'King' Crow

Steve Crow is right out of the Bible. With his ‘Boobs on Bikes’ parade in Auckland he’s styled himself as the wily David out to slay the Goliath of Auckland City Council and anyone else who dares disagree with him. And like King David of old he’s a great manipulator of public opinion.

There are ongoing debates in our society about the public displays of human flesh and sexual expression. The line that we consider permissible regarding nudity is somewhere between the latest swimwear fashions and nothing at all. With sexual expression that line is somewhere between kissing and copulating. In any ordered society there is always a line which the majority wish their government and councils to maintain and enforce.

Crow wants to cross the line. He calls himself the ‘King of Porn’. His product is pornography. To promote and launch his Erotica Lifestyles numerous porn stars, employees of Crow and his ilk, bared their chests down Queen Street.

There is also an ongoing societal debate about pornography. Pornography reduces sex to enhanced bodies and actions, whereas most adults consider sex in terms of love and commitment. This debate also has some gender demarcations. Generally speaking women see a connection between pornography and violence. And generally speaking men don’t.

As with nudity and sexual expression, our society via the Office of Film and Literature Classification draws a line about what is pornographically permissible. It also sets an age classification. That Office has no jurisdiction over Crow’s public street performance.

Yet undoubtedly King Crow’s parade, this year featuring scorpion tanks, is theatre. Political theatre. Crow knows he’s crossing the line of public decency and knows he can’t lose. His goal is to publicize his product. A mass arrest of the offending exhibitors, for example, would have helped his publicity even more.

Of course he argues that it’s not about his product but rather ‘freedom of expression’. In a culture that values pluralism kiwis are loathe to curtail freedom or invoke censorship. Yet he is manipulating the virtue of liberty for his own ends. Should his freedom to promote his product take priority over the freedom of others who are offended by it? What are the limits to diversity? Should his sense of taste be allowed to sour the public palate? Should we even have a discriminating palate?

To argue that topless porn stars should not display their silicon in public is to run the gauntlet of being called a prude, a religious moralist, a feminist, or politically correct. Every critic can easily be boxed and thus dismissed. The Auckland City Council was damned if they acted and damned if they didn’t. He’s crowing all the way to the bank.

The biblical story of David and Goliath is a piece of manipulative royal spin-doctoring. It was designed to tell King David’s followers he really was the big man. King Crow is trying to do the same.