One nice thing about Los Angeles is that Las Vegas isn’t too far away. Four, four and a half hours by car. Less, if you flout the law in a reckless disregard for your safety and the safety of others.
This past weekend, like every weekend I’ve ever visited Vegas, I was shocked to see people with children there. What kinds of parents are these? Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the gambling–I played black jack once, lost forty bucks, and thought to myself, “Meh. How do people get addicted to this?”
What makes it disturbing is the gratuitous amount of sexuality on display. Seriously, they’re like, “Hey, sweet cheeks, here’s 15% more sexuality for your troubles.”
It’s not just the billboards, which are kind of abstract and detached, nor the clubs, which the kids can’t get into, anyway. Regular women are walking around on the street, wearing outfits my wife would be embarrassed to put on in the privacy of our bedroom.
And, of course, there’s the guys passing out fliers for escorts. They never cease to amaze me. Here come my wife and I, hand in hand, a young couple in love, and this guy thinks, “Ah, now these two are obviously paying customers. Clearly our target demographic.”
They’re like those guys on the boardwalk selling CDs, the ones with the giant headphones plugged into a crappy discman. They see me, a skinny white guy with glasses on rollerblades, and they thrust the headphones at me: “Do you like R&B? You like rap?”
What? Really? Does this work? This can’t be the most efficient form of market research.
The laws of supply and demand tell us that if thrusting random product at passers-by didn’t work, they would go out of business, right? But yet, they’re there. Is the escort flier guy really confused when we turn him down? He’s thinking, Wow, that’s the first couple who hasn’t snatched this out of my hand and grabbed the nearest phone in a sex-crazed frenzy.
So, that’s when the real salesmanship comes in. I mumble, “No, thank you,” averting my gaze, and he responds by… flicking one flier against the stack.
How can I resist? Let me tell you, Nick Naylor could learn a thing or two from this guy. (You thought I was gonna pull out Willy Loman, didn’t you? See, that’s why you read this blog: surprise.)
So, if you look up, there’s a naked woman covering herself with a feather boa; if you look straight ahead, there’s a woman wearing a slip of fabric held on by double-sided tape and the power of positive thinking; and if you look down, there’s a carpet of naked women covered with purple stars.
Can you imagine what all this hyper-sexualized imagery does to a child’s brain? A little boy is going to get a very distorted view of what to expect when he grows up (“What are those things?”), and a little girl is going to get an inferiority complex (“And why are they so big?”).
In short, once I have kids, I’m not going to go to Las Vegas for at least eighteen years.