In the movie, Robert Redford offered a million dollars to sleep with Demi Moore.
In real life, it’s an eighteen-year-old German lady named Julia setting her fee, and she wants him to get 111,111,111 hits on his website.
What do you get if you visit? Well, at least on the surface, you get to see a bunch of pictures of a . . . healthy young woman.
No discrimination here, though. Should you be hormonally or orientationally challenged at that sight, you can see pictures of the guy, too.
The Rules Have Changed
It used to be that you had to go slay a dragon or something like that to win a fair lady’s hand. Now you have to get a zillion hits to win her bod.
Before we deride this twenty-first century version of dragon slaying, just what is the average young man supposed to do to impress a woman nowadays?
If you could even find a fire-breather, the environmentalists would give you more of a fight than the dragon.
Sports are owned by genetic mutants. War is now owned by geeks. Having money when you’re around eighteen is a genetic accident. Making real money when you’re eighteen is even less likely than having that genetic accident.
So what’s a poor fellow to do?
I think that’s why we see this explosion in activities like extreme sports and gaming and even computer hotrodding. Young men need to be able to do something noteworthy, and they need to do it now, not after they get their MBA.
Notice the stakes have changed, too. We’re not talking about owning, but renting.
I mean ownership in the sense of an exclusive permanent commitment. Neither party seems the least bit interested in that, and that’s what really warps this.
The mythical lady looking for a dead dragon really was asking for a permanent relationship, and finding out indirectly how much that was worth to the young man.
Take away the notion of exclusive permanent commitment, and this turns into a commercial transaction. The closer you look at this, the more it looks like just that.
The lovely lady in the castle said, “Kill the dragon to justify my love,” not “Show my picture to every man in the kingdom.”
Sorry, but “if you want me, you have to get millions of men to look at me” is not exactly an expression of commitment. It’s much more like “Be my pimp.”
A case of publicity duplicity? I think so, but I don’t think it’s a solo act. Remember, this guy put his pictures up, too. Unlike contacting the lady, which might take some doing (yet another game being played), anybody interested in him can do so instantly. Even if 99% go to look at her, and just 1% at him; even a tiny fraction of 1% of a few million should keep his date calendar full for a while.
So maybe he’s just playing a subtler version of her game.
The forms are the same as in the days of yore, but the substance is completely different.
The New New World
It’s hard to understand nowadays how much of a shock the New World was to people after Columbus. It would be like all of a sudden finding two or three new continents today.
You’d say, “But that’s impossible!” Well, that’s what the Europeans had thought before Columbus, too. Finding out there was several continents’ worth of virgin territory (outside of some Native Americans who didn’t count in their eyes) changed the world. There was a new place where one could start, or start over.
We’re not going to find any new physical continents, but we have found another New World: cyberspace. Hundreds of years from now, historians are going to find its creation just as significant if not even more so than finding the Americas.
Like the New World, many have found, and many more in the course of time will find a life or new life there. Like the pioneers and pilgrims to the New World, they will come with the old habits and traditions, and try to make them fit into a new world with new ways and new possibilities.
So it’s not surprising to see young men (and women) interested, even obsessed, with cyberspace. It’s the New New World, with chances and opportunities they can’t find in the old one.
This particular effort is certainly frivolous and silly, but it’s a good example of what people are trying to do in this New World: pouring old wine into new bottles and seeing what works and what doesn’t.