Kathy Shaidle makes some interesting observations about so-called progressive cultural change post 60/70s in the frame of discussing the San Francisco’s O’Farrell Theatre: “She was an atheist and I’m a (half-assed) Catholic, so neither one of us is supposed to believe in karma. But I like to think that just before a thieving employee hacked her to pieces, that cuntish human toothache known as Madalyn Murray O’Hair pondered the possibility that she was getting precisely what she deserved.
Or maybe the thought had crossed her mind earlier, back in 1980. That’s when her son William—the plaintiff of record in her successful 1963 case to ban compulsory prayer in schools—told her he was a Christian. Later he even became a Baptist minister.
Alas, this sort of thing doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. Liberty Bradford Mitchell’s story comes close enough that I’ll take it.
Her father Artie and uncle Jim were the Mitchell brothers, who ran what one-time night manager Hunter S. Thompson called “the Carnegie Hall of public sex in America”: San Francisco’s O’Farrell Theatre. They didn’t just screen porn films—they made them, the most famous one being Behind the Green Door.
Now, Larry Flynt is a pain in the ass. Al Goldstein was a creep. Bob Guccione? A pretentious poseur. Hugh Hefner is just plain embarrassing.
Yet the Mitchell brothers were so shamelessly odious, they make their fellow 1970s porn kings look like the chaplains on the Dorchester.
(One biography of the Mitchells is entitled The Bottom Feeders.)
In her new one-woman show, The Pornographer’s Daughter, Liberty, now 42, talks about being exposed to pornography at age four, when she wandered into a screening of the dailies and her father let her stick around.
As her name suggests, her parents were let-it-all-hang-out hippies who raised their kids “free range” style. Liberty’s childhood was lousy with all the porn, hookers, pot, and coke that $25 million could buy—that being the Mitchells’ estimated profit on…Green Door.
(They ran their business like typical “socially responsible” Democrats too, refusing to let their strippers unionize and, as is standard industry practice, even charging them “stage fees.”)
The Mitchells’ empire came to a particularly sordid end on February 27, 1991, when Jim shot and killed Artie. (Then in 2009, James Mitchell—Jim’s son and “director of film operations”—beat the mother of his child to death with a baseball bat at his daughter’s first birthday party.)
In print and on video, Liberty comes across as an earnest, polished female of the “spelling bee champ” variety—the oldest girl child from a twisted family eager to make good (and get the hell away from them). According to Salon.com, she’s now a disciple of “prostitution abolitionist” Melissa Farley and is “no fan of pornography.” Exposing children to such materials, she says, is child abuse.
Her activism on these issues seems limited to staging her “multi-media memoir,” however. Liberty hasn’t inherited her direct ancestors’ passion for pranks and “principled” lawsuits. It’s unclear whether she inherited anything more corporeal from her late father’s estate, either.
Wiser observers than I have pointed out that when the underclass adopts the elite’s “progressive” social experiments, the results can be especially tragic. After all, the poor lack the financial resources and social capital that help the rich counterbalance or even reverse the ruination these fads inevitably wreak.
No one in my working-class family ever made $25,000 a year, let alone $25 million. They were more or less law-abiding, unintellectual, and non-ideological, with no use for “art.”
But they took their cues from the larger 1970s culture. One sunny afternoon in my father’s new girlfriend’s backyard, her neighbor passed around Polaroids of his family’s vacation to a nudist colony. The grown-ups attempted to sound sophisticated, twittering about how “normal” and “natural” such an excursion surely was. Mostly I recall the blank, bewildered look on the face of the naked prepubescent daughter in one photo, a girl around my age.
My father matter of factly left his Playboys lying around his red-shag-carpeted, cork-walled “bachelor pad” on the rare occasions he kept to his post-divorce visiting schedule. To do otherwise was to “shelter your children.” That was frowned upon by “experts.”
For precisely the same reason, my stepfather was equally adamant that I not be banished from the living room should a “not recommended for children” R-rated movie come on TV.
Interestingly, only one of those men was a perv.
As I write this, twenty-year-old allegations against Woody Allen are back in the headlines. His films are once again being autopsied for evidence of his supposed lust for Lolitas. As eager as I am to blame the 1970s for everything—and the lyrics to many of that decade’s popular songs are Exhibit A in this case—our culture’s sexualization of children hasn’t followed an undotted chronological line. Gigi was enthusiastically received in 1958, while Pretty Baby caused an uproar in supposedly “liberated” 1978. We roll our eyes at the “prostitot” fashions at the playground, but who else remembers moms boasting, circa 1990, that their little girl was “going out for Halloween as ‘Pretty Woman’”?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that ”[o]ur cultural canon is built on the backs of young girls.” The sexualization of children is more like the weather. Everyone complains about it, but…you know the rest.” (http://takimag.com/article/a_lust_for_lolitas_kathy_shaidle#axzz2srFVWZNY)