Goatse, in case you’ve just today discovered the Internet, is a closeup photo of a man’s absurdly gaping asshole. Don’t bother Googling it.
Not sure why, but I couldn’t just NOT read the full, several thousand word post about it.
The first couple hundred words are skippable garment-rending about the grossness of the photo and what propelled its spread as a meme. Here’s where you should pick things up (about 20% down the page):
The mere mention of Goatse will bring a wince—or a smile, depending on the person—to the face of the initiated.
But for all that, the full history of Goatse has never been told. After two weeks of staring deep into the metaphorical and literal black hole of Goatse, it’s easy to see why.
Kirk Johnson’s bios on his many porn site profiles describe a bisexual man with a penchant for huge black dildos. He’s anywhere from 45 to 48 years old, depending on which profile you go by. He’s stunningly prolific. His profile on the adult image-sharing site Imagefap, which holds the most complete collection of his work, boasts 15,156 photos, all of which have been compiled over the last five and a half years. His videos of xTube have been collectively viewed more than 22 million times.
The writer never actually manages to get the Goatse dude to respond to his requests for interviews, but it’s an interesting article nonetheless.
PS – This quote’s a keeper:
“If you’ve seen enough of his videos you can kind of recognize him pretty quickly. ‘Oh, I know that butt!’” Grey said. “He’s kind of a slender guy but he inserts these huge objects to an incredible depth. I admire his capabilities.”
Update: I’m sure this has been said elsewhere and better, but I was thinking about the whole Goatse thing over lunch (as a phenomenon more than as an image, but to answer what I’m guessing your question is, yes, I do have a pretty strong stomach), and it occurred to me that Goatse perfectly encapsulates a really fundamental dynamic of the effectively anonymous, disembodied and uncircumscribed social forum that’s grown into our Internet: If you’re going to participate, at some point you’re going to find yourself staring, figuratively and/or literally, into the unnaturally distended asshole of humanity, and if you have the stomach not to look immediately away, you can’t help but notice that there’s nothing metaphysically scary up there. It’s just flesh. And being privy to that insight gives you a tremendous amount of (trolling) power over those who still imagine there is (something scary up there); who regulate their thoughts to avoid going to that place where, it’s been implied again and again to them from childhood, something really terrifying and true about us and our nature lives. Which isn’t to say there isn’t such a thing, but what Goatse tells us is that what that thing actually is is a metaphysical void — there isn’t anything magical or transcendently either repulsive or fetishistically attractive up there. Just pink flesh. A confrontation, I kind of think, that’s almost as sad as it is liberating. We’ve internalized that the heart’s just a muscle, and even that the brain’s just a bunch of greyish tissue. Now we know too that what’s up one’s asshole is just more flesh (and presumably shit some times, but shit’s just shit). Not even in there can we find anything divinely or demonically special about ourselves.
I wonder if our performed disgust isn’t just cover justifying our turning away from that abyssal truth.
Time to clench back up and get to the work I’m actually being paid to do.
(PS – I realized I should probably acknowledge that there are people out there, some of whom are quoted in the Gawker piece, who stare into peoples assholes and see something positively stirring there. I wonder how they’d describe what it is (prob shouldn’t go searching around, tho, on my work computer). The impression I got from the one dude is it’s at least in part a respect for a kind of virtuosity. Hm.)