Monday, September 19, 2016

"Huckleberry Finn as a sex offender"/ Justin Berry

May 23, 2016 "Huckleberry Finn as a sex offender": I cut out this article by Donna Bailey Nurse in the National Post on Oct. 22, 2011:

Lost Memory of Skin By Russell Banks
Knopf Canada
416 pp; $32
Reviewed by Donna Bailey Nurse

Most of Russell Banks’s best-loved novels are set in the small, economically floundering towns of New Hampshire and upstate New York, or in hardscrabble South Florida neighbourhoods. His mostly male, financially strapped protagonists find themselves pushed to the fringes of their communities by their own frustration, by the rejection of their neighbours, or by some sordid combination of both. Banks does not espouse nostalgia for an earlier era:

His is a fallen world. Characters such as Bob Dubois of Continental Drift, Wade Whitehouse of Affliction and young delinquent Chappie from Rule of the Bone recall only fleeting fragments of happiness and stability. He warns of an approaching world in which families are an anachronism, community no longer exists, and human relations — even sensations — are irrevocably altered.

Banks is part novelist, part cultural anthropologist, and never more so than in his latest novel, the strange and riveting Lost Memory of Skin. It’s the story of a young sex offender who ekes out an existence under a causeway in South Florida. The Kid, as he is known, is befriended by a professor interested in homelessness. He is not one of Banks’ run-of-the-mill outsiders. Convicted of attempting to have sex with a minor, he is cast out by society in a way that is vaguely uncomfortable for us to acknowledge. Indeed, the Kid, we soon realize, is more victim than victimizer — the product of an era in which family breakdown has dovetailed most unfortunately with the age of information.

The novel is set in Calusa, Fla., where the Kid grows up as the only child of a single mother. Working as a hairstylist and prowling for men leaves her with little time for her son. The Kid fills the gaping void by playing with his pet iguana and watching Internet porn. When his school makes laptops compulsory, he becomes a bona fide addict, consuming up to eight hours of skin flicks a day. At 22, the only women he knows are writhing images and the only skin he has stroked is his own. What are the psychological repercussions, Banks asks, of defiling our most basic instinct?

The Kid winds up in trouble after meeting a young woman online and arranging to visit her home. She is just 14, but he tells himself that she is probably more sexually experienced than he is. He never finds out, of course. He is gleefully ambushed by her father in the kitchen before a SWAT team takes him down. It is a pathetic and ludicrous scene familiar from reality TV. You have to feel sorry for the Kid who is so naive, so confused, so much younger than his 22 years. Yet he is also scrappy and determined to hold his own.

The Kid serves a few months in prison and is sentenced to nine years’ probation, the conditions of which demand he live at least 2,500 feet from any children. There are three possible locations: Calusa Airport, the Panzacola Swamp, and under the Claybourne Causeway. The Kid chooses the causeway.  He and his pet iguana live in a tent by the shore, away from a collection of huts and lean-tos. He is the newest member of a colony of sex offenders that includes a seventysomething ex-boxer and a slick bodybuilder. Like the others, the Kid must wear a GPS device to keep authorities apprised of his whereabouts. A quick Google search reveals his criminal status to all.

It is under the causeway that the professor finds the Kid late one night. He invites him to participate in a series of interviews on homelessness in exchange for some social and financial assistance. A tentative friendship evolves. In appearance, the Professor is the mirror opposite of the Kid: he is tall and morbidly obese. And like many of Banks’s characters, he also suffers from addiction. The obsession for food dominates his life. The Professor grew up an outsider in his own family. He has never connected himself to any group and instead has inhabited a number of conflicting, secret lives. He claims to have been a spy and a double agent; an anti-war activist and a Vietnam vet. Yet none of these facts reveal anything genuine about his life, just as the information on the Internet in no way explains the true nature of the Kid’s experience. However, when the professor’s past begins to catch up with him, he asks the Kid for help.

With Lost Memory of Skin Banks crosses a cautionary tale about human sexuality with an adventurous account of coming of age, an idiosyncratic union to say the least. It succeeds through an infallible execution of voice that conveys and contextualizes the Kid’s bemused and searching perspective. In time the Kid is revealed to be as much of a descendent of Huckleberry Finn as Chappie from Rule of the Bone. He is one of Banks’s poor, white boys whose imaginations furnish them with hope for the future. They are a far cry from the tragic grown men — like  this novel’s Professor — who never manage to outrun their pasts.

Banks is an avid outdoorsman and the backdrop of this story is animated by his intimate knowledge of the moods and inhabitants of land and sea. Rather than merely imagining the world of the novel, Banks seems to have constructed it with his bare hands. His sentences are so muscular they are practically three dimensional, yet they propel us forward with aerodynamic grace. His style is unmatched, inimitable, inseparable, as it should be, from the moral integrity of the man.

This is intense and disturbing for some readers.  I am forewarning you:

Aug. 25, 2016 Justin Berry: Here is a really old flashback of 2006.  He is this teenage guy who was on Oprah and how he got a webcam.  Then he was sexually abused by people on the internet.  If you knew me back then, you may remember the story and how I went on forum and how there were pages of comments on it.  This is from 10 yrs ago, but I do remember it well.  There was a Law and Order: SVU ep based on it, and he later went on Larry King.  I watched those too.

Berry was 13 yrs old and then he got a webcam to meet people on the internet and mainly girls.  As soon as he got on the internet, he got all these people IMing him.  Later someone on the internet said "I'll pay you $50 if you do a webcam with your shirt off."  He thought nothing of it because he has been to the pool with his shirt off.  Then it got to take your pants off.  Then masturbate with the webcam on.  He thought nothing much of it because masturbation is a natural thing to do.  He was getting paid for it.

Then later there was something about meeting someone on the internet.  He told his mom he's going to Las Vegas for a tech conference.  He had a can of beer then he had sex with a guy.

His parents are divorced and he lives with his mom.  Later a kid at school found out about his webcam and posted pictures around at school.  Berry left school to move with his dad.  Later his dad found out about all this money he was making.  His dad helped him with the webcam show and didn't stop him.

Berry was having sex with prostitutes on his webcam. 

It was a very intense and serious episode.  I thought he was 100% victim. Afterwards, I went to this website and I was shocked and surprised how there were so many comments saying he wasn't 100% victim.  I can't remember all the comments, but here are a few I do remember:

Some comments were like this:

"That's why you don't put a computer in the kid's room.  You put it in the living room so you know what your kid is doing on the internet."

"What kind of parent lets their kid go to Las Vegas by themselves, even if it's for a conference?"

Here is one that's kind of offensive:

"I'm sorry, but the whole time I was watching this, I was thinking about South Park.  You know where Cartman goes on the computer and he writes "I'm a 10 yr old boy" and everybody starts IMing him.

You guys are probably like:

A. That is offensive.

B. That is funny.

C. Both.

I was offended by that.  Then again, the person did give a forewarning.

After all those comments, I was undecided.

Friends opinions: I was 20 yrs old back then and here are some of my 20 yr old friends opinions.  Back then they said this, but they could change their opinion.

Who thought was 100% victim: Leslie.

Who thought he was not 100% victim:

Angela: I remember she came to my house and I asked her about it.  Her opinion was like how he was like a teenager, but he would have kind of known if he was right or wrong in this.

Sonia: No one was putting a gun at him and forcing him to do it in the room.

Seventeen magazine: In 2007, a story about a girl who was forced to take a naked picture of herself or something like that, because the person on the internet threatened to kill her and her family.

Human Trafficking: I saw this back in 2005.  The women are 100% victims.

In Prague, Czech Republic, the single mother Helena is seduced by a successful handsome man and travels with him to spend a weekend in Vienna, Austria; in Kiev, Ukraine, the sixteen-year-old Nadia is selected by a model agency and travels to the United States with the other selected candidates; in Manila, Philippines, the twelve-year-old American tourist Annie Gray is abducted in front of her parents. In common, the girls become victims of a powerful international network of sex traffickers leaded by the powerful Sergei Karpovich. In New York, after the third death of young Eastern European prostitutes, the obstinate Russian-American NYPD agent Kate Morozov convinces the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Chief Bill Meehan to hire her, promising him that she would fight against this type of crime and that he would not regret. - Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

My experience: When I was watching Oprah, Berry did not say anything about being pressured into it.  In 2006, I would say in a way I was kind of pressuring and overwhelming this one person with all my emails.  I was sending like 3 little emails a day, which is a lot.  In 2016, I did apologize to him and all my friends in this email:

He accepted my apology.

In 2016, I did kind of made a mistake with this other friend of mine.  I bumped into him at the mall after work and he offered me a ride.  It was fun talking to him.  I then started emailing him on Facebook to go to all these Meetups that I go to.  He told me that I was being kind of pushy.  I did not mean to be pushy at all.

Aug. 26, 2017 This is a Canadian teen TV show, kind of like Degrassi.  There was this episode where Patti was interviewing this girl with a webcam show.  Later Patti and the girl was offered that if you show your belly button on the webcam, you will get a camera.  The girls do it and they get the camera.

Later, they were offered $100 each if they are topless.  Patti felt the pressure, but I don't think she did it.

My opinion: In 2006 I was undecided if Berry was 100% victim.  Now that I gathered all this information and looked at a real magazine story and fictional shows, I have made a decision.

He is 50% victim.  No one threatened him through the internet or physically in person. He went to Vegas on his own.  He wasn't kidnapped like in Human Trafficking.  There is no sexism involved because he is a guy and he can't be a victim.  If a guy was kidnapped and forced to do things, then I would say 100% victim.

My main reason is that he was getting paid.  In Human Trafficking, the women became prostitutes and they weren't getting paid.
On Wikipedia, it says this:

Eichenwald requested demonstrations of the workings of Berry's online business which Berry provided, including live conversations with subscribers. After Berry revealed the identities of children who were being exploited by adults, Eichenwald persuaded him to discontinue the business and turn his information about those minors over to the authorities.[1]

If you want to know more about him, here it is: 

Sept. 11, 2016: I decided to look up about how far it is from California to Las Vegas.  It's like a 6hr drive.  I'm not sure if he flown or take a bus there.  I would say that is expensive to get there.

Sept. 13, 2016: Berry went on his own to Vegas.  He got money, time, and effort.  The money could have come from someone else he was meeting there.  If the predator came to Berry, that's another thing.

Counter argument: This is to the counter argument of Angela saying that as a teenager, you know what's wrong and what's right.  It varies on person to person and what kind of situation.

Teen pregnancy epidemic: I wrote about this before on Tyra Banks.  This girl Jessica wants to have a baby with her ex- boyfriend and feels like when the baby comes, he's going to want to be with her and raise the baby together.  There is also Sue- Ann who wants to have a baby too with her boyfriend because she knows how to take care of babies.

As a kid in elementary school, I know getting pregnant as a teenager is not a smart or good thing to do.  There are some teens who are really dumb.  Fortunately, Sue- Ann's mom was there and cried, that made Sue- Ann not get pregnant.  Also 6 months later, Jessica did come on the show to say she didn't get pregnant after she saw herself on TV.

I tried to find the Oprah episode on YouTube, but I can't.  The thing is, you don't know Berry at 13.  I do remember there was a video of Berry with his shirt off and talking to his webcam.  It was a clip on Oprah.

Bad behaviour: Also as a teenager, I'm sure a lot of us have smoke cigarettes, drank alcohol, done drugs.  We all know it's wrong, but a lot of teens do it.

Creep catchers: My friend Sherry sent this to me, but I already know about it from reading the Edmonton Journal.  She did send me one thing about Teen Mom.

I also wrote a blog post in Jun. 2016 about it:

Kyle Mac on Twitter: This also reminds me of the time I tweeted to Mac about seeing his demo reel on a private site.  I told him that he can email me in a new email of his, instead of his personal email address.  He created a new email and I got to see the demo.

I was imagining what he's thinking like: "I don't know Tracy.  I have never met her.  What if she emails me a lot?  What if she spams me?  What if she gives my email address to other people?  Then I would have to transfer my contacts to another account."
So that's why I told him to create a new one. 

I just want to say this: I don't want anyone to email me about sexual predators or teen pregnancy.  I am so done with it.  I have written so much about Dateline: To Catch a Predator in 2011-2012 and teen pregnancy in 2009-2010.  They are important topics, but I had written enough about it.

Sept. 14, 2016 Try Alpha: I like and how it can have deep and meaningful conversations about important topics.  I wish I did have my blog back in 2006 and I had copy and pasted all those Twop comments onto it as a reference.  However, I do have this blog for years and it's a good reference.

I have told you about this before.  I had went to a friend of a friend's house to have deep and meaningful conversations.

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