Certainly you remember the story on how a group of pious investigators discovered Walmart.com sells “gay books”. In an effort to stop their dastardly deeds, concerned consumer Donna Garner gathered a group of homies to raise a stink, telling The Baptist Press:
I think weâ€™ve done a pretty good job in our country of letting Wal-Mart know weâ€™ve not been pleased at all with their decision to back the homosexual agenda.
Of course you’re not, honey. And, yes, you have done a “good” job.
As we learned with the Wal-Mart v. American Family Association, the mega store’s got a reputation for folding under pressure. Thus, it (unfortunately) comes as no surprise that they’ve already pulled a number of titles from their online store. The twist comes in a particular genre being targeted: a sexually explicit anime known as Yaoi Hentai and the so-called controversy that boils below.
Before we go on, let’s establish some rough definitions: Yaoi Hentai’s the most, um, imaginative a broader genre simply called Yaoi. The great virtual collective brain that is Wikipedia defines Yaoi as:
a publishing genre, which originated in Japan and often encompasses manga, dÅjinshi, anime, and fan art. It focuses on homosexual relationships between male characters and is generally sexually explicit.
The Hentai variety, meanwhile, goes the extra mile. A description of one title reads thus:
In Volume 3 of the ultra popular, kinky, sex-full Yaoi Hentai, you’ll see tentacle monster Trach nailing an unsuspecting bus rider, a poor bishonen with his wiener caught in a fence hole and the perv friend who helps, a yaoi take on the “Aristocrats” joke, hot loving with a Sultan’s slave and more! Explicit yaoi content. For readers 18+ only!”
That’s some freaky shit right there and promises to raise some eyebrows, which it has.
We got that Hentai definition from a The Consumerist piece entitled, “Walmart and Target Sell Anime Porn“. It’s really not as inflammatory as it sounds, just that description and some commentary from the editors. The kids over at ICV2 seem to think otherwise.
Their first grievance involves some nerd semantics (you know, the age-old, manga v. anime war), a detail with which we’re not that concerned, but we’ve included for context:
The Consumerist’s report, which was entitled “Wal-Mart and Target Sell Anime Porn,” was wrong on several levels — the items cited were not anime, but OEL manga titles written and published in the U.S. Unfortunately if this story does make it to the national press, yaoi will undoubtedly be crudely characterized as “homosexual porn,” and no notice will be taken of the fact that the primary audience for these books is not gay men, but rather straight young women.
Yes, more women than men read the books, a topic we covered back in September. And, yes, there’s certainly a possibility a story will fail to draw that distinction, opening a pandora’s box of homophobic stereotypes, but ICV2 seems to think this is somehow The Consumerist’s fault.
In fact, The Consumerist didn’t use the word gay at all in the cited post. The book description are even sexuality-neutral. The site does, however, have book covers that feature faggot love, but they’re not highlighted as such. Further, the post isn’t even tagged “gay” at the bottom. (Tentacles? Totally tagged. Weirdos.)
They do, however, have two follow-up stories in which “gay” gets used. Here’s the text from the first one, which bears the less sensational title, “Walmart: Sorry About That Porn“:
Why did Walmart.com sell gay anime tentacle porn? We asked, and Walmart.com spokeswoman Amy Colella said:
“These titles erroneously appeared on Walmart.com due to an isolated system filtering issue. We’re taking this matter very seriously, and are working to remove these titles immediately from our website. We apologize to our customers for this occurrence.”
Guess they need to add gay, porn, anime, weiner, sex, kinky, yaoi, mature, explicit, and 18+ to that system filter. Tentacles, too. You always gotta watch out for the tentacles.
Seriously, what’s the fascination?
Another post informs readers that despite Walmart’s promise, there’s still more porn to be had. It’s here that the description gets a little more homo-related. They write:
If you’re sad about Walmart pulling your gay anime porn, they still sell gay cowboy porn, and lesbian manga, egyptian porn, j-boy erotica, homosexual school porn, and gay pedophile porn, screencaps inside…
They then have some images from the website, including one for a book called The Tyrant Falls in Love with this summary:
Tetsuhiro Morinaga is secretly in love with his upperclassman, Souichi Tatsumi, who is demanding, tyrannical . . . and hates homosexuals. However, Tatsumi’s assets, his ass and crotch, are a beacon to the homosexual eye! If only Morinaga could find love elsewhere!
The encapsulation of an anthology called Country Boys: Wild Gay Erotica carries this steamy sentence:
Lonesome queers meet for moonlight trysts in the cornfields. Whether yielding to the rugged charms of that hunky ranger during bear season or skipping the farmer’s daughter and bedding his accommodating son instead, the men of Country Boys: Wild Gay Erotica unabashedly explore the sizzling side of life far from the city lights.
Yes, we can see how a conservative reporter could put a spin on these outlines, but it seems to us the blame for potential backlash lies not with The Consumerist for the original story – the one that contained absolutely no reference to homosexuality – but with the copywriters of the book jackets. Even then, they shouldn’t blamed. Nor do we think The Consumerist should be admonished for running the story – it’s certainly newsworthy: a religious, gay-and-god-fearing religious movement forced helped kill a little bit of the First Amendment. Although, it seems ICV2’s more concerned with squashing salacious texts.
The go on to chide The Consumerist:
The folks at the Consumerist Website seemed more interested in catching Wal-Mart… in a hypocritical act rather than in fighting “pornography.”
Oh, please, it’s hardly pornography. Pick up a copy of 100% Nasty Ass Sluts – that‘s pornography. And, yes, it exists. We saw your mom up in there. We think she’s selling herself a little high – she’s more of a 83% slut. But, it doesn’t hurt to shoot high, so to speak.
But, that’s just our opinion. What do you guys think?