an industry that is boiling over with dull derivative clichéd convention. Excuse Kota_Morgue a thousand times over for trying to do something original and un-PC. 

Unlike the PC fascist opinions of people like those that were shooting out those tweets criticizing her, Kota shouldn't have been suspended or banned, she should have been congratulated. She fought the fight with the dragon of conformity- and for all intents and purposes it seems as though she has won.

But before putting this issue to bed, let's play a little game of pretend. What if at some time in Kota_Morgue's past she herself had undergone an abortion or had a miscarriage? What if that had happened? Only Kota_Morgue can confirm or deny that such a thing has happened in her past- and again, I'm only playing a game of pretend by even posing the possibility. But since these things don't exist in a vacuum, let us take the time out to pretend that indeed Kota had endured one of those two events. Perhaps putting on a show like she did was a way of helping her cope with her own loss, because not everyone is made to lament in their sadness. Some of us are made to transfigure personal tragedy into comedy as a means of coping.

Odds are that was not what Kota was doing, but there are millions of girls in the world who might feel the need or desire to do just that. Who is anyone to say that they shouldn't be allowed to express their grief through cathartic satiric performance art? That's something everyone calling for Kota's head over her show should think about before they throw their lot in with the ever-growing trend of PC fascism in a contemporary post-social media culture.