In the media pile-on over the TSA's new scanning procedures, the loudest voice has been the one crying foul over personal exposure through imaging and human contact. We've heard from the security hawks, the first amendment hawks, the radiation hawks, but it's the modesty hawks who seem most confident. There is a voice, however, that remains unheard. It is the voice of those of us who are excited about the idea of a stranger seeing us naked.
I, for one, am exhilarated by the idea of some uniformed stranger seeing my digital holographic silhouette. Who is that person? What do they do for fun in the evening? Do they wonder who I am? It seems weird and exciting. The anonymity of it is interesting. I wonder if this is why glory holes were invented. What a great, low-pressure alternative to the glory hole! Do I sound like a pervert? If you are afraid of being scanned or searched, you are more perverted than me.
Here's why: when you go through a body scanner, you are not naked. You are naked in the sense that you are always naked under your clothes, as the Philosopher said. Does the idea of being naked under your clothes disturb you? Does me reminding you about your constant under-clothes nudity disturb you? Does it make you uncomfortable that I know, right now, under your clothes you are completely, totally naked? If it does, there is something really, deeply wrong with you.
First of all, the captured image is based on radio frequency and is grayscale, so your chances of actually being identified in any way except as one of your gender are probably nil. Second, and most importantly, it doesn't fucking matter. It is an image of your body. It's not your sex tape. It's not your working-your-way-through-acting-school spread in Penthouse. It's not images of your penis you've sent to a woman because she won't sleep you even though you're one of the 32 starting quarterbacks of the NFL. Maybe, and most importantly, it's not you practicing your light saber moves alone in your garage. Exposure of that sort is the real embarrassment of modern mediated culture.
What we're talking about is just a blurry image of your body. Are you that ashamed of your body? Your body is amazing. You are a human being who walks on the earth in a corporeal form. Maybe your soul is inside your body and is protected there like a little seed. Maybe there is no soul, and your amazing body is all you've got. It's hard to say. But the fact that every human being has a body, and therefore no human being should be ashamed of theirs, is something Americans have lost sight of.
Unconvinced by a mystical-humanist argument? Okay, here's another one: nobody gives a shit. Is your last name Kardashian or Obama? No? Then no one cares. The fact that you think anyone gives a shit about your body shows an obsession with self that is unhealthy to begin with. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news. No one wants to see your body.
I understand that no one wants, or gives a second shit, about my naked body. I've come to terms with this. And remember, I'm the one who is thrilled by the idea of a spread eagle, grayscale Total Recallogram of my body being deeply considered by a TSA agent named Jim, or Chad, or Oceanique. But you body-obsessed, buckled-up pilgrims out there make me look like a gosh darn square.
That's right, anti-search, anti-scan citizen, it is you who are the delicious pervert. Can you imagine what the rest of the world thinks of you? I'd bet you wonder every day how Europe handles it. How do they have topless beaches, and fully functioning economies? How is everyone not at home all day continuously masturbating?
You anti-scanners make Americans look like a bunch of sweaty, knuckle-biting flashers hiding inside that old conversion van of civil liberties. We are the nation that invented online porn. We are the nation that posted to YouTube the three seconds of footage in that one film where that one actress' breast was exposed. While we didn't invent Two Girls One Cup, we are the nation that popularized it. And yet with all of our buttoned up, peep show, trench coat desires, we absolutely refuse to acknowledge our own bodies.
Our national Zeitgeist is something akin to Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver. We take breaks between pornographic double-features to philosophize about cleaning the filth off of the streets. Let's all stop being obsessed about touching each other and looking at each other, and try actually touching each other and looking at each other without assuming the other person is obsessed.
Maybe scanners aren't the best way to keep us safe. If that's the case, then I'll happily get my jollies elsewhere -- I can think of a couple of great niche-porn scenarios involving two uniformed air marshals. But let's not opt out of scanning and refuse searching because our Zeitgeist needs therapy. As the baggage handler once said: let's all stop carrying on, and check ourselves.