Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cracked Article: 5 Literary Classics That Put X-Rated Movies to Shame

So this is my fifth Cracked article! It was fun and easy for me to write, mostly because I have a background in English. 

The original premise was "X Literature-Defining Works That Are Raunchier Than Porn," with the overall theme being literary classics that also reshaped all of literature, like Canterbury establishing English as a language for writing. The editors wanted to reshape it to "Famous Works That Are Surprisingly Sexual." I had my heart set on the original premise but what can you do? I still think it turned out great, though I'm surprising Waldo was #1, I expected it to be #5.

The worst part was looking for sexual images in Where's Waldo. I found Waldo 11 times, the raunchy stuff less so. Figures he'd come out if you weren't looking for him. 

The editors cut one of the entries, so here it is in full as I wrote it. I thought it would be in the #1 spot, so I'm surprised it was cut, but I imagine they had good reasons for it. I *think* it's because it's more famous as a movie than a book, but that's just my guess.

1. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The Book:
Sophie’s Choice is an award-winning, best-selling novel, though you probably know the film rather than the book, where Meryl Streep blew minds when she was forced to pick between her son and daughter.
Hell, it’s such a famous scene that the very title has become an idiom for a choice between two unbearable options.
Aspiring novelist Stingo meets Polish immigrant Sophie, a survivor of the Holocaust and being interned in a concentration camp, and her lover, Nathan. Upon entering the camp Sophie was forced to choose which of her two children would die by gassing and which would live in the camp. Sophie flees the abusive Nathan and spends a night with Stingo before returning to Nathan and committing suicide. There’s a ton more that happens in the in-between, but we’ll spare you the rape, the golden showers and the sex. Well, no we won’t, we’re definitely covering the sex.

The Smut:
Perhaps it’s fair to say that the book and movie are a little different. Like we said, in the book there was sex; lord was there sex. Styron may as well have written a tragedy for Penthouse.
He refers to vaginas as a "mossy cunt" and "undulant swamp," which shows he thinks women are the Earth Mother. Actually, Styron appears to think sex is just nature in general; Stingo's penis is called a "marble palmtree" and a "slippery trunk" and there's a surprising amount of semen-soaking happening to both of them. Which was probably just the tree’s sap, and well- nope, we’ll stop the nature-based metaphors right the fuck now. After one more.
So erotic we’ve got wood in our pants.

And Stingo (the narrator) is kind of fucking horrible. When a girl refuses to sleep with him he daydreams about raping her and then tells her that she really does just need a good fucking. Because that’s how social interactions work, right?

Also, what the fuck is this?

The novel itself has been banned from schools over its language and strong sexual content. This, in addition to the aforementioned rape as well as domestic violence.

One blogger decided to use the Amazon: Look Inside! feature to check out how often some words appear in the book, specifically “fucking” (29 times), “horny” (4) and “lust” (20). We thought of some others and here’s a compiled list according to our counts:

Fucking (33 times)
Sex (32)
Lust (20)
Cunt (12)
Cock (11)
Penis (4)
Horny (4)
Dick (3)
Vagina (2)
Semen (1)

Hell, William Styron may have even coined the phrase “Cock tease.”
We’ll end with this quote:
“...lying asprawl on an Abercrombie & Fitch hammock, where I fucked her to a frazzle with stiff, soundless, slow, precise shafts of desire.”

And as always, here's a bunch of entries that were rejected throughout the pitching process. I didn't include the quotes/sources, but if anyone is curious I'll post the quotes that provide the sexual background.
 Rejected entries:
A Streetcar Named Desire
The film is well-known and we all know about Stanley's rape of Blanche at the end. Stella won't tolerate it and leaves Stanley over it.

But in the original play she doesn't leave him. In fact, she doesn't believe Blanche at all and instead Blanche is sent to a mental hospital. And Blanche's husband who committed suicide? The movie downplays it to him doing it because Blanche was a bitch to him. In the play he killed himself after his homosexual affair was discovered.

X. Candide
Candide is one of the most popular works of all time. Voltaire’s novel centers on Candide, a young man with infernal optimism; regardless of how bad things get he maintains that “This is the best of a possible worlds.” If you didn’t read it in high school you probably were raised by groundhogs.

It also appears that Voltaire was a pretty casual guy when it came to sex. Nearly every woman and most of the men in Candide engage in sex, and most of the women speak freely of prostitution as needed.

X. Ulysses- Leopold Bloom Masturbates in Public
Ulysses chronicles a life in the day of one Leopold Bloom. Separated into 18 “episodes,” each section is based off of a corresponding place in the Odyssey. Widely considered to be the best example of Modernist literature, James Joyce broke ground with the stream-of-consciousness style the book is written in. Ulysses is often considered one of (and on some lists, the first entry) the best English-language novels of the 1900s.

And it’s all about masturbation. No, seriously. Here’s a sampling of extracts from the text from a variety of characters (most of whom are Leopold Bloom). Bloom even masturbates in public at one point, soaking his shirt in semen and wearing it anyway. Because, Japan? I don’t know.

X. Odyssey- Odysseus is a Sex Slave
The Odyssey is an epic poem, a sequel to The Iliad and follows Odysseus after the end of the Trojan War. Odysseus goes on a long journey to get home, undaunted by both human and supernatural forces that stand in his way.

What This Work Did For Literature:
Ulysses? The Aeneid? Both are considered classic, amazing works and both influenced directly by The Odyssey. The epics of epics, the structure of The Odyssey has been adapted into films and stories countless times. A hero summoned to a great adventure, refuses and something supernatural interferes; the hero begins the adventure, changes, faces trials. Sound familiar? Think of Luke Skywalker.

The Odyssey has such enormous impact on the western world that the very title is now a word meaning epic journey.

The Smut:
And at the start of the epic Odysseus is Calypso’s sex slave. For seven years.

Odysseus wanted to leave but Calypso wouldn’t let him, so every night they laid together with Calypso eager and Odysseus unwilling, then in the morning he'd go by the sea and cry.

X. Epic of Gilgamesh- Prostitute Sleeps With Godling For Seven Days
Gilgamesh is 2/3 god and 1/3 man and all balls. He gets bored and starts sleeping with every newly wed bride on her wedding night (this isn't even the raunchy part). His people implore the gods for help so they create Enkidu to distract him. Once Gilgamesh hears of him he arranges for Enkidu to come to the kingdom.

What This Work Did For Literature:
One of the oldest existing written works that we know of, Gilgamesh influenced Homer. Themes of epic storytelling that we see other works all originate in Gilgamesh. Further, the actual king, Gilgamesh, ruled during the “cradle of civilization,” a time and area where human society first emerged. Gilgamesh is the first work of literature to come from the cradle of civilization.

The Smut
Gilgamesh didn’t think Enkidu would come on his own, so Gilgamesh sent a prostitute to seduce him. She and Enkidu had sex for seven days, at the end of which he pretty much agrees to whatever she wants. Seven days straight.

X. Mahatma Gandhi's Biography
A book about Gandhi is really sexual. This is a sentence I never wished to write.

Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India is a 2011 biography about Gandhi. The book chronicles his time in South Africa and journey toward non-violent civil disobedience. It also says he was in love with a guy, Hermann Kallenbach, and that he cuddled naked with his 17 year old great-niece. Gandhi’s home state of Gujurak, India has since banned the book.

X. The Dictionary
Well, sure the Dictionary would have "sex" in it, but it's the Dictionary. It's explicit as it needs to be, right?
"oral stimulation of the genitals"
That was the definition of oral sex in The Merriam Webster Dictionary. First of all, it used part of the word in the definition, which isn't classy. Secondly, parents did indeed find this offensive and the book was pulled from classrooms in California because of the imagery that goes with it.

And that's just recently. The American Heritage Dictionary was banned in Alaska because of "slang" words. Those words? Bed. Knockers. Anything that had sexual connotations.

Dr. Seuss wrote an illustrated nudist book
Dr. Seuss, the beloved author of many children’s books, Dr. Seuss wrote his own take on the Lady Godiva legend. His version had 7 nudist sisters complete with drawings.

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