"Do you like boobs a lot? Yes I like boobs a lot! Boobsalot, boobsalot."
- The Holy Modal Rounders, Boobsalot, 1971
We processed some film the other day documenting an antiwar protest, and it looks like the late '60s are returning. The theme of the event was BREASTS NOT BOMBS (rather than my more alliterative and symmetrical extrapolation) and a goodly number of ladies of various ages and sizes (though mostly young, pierced and tattooed) exuberantly bared their breasts and waved their signs. It made for, among other things, an interesting random sampling of breast variety, and confirmed my own unscientific opinion that nine out of ten pairs of breasts do not conform to arbitrary standards of geometrical beauty, and that they vary just as widely as do the faces of individuals. The advent of breast implants and pervasively relaxed media has taught the nation exactly what the perfect breast should and must look like; however, there is a primitive biological core to people, and many men (such as myself) stubbornly and inexplicably continue to enjoy the appearance of all sorts of breasts, whether large, small, firm or sagging, with an amazing variety of nipples, and regardless of whether the breasts are exhibited in a deliberately sexual manner or simply as a political statement in favor of general liberty and nonviolence. The obvious exception, of course, is when the breasts are attached to a fat guy. We don't want to see that. I'm sorry, but it just puts me off. Sue me, gentlemen brassiere wearers.
This earth-shaking transformation in accepted norms of mammalian beauty has occurred during my own lifetime, and is well-documented in the pages of Playboy. In my youth the Playmates of the month, though carefully chosen for beauty and a certain vivacity, exhibited a wide range of breast sizes and types, and some of these women did not work out at all! (They liked skiing, backgammon and cute guys who don't lie too much.) Now, of course, one can count on the girl to be taut, toned, perfectly proportioned, and endowed by the surgeon if not by nature with twin bazookas which, if removed and placed back-to-back, would form a perfectly spherical critical mass of artificial pulchritude - a megaton synthetic sex-bomb. Oddly, though, I get no lift, no zing, no propulsive force, from these machine-made hemispheres, the best that a great civilization can produce. Could it be that sexual beauty is more than a set of curves drawn by a computer and stuffed down our held-open eyeballs every day, like poor Alex in Clockwork Orange being forcibly deprogrammed of his natural impulse to bash old ladies? The technique eventually failed on him, and it has failed on me. But if it were to succeed with the younger generations, whose whole world is virtual, what will become of our species? I heap ashes on my head and bewail this mechanical degeneration of humanity. But no one is listening - they're all watching Survivor: Beverly Hills, in which the contestants vie to secure the services of the best plastic surgeons. Oh dear. Woe, etc.
I take heart, though, in seeing the spirit and attitude shown by these women; they are gleefully whipping off their shirts, ostensibly in emulation of the famous image of Liberty carrying the tricolor banner, but also, of course, as a gesture of defiance directed against the stuffy, repressed, secretly decadent ruling class, knowing that their targets will see these bare breasts, cluck in simulated dismay and yet be secretly aroused, more by the chaotic sense of freedom that pervades such an event than the sexuality that is implied. This is a another primitive impulse, to stick old Dad in the eye and go your own way, and I really don't think it can be bred and bleached and scrubbed out of us.