August 01, 2020
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American Graffiti

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American Graffiti
WITH a persuasive shove from Hugh Hefner, the Americans started the sexual revolution way back in 1953. Erotica, nudity, pornography, live shows—everything libidinous has, in the last 45 years, been confected by them into acceptable mass culture. Every actress working in Hollywood at the moment has done an explicit sex scene in a film at some point; many of them have posed in the nude for leading men's magazines like Playboy and Penthouse. Still further on the evolutionary ladder, magazines like Hustler and Genesis serve up the genitalia of their pretty models with such graphic relish that moments of gynaecological insight are ever at hand. The hardcore porn film industry is worth tens of millions of dollars; its stars, genuine celebrities.

Yet, absurdly, the United States has been going into a hysterical moral tailspin for the last eight months because, basically, two adults engaged in consensual, if adulterous, sex. The entire situation was laden with volatile chemistry: a powerful, attractive man; a star-struck, hyper-hormonal young girl; and, apparently, similar sexual triggers. So things happened, as will in such circumstances anywhere. Okay some of the things may have been outlandish by some conservative standards—and expensive: good cigars cost—but then many millenia of obsessive sexuality have taught us that sexual triggers can assume bizarre dimensions. One woman's ecstasy is another's boredom. And the rule here, I think, should be that if it's between two consenting adults then it's no one else's business. (Yasser Arafat, I suppose, could complain for being made to wait.) As for the perjury, it came after the explosion of prurience and moral outrage, and was clearly a result of it. But of course, with the illogical momentum of so many things in the world—the nuke race for one—the circus swings on, having already consumed more than $50 million.

But if the American sense of morality is skewed, the Indian is no less bizarre. There they can smile on rampant sexuality among the people and the media but arraign politicians for any sexual lapse; here we expect the people and the media to be ascetic and celibate, but are not at all concerned with the private and sexual excesses of our leaders. Most often their adulterous and bigamous lives are common knowledge, but no one makes an issue of it.

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