originally published November 29, 2012

Hi Mom!

My mother loves getting a shout-out in my articles, so I’m dedicating this one to her. You see, my mother is a regular reader here. This is a particular honor, because she really only uses the Internet for two things: reading my stuff and playing a single online solitaire game that she discovered a couple years ago while vacationing on the west coast. She doesn’t use Facebook, doesn’t Tweet, and she won’t look on IMDb to find out who that guy was in that movie she liked. I showed her how to use Google once, but I’m not sure it stuck.

I worry, however. As she tentatively explores this brand new cyber-world, her naivety might appear as a weakness to some jack-wad who wants to have a laugh at her expense. Were she to open her email inbox one day and discover a link to some horrific site that we seasoned net-dwellers would know better than to open, she might get curious, click, and subsequently explode.

I’d rather my mother not explode. As such, I am offering her a guide to the feral and disease-ridden world of Internet shock sites.

Mom, if you ever get the offer to check out goatse.cx, please don’t. I know, goats can be cute, whether they’re trying to cross a fabled bridge or eating all the paper in camp, thus getting Max Klinger in trouble (my mom and I watched a lot of M*A*S*H together when I was a kid). But this is not a site with pictures of goats. And no amount of pictures of cute goats in top hats are going to wash this site out of your memory.

The motivation for this site and sites like it are to shock people, to look for the tip of the horizon of how filthy the Internet (and by extension, the human brain) can get, then to nudge that horizon just a little further outward.

There may be a lot of folks out there who enjoy stretching their anus to extreme proportions, or who want to look at a hi-res, full-on close-up of a man doing just that. I am all about humankind’s freedom to get as filthy and funky as they want, so long as everyone involved is a consenting adult. But goatse was sent out as a misdirection, a prank on the click-happy. Most people who landed on goatse had no intention of doing so.

You see Mom, some people on the Internet are somewhat inconsiderate. Sometimes they’re even rude. Luckily, goaste.cx was shut down in 2004. After numerous auctions were desecrated by fake bidders, someone finally reopened the page in 2009, offering an anus-free email service. I’d check to see what it looks like now, but I’m at work and my computer workstation is monitored.

Mom, please don’t finish my research for me.

We know who to blame for this one. Marco Antonia Fiorito, Brazilian porn magnate, was charged in Florida for distribution of obscene material. In 2007, he released the film that will define him – and this is a weighty definition for one man’s shoulders – the Internet sensation known as 2 Girls 1 Cup.

Without inviting barnyard animals onto the scene, I’m not sure I can think of anything more stomach-flipping than the contents of this video. How can I describe it in a way that won’t corrupt my poor mother?

Okay, these two girls are really fond of each other – I mean really fond of each other. Unfortunately, they ate a sizeable meal a few hours before their make-out session, and they only have access to a single cup between them. So… wait – I’m not going any further with this. There is simply no way to go any further using a euphemistic interpretation.

The best thing to come from this video are the numerous Youtube clips showing people’s reactions to watching it. Fear Factor’s Joe Rogan flinched and had to look away. Porn star Ron Jeremy walked out of the room. Ace Frehley from KISS shrugged it off as bland compared to what he’s seen on tour. Singer Wyclef Jean watched the entire video without any response, munching on corn on the cob the whole time. Some people are harder to rattle. Mom, you are not like Wyclef.

Tubgirl is not a site about cute babies in bathtubs. There is a bathtub involved, but the rest of the photo involves an adult woman skillfully ejecting what appears to be an orange juice enema at a physiologically impressive angle. One claim is that this type of pornography is really big in Japan. I’m hesitant to believe that, but then Japan is where the whole anime-porn thing started, right? That just might be true.

When life gives you lemons, do not throw a lemon party. I was caught by this gag years ago. Lemonparty-dot-org is the web address – it’s a .org, which is supposed to mean it’s a nonprofit or non-commercial website. Something that can benefit humanity.

Well, if you’re big into elderly all-male gay pornography, I suppose the Lemonparty site will benefit you. I’ve seen this site dropped into chats, into comments, onto unsuspecting Reddit threads, and people will follow the link because nothing about the name of this site is suspicious. But trust me, even years later you won’t be able to un-see this.

Then there’s the Stile Project. I admit, I have completely missed this one, so I can only report on what I’ve read about it – again, I’m at work and if I have to get fired it’ll be for something spectacular like blowing up the building, not looking at weird fetishistic images. This one was started by writer Jonathan Biderman, under the pseudonym Jay Stile. From what I can tell, this appears to be an intentional library of shocking and perverse images, not designed to lure people by prank but actually to store this stuff for people who want to see it on purpose.

The goal here is tastelessness. Depravity, crudeness, and whatever might cause shock, that’s what gets stored at the Stile Project. There was a controversy when PETA tried to launch an investigation over a video that shows a Korean man killing, cooking and eating a kitten, but the Feds didn’t bother. You shut down one kitten-eating webpage, you’ve got to go after all of them.

Mom, the Internet is a cold and vulgar place where all of humanity’s sickest and most twisted urges get put on display. I don’t think you’re cut out to deal with the grotesqueness of humankind – I can’t save my own kids, but maybe I can save you. Stick to your solitaire and lavishing praise upon your son’s mad project.

Gotta go now, for some reason my I.T. department wants to meet with me.

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