Kink in the Mainstream Media

Not too long ago, on those rare occasions when mainstream media outlets mentioned kink, it was talked about with a mixture of shock and disgust. Now, at least for some media outlets, it has become just another part of the conversation. Two examples of this phenomenon are radio’s The Stephanie Miller Show and a blog named “The Rude Pundit.”

The Stephanie Miller Show is a morning drive-time talk-radio show originating in Los Angeles, and heard in the Twin Cities 8-11 AM weekdays on KTNF (AM 950). It is an irreverently manic mix of progressive politics and low but sophisticated humor.

Worked into that humor are occasional references to items and situations with which readers of this column might be familiar: Astroglide and insinuations about someone tied to a bed, to name two. For a while, a running gag aired about conservative media personalities Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera’s (fictional) sex dungeon (complete with whip-crack sound effect), where the safeword is “Mizrahi.”

The foregoing is remarkable for two reasons:

(1) This is not niche-media satellite, cable, or Internet-radio programming. This is mainstream media—a syndicated broadcast radio show appearing on more than 60 stations across the United States.

(2) These kink references are simply part of the on-air banter. No special attention is called to them, and no explanations or definitions are given. Miller simply assumes that the show’s audience already knows about such things, and therefore will get the joke.

One of The Stephanie Miller Show’s occasional guests is Lee Papa, who has been blogging for six years as “The Rude Pundit” at <>. Because the blogosphere is not yet subject to anything like traditional broadcasting’s “standards and practices” rules, leather and kink imagery has become common in many bloggers’ postings.

“The Rude Pundit” attracted quite a bit of notice and comment for posting a series of blog entries telling the (fictional) story of a gay leather dungeon in the basement of the George W. Bush White House populated by figures from that former administration. It was gay leather/SM porn imagery used as metaphor and commentary on then-current politics. Again, the assumption was made that the reader knew enough about gay leathersex to get the point. More recently, “The Rude Pundit” compared the Bush and Barack Obama administrations using the concept of scrotal infusions.

I will leave it to the reader to decide if the image of Karl Rove topping his leather slave represents progress for our community—or not.

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