...THE RAPE TUNNEL has come under fire from Columbus-based feminist groups not to mention local law enforcement officials. The artist plans to place himself in a room, the only entrance or exit being a 22 ft long plywood tunnel constructed by Whitehurst [the artist] himself. Then he says that for the duration of the gallery's opening he will rape anyone who travels through the tunnel into that room.Why is he doing it? For effect:
Because as an artistic gesture, it's one of the most impactful I can think of... It dawned on me that if the work [we local artists] created had never existed, the world would be no different than if it had. None of it mattered to anyone outside of our small and insignificant circle of peers. I wanted something that would have more impact.
...I want to make it clear that I plan to make the experience as unpleasant as I possibly can to anyone who dares to crawl through the tunnel. I will try to the best of my ability to make them regret their decision.
...I'll try my very best to sexually assault him or her. The tunnel is constructed in such a way that it gets smaller the closer you get to the project room. The bigger you are, the more difficult it is to comfortably crawl out. And trust me, I have a lot of secrets up my sleeve to ensure that I can overpower anyone that comes through the tunnel.
We can have a discussion on whether this guy is a narcissist, a douchebag, a genius, or an idiot.
We can have a whole discussion on what should be the role of art; whether aesthetics exist independent of our consciousness or only because of its interaction with it; what constitutes art. We can discuss whether Warhol was an innovator by giving the artist the godlike power to decide what things are; since I'm an artist therefore this is art, and it can only be discussed as art-- you would no sooner describe War And Peace as "savory with a hint of paprika--" and in this way, The Rape Tunnel must be judged and described only as art and not as a legal or ethical matter;
or, whether Warhol was a hack who learned the wrong lessons from Marcel "is everyone here a moron?" Duchamp, in which case the Rape Tunnel, its artist, and anyone who goes to see it should be rounded up and sent to the spice mines.
So you can have those discussions: here, here, here, or here. I'm, however, going to discuss something else.
II. One Third Of Respondents Took It Personally
I don't remember where I read this statistic, but it seemed intuitively obvious: 9/10 participants find gang rape pleasurable.
The Rape Tunnel is a hoax; the "art" isn't the tunnel but the story about the (nonexistent) tunnel. The impact is in the (plentiful) discussion about it. Bravo. Score one for trolling.
But if the purpose of the art is the reaction, then the reaction is, in one third of the comments, hate:
- Someone should turn this into the Self Defense Tunnel and shoot this asshole in the fucking face
- I suspect (hope) someone will go in there with a lead pipe and crack his head open as he makes his move.
- Someone please, for the sake of art and humanity, burn this down with him in it.
- You have concealed carry there, right? Mr. Whitehurst, meet my friend Mr. Glock. Problem solved.
- I'll be sure to pack my gloc-9 before checking out this exhibit.
- Probably not real, but if it is we should get someone like Mike Tyson who is tough, mean and has an attitude to go down the tunnel. After Mike beats his ass and bites his ears off, he'll BE art.
- I will be there and i'm big and black
- EYEM COMIN WII SEA WHO GOES MID evil You clownie Girl (by "Always Were Black")
References to raping him were not unexpected:
- It would be quite interesting if someone with HIV decided to take a small trip through the tunnel.
- Are there any large, strong, gay men willing to stop by and just pound this guy a new asshole in his little tunnel? Ya know, for the sake of ART? What a douche. Art fag.
- if Dick Whitehurst is looking for impact, why not send a large convicted male rapist with a long history of brutally abusing cellmates in there with him. i can't imagine a more appropriate happy ending...
- I think that someone with AIDS should stroll down that tunnel and give that loser HIV baby! and then when he's done raping you, say... "I have AIDS, and now you do too! Put that in your pipe and smoke it dirtbag!"
- I just hope someone with AIDS goes in with a bloody diseased anus, gets raped and then asks him how he loves his new AIDS
- he said he'd do anything that comes in-- why don't we send in like random attacking animals like cobras, badgers, porcupines
- two words: Chuck Norris
I'm specifically interested in the third or so people who expressed these sentiments. Why so much hostility? First, you don't have to go in. More importantly, why is this level of anger not directed at actual rapists? Years ago I lived near 180 and Broadway in NYC. That's a Rape Tunnel. If you go there there will be a guy waiting to rape you, sometimes they change shifts but there's always someone on duty. And they're hiring. Go there, get raped. EOM.
But no one is taking the A train north to kill that guy. In fact, you've basically accepted his existence, you've ceded that entire neighborhood to him. You don't like him, of course, but you don't hate him, you just put him out of your mind, you put that entire area out of your mind. Meanwhile, this artist, an ordinary man, who is only raping volunteers, who has not actually raped anyone-- that guy needs AIDS.
"But this guy is a douchebag/evil/narcissistic/idiotic--" And the guy on Broadway isn't? He's raping because he doesn't have healthcare?
"But he's trying to pretend rape is art!" So the crime of impersonating art is worse than actual rape?
All arguments about rape fail. You don't hate him because he's a rapist, you hate him because he isn't a rapist, he doesn't seem to know he isn't a rapist, and is going to rape anyway.
III. I Just Made You Hate 9 Gang Rapists
Cyril Connolly said, "Hate is the consequence of fear; we fear something before we hate it." He's wrong.
There are no special insights available about the nature of anger; but the nature of rage is well described. If you're willing to agree that the above sentiments are rage-- the irrational, out of proportion blinding hate that anyone else observing it thinks is pretty nutty-- then there's plenty to learn from it.
First, the rage comes because this guy is weaker than us. When we feel safe, when we're not afraid (of him), we're free to explode in rage. (That's why there's road rage and not elevator rage.)
In every horror movie I have ever watched, no one, neither characters nor audience, hated the killer. They're too afraid to hate. In fact, sometimes they side with the killer-- think of an audience of teen boys laughing at the funny/horrifying way the victim was butchered. (And, in reverse: only when they start to hate, when they feel the rage, do they become powerful enough to kill the killer.)
Fear assumes limitless possibilities: the thing you fear has infinite power, infinite resources, infinite resolve, unknown identity. Hate comes when you know them. Cyril Connolly did not say, "if it bleeds, we can kill it." But he should have.
IV. All rage is the result of a narcissistic injury.
I have no evidence, but I'll wager that none of the quoted commentors own guns, are black, or have ever raped anyone. I'll speculate but not wager they've never been in a tunnel before, either.
All rage comes from a narcissistic injury. So the question, "why are these guys so angry?" should be reframed: "what is it about the artist/the scenario that is a threat to their identity?" They're emphatically not afraid of being raped because they don't have to go to the Tunnel. They are only responding to the artist's words. That's the threat.
The reason you do not fear this artist and the reason you hate him is because you about him. You know how he talks, thinks, that he's an artist, etc. You may make incorrect judgments based on this information (e.g all artists are wimps) but it is that you created a coherent picture of him that is relevant.
The man on 180/Broadway whom you don't know at all is "a rapist," he has a right to that identity and you're not messing with it.
This artist isn't a rapist, he has no right to self-identify. How is he allowed to give himself so much power? You can't do it, you couldn't grasp that kind of power, you couldn't be "a rapist," because you're not that kind of person.
But he wasn't either.
V. How To Rape Everyone At Once
There's a lesson here.
If you're running, say, a newspaper, and want the population to fear someone, you focus on identity and offer no other details not consistent with that identity; you fix the identity as primary. You don't describe him, you declare him.
To make people hate someone, start from fear but then attack the identity. Offer otherwise irrelevant information that puts them not in a negative light-- too obvious-- but in a contrasting light.
To everyone else not intent on destroying our civilization to sell copies, there's this advice:
When you find yourself hating someone (who did not directly hurt you) with blinding rage, know for certain that it is not the person you hate at all, but rather something about them that threatens your identity. Find that thing. This single piece of advice can turn your life around, I guarantee it.