When I look at Keith P. Rein’s work, I immediately think of Amanda.
Amanda was one of Beth’s old back in the day buddies. She was several years younger than everybody and she didn’t fall directly into my orbit until after she graduated college, well after Beth and I were already married. This was about eight years ago.
During those eight years, we developed a close friendship, which has been punctuated with waxing and waning periods of love-hate. I’m an insensitive, Gen X Bill Maher progressive, and she’s a thought conscious Millennial, now working at Berkley. I’ve unfriended her about four times on social media, usually when an online argument induces one of my Walter (Sobchak) episodes.
Keith P. Rein centered around a Robert rage doozy.
The Internet can be a scary place to run a business. Even the slightest hint of social or political posturing can lure dog-piling hordes of small-dicked, neo-Nazi comment trolls from a hundred dank Reddit caves. Blink and you’re getting targeted and doxed.
The other side of the shit-smeared coin is no better. The campus inquisitions have been stretching on for half a decade now. Mobs of humorless SJWs, often speed ball high on a freshman’s understanding of cultural studies, roam social media, patrolling and scanning every word and photo for potential crimes against sensitivity. They’re always ready to hold an immediate progressive purity trial where no one accused can be innocent.
From a business point of view, getting targeted by bitter liberal puritans is worse. The mouth breathing alt trolls just call you names; social justice warriors itch to scarlet letter a suspected thought criminal’s moral integrity.
When I launched my street wear e-commerce company, Death by Party, I was well aware of the landmines that surround a social media business account. Our goal was to be as edgy as we could. In the past, I wouldn’t think twice about going full throttle Mapplethorpe, but this project was a different beast. There was a lot of money on the line. On our Instagram account, I was mixing product shots with photos of customers, and random images designed to build a visual narrative for the brand.
After a few weeks, I wanted to test where I could take it. I had been familiar with Keith P. Rein’s work and his P is for Penis merch brand for some time.
The artist’s digitally enhanced illustrations are pure click bait candy. They are sexually charged, but even the lewdest nudes in his portfolio have a playful, unexploitive vibe to them. I mean, if I hand to describe his more racy work, I would call it clever hipster erotica.
So I figured Keith P. Rein would be outrage proof. I picked a photo from his #foodporn series, which are illustrations of women in pornographic poses, eating phallic food. I chose an image entitled “Bombs Away” which was effectively a bomb pop blow bang.
Within seconds, the likes started piling on. In less than a minute, the first three comments were posted.
The first comment said “this is amazing.”
The second comment said “OMG, I fucking love this.”
The third comment said “this sexist garbage would be such a powerful artistic statement if a woman had made it.”
It was posted by Amanda.
My face flashed red knowing the chum was now in the water and I watched as the outrage flared and spread down the comments.
As I banged my fist, screaming that this time I was going to block her… I realized that she did have a point… But didn’t… She made sense… But was totally wrong… But wasn’t…
As I sit here, I realize that Amanda is kinda important. There are more than a few artists and subjects that we disagree about and I think I need and want her perspective. I’m going to see if she’s interested in having some discussions on here.
Let’s see if she’ll hang.
-Robert E. Brown