Hurts so bad, but tastes so sweet – Ashley Madison dotcom.


Reading: “The Modernization of Magic,” from The Reconfiguration of Wealth

Honestly, if I shared the foresight, wherewithal and moral emptiness that Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman had/has….I would’ve  followed the exact same scandalous and destructive path just to be as filthy fuckin’ rich as he is.

With a net worth of estimated at $100 million, Biderman embodies the successes of selling inherent vices that appeal to the common man, almost in the same exact fashion as the itinerant propagandists of the United States during the Victorian Era.

Be honest with yourself…

*guitar strums*

“I’m looking for someone other than my wife,

other than my wife. Other than my wi-ife.

Ashley Madison is r-iiiight!”

…That is one catchy jingle.

I’ll bet you a hypothetical buck that guitar is strumming through your brain right now. That catchy jingle, that I’m sure you’re singing to yourself by now… is the same carnivalesque sales technique used by James Whitcomb Riley and S.B. McCrillus. The hedonism of our own culture back then, was being appealed to by salesman. Propagandists who made empty (but intriguing) promises who also put on a show.

Ashley Madison is no different.

Carnivale is escapism. It is a fulfilled fantasy stemming from the plight of the average, under-stimulated man. This is not justification for their actions, but it is the manifestation of unfulfilled desires in a socially acceptable setting. Though it goes directly against our moral and religious dogma, no person will cast a stone at the man who buys and gets wasted off the “Magic Elixir” he purchased from the “doctor” who titles himself, “The Minister of Magic” at a Medical Exposition. It is the setting, and the culture for that matter, that allows man to feel like he can sip the forbidden elixir, or take part in tasting the forbidden fruit.

Society has provided the proper setting and developed the moral negligence that allows men to behave this way so freely.

Adultery in American society has been celebrated for years. A man who’s been married 3 different times is running for President, and one of American’s most captivating cultural icons, Marilyn Monroe, was sleeping with one of those Presidents, a Catholic for that matter.

(I didn’t even get into the Television/Film industry.)

(Question: How many shows/movies have you seen who’s plot partially revoloved around adultery? My Answer: Too many to count.)

America is the quintessential “Chapel on the Hill”, but it also houses the burnt city of Sodom, where folks of all creeds and classes engaged in sinful temptation of all forms. Ashley Madison is American duality at its finest.

Ashley Madison is a site exclusive to married men only. Marriage is a practice of Christianity.

Carnivale (de Venezia) was celebration for everyone (mostly Catholic). People (likely Christian) wore masks in complete anonymity as they engaged in sin. They gave in to their darker/unfulfilled desires during this time, because that was the time society dictated that it was acceptable to do so. And it’s still celebrated!

I’m not disgusted by Ashley Madison’s existence. In fact, I believe its perfectly appropriate for our time. If it’s not Ashley Madison doing then it would’ve been Madison Ashley instead.

Did you notice Ashley Madison actually utilizes Carnivale masks on their site?

It’s an homage to Carnivale de Venezia! It’s the idea of satisfying and  giving in to our inner-most/shitty human desires without consequence. Now that it’s virtual, it only makes it that much easier. Carnivale is 1 click away.

As far as the ad goes…there’s a catchy jingle that’s entertaining. It’s light, feel good.

There’s solidarity. 1 man turns to 2 men. Those 2 men become a thousand.

There’s the promise of results without consequences — It’s Noel Biderman’s Magical Elixir, and the people involved are taking part in Magical Thinking. Biderman, fulfills those desires for these men, but he is only who profits from them.

“Peep Game.” – Tupac Shakur


2 thoughts on “Hurts so bad, but tastes so sweet – Ashley Madison dotcom.

  1. I never even thought of the Ashley Madison website (and the following Ashley Madison scandal) as a perfect example of the duality of American culture; I was too busy thinking it was gross. But, it does show both the prevalence of “frowned on” behavior, and those behaviors being acceptable as long as, when publicized, you pretend to act ashamed or appalled. I also didn’t realize that this type of advertising, or magical thinking, is usually directed at male consumers solely, with female consumers being targeted with “fix everything that is wrong with you” instead of “its fine to do bad things as long as if confronted you say you will fix them.” All in all, this is an interesting case study on the matter.


  2. This is a really interesting take, for a lot of reasons. Ashley Madison probably is a good example of the double impulse toward containment and expansion that characterizes the dominant ethos of 19th-century American Protestantism. (the phrase is “City on a hill” btw, not chapel. Different implication). This is a nice piece of writing and aims toward sound analysis. It’s lacking a bit of precision though, and ultimately clear critique. Although carnival is more typically associated with Catholic cultures, Catholics are also Christian. Also, marriage is universal–by no means a uniquely or specifically Christian institution. It would have been more precise and you’d have made a stronger case that AM represents a 21st-century form of carnivalesque escapism in that it offers an escape from the boundaries and propriety of monogamous marriage. You might even have done some research to see to what extent its client base was drawn from the more conservative and Christian-identifying parts of the country. Suggesting that adultery, per se, is equivalent to the worst excesses of Sodom and Gomorrah comes off as a bit moralistic. Nor is divorce really an appropriate equivalent–unless you’re a very conservative Catholic maybe. There’s nothing particularly unique or even unusual about adultery. What Americans exhibit that may be unique, and again which you may be more accurately alluding to, is hypocrisy about it–glamorizing it on one hand and demonizing it on the other.

    In any case, if you’re going to make a strong, passionate argument, be clear about your facts, precise about your target, and perhaps a bit more dispassionate in your analysis. Although you may feel passionate about this, critical distance and a certain clear eye with regard to human behavior makes for a more solid case.


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