‘F*cking My Stepson for Stimulus Check’: On Ideology + American Pornography
“Nobody ever goes broke overestimating the rage and misogyny of the average American male” — David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster.
The most depressing moment¹ of the COVID-19 economic crash so far occurred on Thursday 09/10/20 at approx. 2130h on the homepage of the USA’s eight-most popular website,² PornHub.com, where, in the upper-right corner of the page, above one of those dreamlike, slightly schizotypal ads for new pornography w/ hyper-quick cuts of heaving, quivering flesh, and below the heading HOT PORN VIDEOS IN THE UNITED STATES, one could find a video called Fucking my stepson for stimulus check.
Starring adult actress Alexis Zara, Instagram handle @zarasuicide for some hopefully non-portentous reason,³ this ‘Step Fantasy’ film is available as part of PornHub.com’s ‘Free Premium’ program. It depicts a transactional sex act between stepmother and stepson, the consideration for which is the $1200 COVID-19 stimulus check distributed to those earning < USD 75,000 p.a. in accordance w/ the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act 2020, signed by President Donald Trump on 27/03/20. Abiding by the market laws that require the sexualisation of everything, this video has finally made economic welfare an erotic instrument. The video’s politics are sui generis; it requires our attention.
II The Stimulus Economy
As we’re excruciatingly aware, COVID-19 has brought economic catastrophe worldwide. Mass lockdowns, terrifying death counts, authoritarian politics — with such anxiety pressing and swelling, phallusesque against the world’s unconsciousness, coronavirus panic quickly trickled into the porn world. Fucking my stepson for stimulus check is the fruit of this fear.⁴
Like our most pregnant dreams and tragic narratives, the video begins w/ a cracked family sapped of love. With an absent father, a nubile stepmom, and a disaffected, male only-child (here, known as the fucking loser stepson, AKA the FLS), the directors give us a phantasmic show.
Here it is: the FLS is trapped at home during the COVID-19 lockdown, where unjust parental authorities have made their ruling: No Girls Allowed. From this law, undergirded by a combination of quarantine concerns and moral austerity, the FLS has been left bored, sex-deprived, and I quote, extremely horny.
Another complication. In this echoing, empty home, his father is nowhere to be seen. Apparently, he is ‘on call’ — one can only assume he is a psychotically busy doctor — so the FLS is lonely, too. But luckily, he is not entirely isolated. His ostensibly sexy and weirdly coeval⁵ step-mother is ever-present. In theory — in burgeoning, purely taboo possibility — a sexual outlet is at hand.
With this loaded premise, the players efficiently establish their relational tension. Almost immediately, we learn of the awkwardness between FLS and stepmom, the result of her marrying his father and moving into their family home. A confronting change for both parties, no doubt, so the stepmother tries to proffer the proverbial olive branch. A communally-minded women, she sees quarantine as a time for solidarity and cooperation. In her eyes, their survival depends on their cooperation, so she suggests that they try to — yes — get closer to one another.
Despite these optimistic beginnings, the video’s first fifteen minutes basically consists of the FLS variously manipulating, demeaning and abusing his stepmother. Between florid acts of disrespect, he spies on her while she showers, dresses and sleeps. At one point, he rifles through her underwear drawer with olfactory intentions. He sniffs her panties: we are nauseated, even though one assumes we are to understand this as lustful.
Naturally, his actions produce disharmony within their house. But in accordance with porn logic, his provocation gives air not to resentment, but to a contrapuntal sexual tension. Though the FLS is insufferable and cruel, the players are drawn together as if possessed by spirits.
The arrival of the $1200 stimulus check — God bless John Maynard Keynes! — transmutes this sublime chance, this roiling tension into passionate action. Revealing a heretofore obscure spontaneity and opportunism, traits that are often the ambit of more entrepreneurial souls than he, the FLS immediately offers the check to his stepmom in exchange for sex.
At first, she is horrified by his request. But the allure of capital, lifeblood of the Stimulus Economy, proves too strong to resist. Despite her radiant protests (’You’re a fucking pervert, you know that?’ she cries) and her exacting sensitivity to the murmuring of her soul (‘This is… weird’, she mumbles while she descends, knee-wise) she commits to the act, moving the viewer toward that orgastic somewhere beyond language, the wild field of mammalian murmurs and nocturnal grips that pitch amorous beasts towards their blissful quivering.
They commit the carnal act. Then — inevitably — the fantasy withers. The dream dissolves when a comic irony arises after the, yes, money shot. Compensation in hand, the stepmother learns the stimulus check didn’t belong to the FLS. Addressed to his father, it wasn’t his to give. Moved to rage by his deception, the stepmother chases the FLS from the room, who laughs, terrified, as the video fades to black. The narrative is severed there, with an edit all too suggestive of an atheist’s death — that tumble into the dark nothing they forecast for the punctuation of their life. An ambiguous ending for these star-crossed lovers, then.
III Money Fantasy
Of this video, there is much to say. Ostensibly it was written and produced for arousal’s sake. Yet art always says more than its creators intend.
With an unwitting clarity, ‘Fucking my stepson for stimulus check’ illuminates the shadowy terrains of American mass psychology. This video is about every one of us. The soul of the collective. Our most private thoughts. It’s a dream-parable that reveals the foundations of post-industrial life. Burning here in incandescent fashion are the masculine mind’s invisible furies, its passions for the transcendent powers of money, reified and deified ad infinitum. The irascible loneliness of men. The searing will to power that we all propagate, and to which we are beholden. A confluent fever dream of finance, incest and misogyny is emblazoned upon this video’s fabric and flesh; red hot threads, woven into a blazing fantasy.
Let us pick at this embroidery. Loosening our first inflamed fiber, we come to the economic implications of this video, which shows how a state’s gratuity, given in a time of desperate need, can be misspent and abused when received by an antisocial psyche. Let us consider the check itself.
As we’re well aware, Keynesian stimulus aims at a “comprehensive socialisation of investment” in moments of economic crisis. At its heart is the paradoxical aim of supporting “individual initiative” via government intervention.⁶ Both 1929 and 2008 taught us that this is necessary where investment collapses. The economy otherwise falls into a self-fulfilling depression.
For this reason, Keynesian stimulus is both individualistic and socialistic. History shows it’s among the more successful attempts to synthesise these competing tensions. This, however, is lost on the FLS, who only sees individualistic opportunity in the $1200 check. He spends the economic stimulus on the Stimulus Economy, pursuing pleasure in a grey-market, illegal and incestuous sex transaction that won’t improve GDP, and which could destroy his family.
While he could have used it to repair his society and his relationships, the FLS uses the money to dissolve his social connections. By paying his stepmother to fuck him, he eradicates all bonds between himself and others except “naked self-interest, callous ‘cash payment’”. Though he achieves orgasm, he drowns himself in the “icy water of egotistical calculation” (Marx). And so, with the power of money, he plunges himself into solitude.
Against this lonely expenditure, however, we can detect a perverse form of hope. The desire to pay for sex is usually one held by ferociously lonely men. Often enwrapped within this want, however, is a yearning for connection. Some men who pay for prostitution seek an amorous experience, replete with tenderness, compassion and real desire. Essentially, they hope money can buy them love. In money, then, these men inscribe a near-religious function. Quietly, they believe it can summon desire from nothingness, creating love ex nihilo.⁷
We can only guess whether the FLS holds this fantasy himself. The stepmother, however, seems to subscribe to it; the state’s liquidity injection transforms her desires throughout the video. At first, she is disgusted by the act. But eventually, her inhibitions slip into the abyss, and she descends into a Dionysian ecstasy, face writ with real pleasure. Yes, she consents to the sex out of a passion for cash — that “semi-pathological” propensity (Keynes) — but eventually, she begins to enjoy herself.
Irrespective of his own belief in this curious metaphysics of money, then, the FLS transmutes disgust into pleasure with money. He creates love with cash. In the video, we can therefore detect that silent hope held by consumers of prostitution; nothing less than a belief that financial power can eliminate loneliness.
Like all our most intense passions, however, this optimism is short-lived. Mirroring the male mind in the wake of orgasm, the stepmother’s desire immediately disappears when she learns the money wasn’t his to give. Her love recedes into the nothingness from whence it came, which is fair enough, in my eyes. After all, by deceiving her about the money, the FLS effectively raped her.⁸
To paraphrase Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose, we don’t need to call Vienna to understand the psychoanalytic implications of this ‘Step Fantasy’ video. Much like a certain tragedian’s bloodiest work, Fucking my stepson for stimulus check is an archetypal story of pleasure, aggression and familial catastrophe. Like Oedipus Rex, it depicts a fatal moment of betrayal, whose Freudian undertones can’t be ignored.
Basic psychoanalysis suggests that by fucking his stepmother, the FLS fulfils two deeply repressed urges. First, he satisfies a latent sexual longing for his biological mother, for whom his stepmother is a symbolic substitute. At the same time, he commits an act of violence against his father by conquering the patriarch’s sexual partner. Aided by Keynesian stimulus, the FLS satisfies his Oedipal fantasy, fucking his (step)mother, and symbolically killing his father(’s authority).
We don’t doubt that pain fuels this violence. One suspects the FLS has endured a life of neglect and disintegration. The video suggests an absentee father who prefers his work to his son. Moreover, it leaves his banished mother unmentioned; she is a silent ghost. And after the rupture of his unhappy family, he is made to isolate with his stepmother, a woman symbolic of his psychic wounds.
Were he to complete the work of mourning, he could liberate himself from the pain of his past. He instead chooses a typically masculine path, crushing his traumatic past with sexual violence. In doing so, he tears at the very foundations of his family. We can only assume that they will not recover from his consanguineous aggression. If this is the case, and if his violence proves irreparable, he will have completed the tragedy whose writing began in his childhood. Hurt by the divorce that tore his family apart, he causes a repetition of the trauma that has so pained him, this time inflicting it against his father and his stepmother. Of course, his violence is self-sacrifical; he will not emerge unscarred from the act.
As is proper to his tragic play, the FLS ends up like that sad King of Thebes, his world in ruins. Nonetheless, there is a critical difference between Sophocles’ play and our video. While Oedipus was rendered blind, Antigone remained by his side: the FLS, however, essentially commits relational suicide, sacrificing his family to demonstrate his power while furthering his isolation. His quest for authority gives him solitude. Unlike Oedipus, then, the FLS ends up utterly alone.
Mirroring his monetary dreams, then, the step fantasy is also a hope for loneliness. His is a truly sad fantasy.
V Male Fantasy
Take a quick look at the homepage of PornHub.com. Scroll through the titles on offer. Search up Fucking my stepson for stimulus check if you haven’t already. Good. Doing so, you’ll learn that our video’s production values are of a piece with its contemporaries, many of which are shot in the point-of-view, or POV style.
Pioneered in the late ’80s by On The Prowl’s Jamie Gillis, whose gonzo videos became possible after Sony released their Betamovie BMC-100P in 1983, the POV style is ubiquitous on PornHub.com today. Often filmed at zero cost using the actor’s iPhone, the POV film has an obvious psychological appeal over alternative forms of camerawork. The reason for this is simple. Third-person cinematography depicts action — however, POV film has a unique ability to show vision, and can condense a character’s subjectivity to its most important elements. Unlike other techniques, POV film can simulate perspective, capturing a character’s truth in a way that other techniques cannot. Beyond the aesthetic advantages of the format, the creation of perspective reminds us that there are other subjectivities like ours. Done right, it heightens the empathic response to film, and tells us that we aren’t alone in this world.
In POV pornography, filmmakers typically reduce the man to his bare essentials. Much in the way that it turns the shooter who livestreams his crime into a hateful spectre with a gun, POV cinematography changes the porn star into something akin to a masculine ghost. We see the world through phallocratic eyes, where he is no more than a voice and a hovering cock possessed by an orgastic drive, infinitely desirous of women who seem unable to resist his advances.
By depicting men with such brutal simplicity, POV pornography thereby becomes a paradoxical format. The POV style itself elicits our sympathy, asking us to identify with the perspective on screen. Yet the pornographic subjectivity displayed usually treats women with contempt — as objects, fantasy images, or subhuman things. While POV pornography demands our empathy, it frequently depicts men who lack empathy for the women they desire.
This contradiction is precisely what we see in Fucking my stepson for stimulus check, where the FLS rapes his stepmother, a woman whose autonomy and integrity is dissolved by his false promise of money. To find arousal in this scene, we must empathise with an abusive young man. Yet he is beyond empathy, for he desires nothing more than his dominance of a world deprived of female subjectivity, but replete with their giving bodies.⁹ The film therefore demands nothing less than our endorsement of the isolating power of male exceptionalism: it asks us to understand a man who willingly disregards the object of his lust. A boy who makes himself lonely in the company of others. A mind that deliberately places itself beyond capacity to relate. POV porn has always been iso-sex, in a way.
VI Power, Loneliness & Individualism
Fucking my stepson for stimulus check is threaded with overlapping narratives of money, incest and misogyny. Though they appear discrete, a ruling principle governs these imbricated fantasies. In concert, they produce a distinct ideology.
While it may not be immediately apparent, especially for those who engage the video solely as pornography, the twin forces of American individualism — power and loneliness — are at work here. As we have seen, whether the FLS’s actions concern money, his Oedipal fantasies or his will to dominate women, they have one of two results. Either he achieves his empowerment at the expense of other subjectivities, or he makes certain the destruction of his relationships. His desires reach exclusively for empowerment or isolation. While it appears in two inimical guises, the FLS really strives after a single goal: all his acts are adumbrated by the shadow of individualism. Achieving either authority or isolation, the FLS ensures his life is devoid of empathic connection to others. His final, most personal desire is his individuality. We see that, beyond his pains and passions, the FLS wishes to fall through life as though it were a void. He hopes to live like an atom, a star, a frictionless object whose passage is disrupted by no-one, and which subsists beyond the reach of the uncertainties and anxieties that necessarily result from connection to other human hearts.
Man denuded of his community: this is the mode of individualism that today underlies our economic transactions, the disintegration of our families, our amorous relations, and the video at hand. A problematic fantasy in many ways — the least of which is the self-reinforcing fear that drives and secures its dominance —but in my eyes, its most significant flaw is its inherent nihilism.
As many philosophers have argued, our relatedness to others is an inescapable fact of being. Even the most lonely people in this world were once the children of men and women. Thus, aman’s preference for a false individualism over his original connection to others obscures the fact that his loneliness is the consequence of deliberate action. And this obfuscation is precisely what Nietzsche would call nihilism: the individual man substitutes an appearance for the real world.
Of all the swirling ideas and images contained in this video, this grandly, cellularly American individualism, this nihilistic drive towards isolation within an economy of pleasure, struck me most firmly. Fucking my stepson for stimulus check either deliberately or unwittingly promotes this ideology: it is woven into the film’s every frame.
The strength of this depiction is overwhelming. Our own proclivities will lead us to find it either arousing or uncomfortable (or both). Yet its power also gives it the potential to inspire a break with this pervasive ideology. The film makes clear the terror of nihilistic individualism: as we have seen, the attentive viewer can find a fine depiction of the barbarous and irascible grounds of the masculine mind, the lonely sex, whose aggression and lust for power is dwarfed by the utter isolation necessary to his solipsistic fantasy. By driving this ideology to its apotheosis, allowing these fantasies of money, misogyny and incest to reach a confluence, its rapacious loneliness and sheer violence of spirit cannot be ignored. Though it seeks to arouse us, the video instead gives us knowledge.
With the lucid knowledge that flows from the video’s distasteful clarity, we cannot but cry for change. Perversely, the video gives us a form of hope, making clear the necessary direction of progress. To change our society, we must begin with a revolution of our hearts and minds. We must retrieve our men from their individualistic, nihilistic wastelands and bring them back to the world of real, human connection. And we must dissolve the delusions that stymie the communal spirit original to human beings. Failing this, iso-sex, our lonely mode of romance, will persist long after COVID-19 has vanished from this world. A stimulus economy, devoid of love, is all that will remain.
¹ In yr. author’s opinion.
² In at least one ranking.
³ An eerie handle, given the recent spate of deaths in the adult industry, incl. Olivia Lua,(a) nominated for ‘Hottest Newcomer’ at the 2017 Adult Video Network Awards, dead at 20 y.o. due to a severe but probably preventable UTI that spread to her kidneys and led to sepsis, and August Ames,(b) thrice nominated for ‘Female Performer of the Year’ at same AVN Awards, dead at 23 y.o. due to asphyxia by hanging.
3(a) Final Twitter post: ‘I feel it everywhere, nothing scares me anymore 🌙’
3(b) Final Twitter post: ‘fuck y’all’
⁴ But it is by no means the only video in the incest-fantasy/COVID-19 themed videos. A brief search revealed other video titles I couldn’t bear to watch incl. ‘Finessing Homeless Cousin Out of Stimulus Check’ by BlackMatombosPrey. I also tried to check whether the 2008 GFC stimulus package yielded similar porn productions, but in my (again, mercifully brief) search I couldn’t find anything.
⁵ According to her profile page on PornHub.com, her birthdate is Nov 30, -001 (sic), a date that suggests she is 18 y.o at the time of writing.
⁶ The General Theory of Employment, Interest & Money, pp. 378–380.
⁷ There is a homology here with the modern banker, who creates credit and private money ex nihilo with the assumption that it will bring wealth into being that otherwise wouldn’t have existed.
⁸ In certain jurisdictions, misrepresentations about the compensation offered for the act — i.e. fraud — abrogates consent, and sex without consent is rape.
⁹ Or ignore the video’s implications entirely.