We're getting a better picture of Benjamin Straight, author of yesterday's controversial Portrait of the Female Law Student as a pathetic, fake baguette-toting Carrie Bradshaw idolizing exercise anorexic full of misplaced righteousness and drowning in a whirlpool of media-condoned denial. (Wait, I am making it sound somewhat good. It is not, but it is kind of interesting.) Here is what is more interesting: Benjamin Straight was once a budding feminist. Not four years ago, he authored book on the Feminine Condition called The Two Finger Diet: How The Media Has Duped Women Into Hating Themselves. Written in 2003, The Two Finger Diet is a very self-serious, undergrad-y take on...uh...the nexus of feminism and capitalism, plastic surgery & eating disorders, basically all our beats. A typical excerpt:
I do believe that advertisers create the reality to be consumed first and then women solidify the image by reproducing it and voting with their purchasing power. It then becomes a lived reality. I believe that, as a culture, we are too far into the matrix of this particular cultural mandate and constructed reality to question the originations of it or to ponder whether it is physically, mentally and socially healthy.
So yeah, the book is kinda scrappy and amateurish, but at least it's earnest. What happened in the intervening years to turn him into such a bitter, hateful man? Well, there's the fact that, you know, we as a culture are too far into the matrix of this particular cultural mandate for the kind of heartfelt empathy and sober social analysis he was going for to make into a career. (I have no stats, but methinks The Two-Finger Diet wasn't a soaring financial success.) So is Ben Straight just a cynical sellout? Was he burned by the selfsame women he so wanted to help? Or is there a simpler explanation, hinted at in this curious section of the book introducing table of contents?
The Marijuana Tax Act
This is a bonus chapter not relating to anything else in the book. This chapter explores how the interests of a few powerful individuals at both the government and public level worked together to pass the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The propaganda campaign launched in the early 1930's that led to the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act permanently changed the way the public viewed the cannabis plant and marijuana smoking by rallying the emotions o the public against such substances.
Yeah, maybe he just quit smoking pot. Bad move!