September 29th, 2008
A new web site promises to answer "the only question that matters." Who's sexier — Democrats or Republicans?
Sexy female and male voters can now upload their photos to SexiestParty.com and secretly whisper their political loyaties. Strangers on the web rate their attractiveness before the site exposes the secret — whether the picture was a luscious liberal or a cuddly conservative — while running tallies compare the sexiest people in each party.
"Sex and sex appeal have always been a part of politics," the site explains, "but with so much attention being paid to Palin's looks and Obama's charm, it's become a national obsession!" In just a few days the site's racked up nearly 20,000 pageviews, and every visitor has spent almost six minutes clicking around the site. Like Barack Obama, the sexy Democrats currently have a slight lead, while the contest has yet to reach its final climax.
But is this just internet fun, or a dark satire on the shallowness of the electorate? I pinned down the site's spokesman, who was leaving to enjoy an art festival and then watch Friday's debates "along with two or three extremely sexy female poly sci students." His email ended with the words "Stay sexy," but he agreed to do a short interview.
And the word "sexy" just kept coming up.
D: Your site's slogan is "May the sexiest party win."
SP: I think it's just inevitable. And really, honestly, four years of sexy people is better than four years of non-sexy people.
D: But why does it matter which party has sexier members?
SP: The fact that it has no significance is what matters. ;) It's fierce political competition on an issue that has no relevance to good governance. It's Bill Clinton's blow job. Palin's moose hunting. Obama's middle name. McCain's houses.
D: If Americans really will elect the sexiest party, then that means you hold the key to the November election's outcome.
SP: Yes. We do hold the key.
D: I mean in a sense, your site measures which party has the "sexiness edge."
SP: We're providing a public service. Everything else has been covered. The political sensibilities have been mapped and decoded across the land. But the one thing that seems to be missing is who's sexier, so to some extent, we're providing those data points as a public service.
D: What makes you think people on the internet are going to be interested in sex?
SP: It was just a wild hunch.
D: If I'm rating the male Democrats, will I eventually see a very sexy photo of Barack Obama?
SP: The more prominent members of the party, the candidates themselves, get plenty of exposure. I think there's already a solid sense of their sexiness on the spectrum. It's really the real people — the real Americans — we're interested in helping out.
D: But you sound kind of cynical about the choice of Sarah Palin.
SP: We're not the least bit cynical. Sarah Palin, and Obama too — he's also very photogenic, as has been pointed out. And this is nothing new. John F. Kennedy was also criticized for being basically a physically, aesthetically-pleasing candidate.
D: Are you saying that a sexy undercurrent leads to success in politics?
SP: We'll see with this election.
There is a thesis statement in there somewhere, and certainly a critique. I mean, once Palin got into the race, our site suddenly became that much more relevant. It was a demarcation of the shallowness of this whole process. We foreground that shallowness and give people a place to duke it out in our context. It is a place of real competition, but it's also satirical as well.
One interesting thing about this project is we're providing a forum where two different parties actually are on the same page. Both political viewpoints are so skewed. With the division in our culture, it's pretty rare to find a forum where both sides are presented objectively and on par. In version 2.0, we're even going to implement information about each party's participation levels on the site.
D: It's true that America is sharply divided now by a real and bitter partisanship. Do you think maybe you've found the missing common ground?
SP: We're bringing people together so there's no partisanship. We're trying to really focus on the issue that really matters, which is sexiness. (And we also don't allow comments, because we don't want it to devolve into bad behavior.)
This will seem convenient, but I came up with the idea when I was thinking about how deeply and personally many people take the red/blue divide. To the point of having it limit their options in life in areas that really have nothing to do with politics. Reporters ask which party is sexier at the end of interviews as a joke... but there are a lot of people who take it seriously.
D: So then is this all really just about the sexiness?
SP: Well, the site's definitely playful and sexy. But it does hint at some of the silliness inherent in how the red/blue divide has invaded issues that have nothing to do with politics. Why can't good god-fearing hockey Moms enjoy the odd latte?
D: Isn't this kind of sexist?
SP: Yeah, I guess. The whole culture is guilty of that as well. We really don't like to get involved in these kind of issues. We can't be held accountable for the sins of the culture. We just reflect. That's all we do.
D: I guess the "pursuit of happiness" is an inalienable right.
SP: And we all know that sexiness equates to happiness.
D: So if a party is determined to be sexier — does that mean I should join it?
SP: It might sway people to reconsider their positions.
D: Are you a Democrat or a Republican?
SP: We're a non-partisan site, so I really can't say. It's a very sexy party though.
D: There is something timely about your site. This year there've been high profile sex scandals — often, involving the most moralistic politicians.
SP: In all seriousness it's like that generation forgot they were young at one point in some ways. There's sort of a reaction against the excesses and dalliances of their youth, perhaps.
D: But didn't the other half of the political spectrum just embrace all their sexy urges?
SP: In some way, maybe we're putting our finger on sort of the dividing point of the culture. Maybe it really is all about sex — and the reaction against the permissive behavior in the 1960s and how that shaped the great ripples in our culture since then. It seems like we've actually gone backwards. We've gotten less permissive and less open to different types of behavior.
Maybe now through our site, they can lust after their deadly opponent — their enemies.
D: I thought they'd want to lust after the hottest members of their own party.
SP: There's certainly that as well.
D: So if Sarah Palin reminds voters of a sexy librarian, does that increase McCain's chance of getting elected?
SP: Palin is pretty sexy — but I need to see her with her hair down. Palin is definitely my type, yes. Brunettes with glasses. Of course, I want to emphasize that we're an objective non-partisan site, so we really take no position on sexiness vis-a-vis party affiliation.
D: Interestingly, Sarah Palin is actually opposed to sex education.
SP: It makes her seem a little bit like she's playing hard to get. That coy Sarah Palin. (You're not using my name, are you? I don't want any death threats.)
D: Your secret is safe with me.
SP: As you might have guessed, I'm developing this project under an alias... Too many nuts in the political world, and you never know who might get pissed off!
D: Are politically-active Americans sexier than, say, politically-active Canadians?
SP: Oh, absolutely. We're launching a Canadian version of the site to find out — to see how they compare. And we also think that sexiness knows no geographic boundaries.
D: So when will the Canadian version of your site launch?
SP: We're aiming for Monday. [The site just went live a few minutes ago.] It's at sexiestparty.ca. And of course, these are just the first two. We plan to roll them out into all the major political markets across the globe.
D: Maybe you've inspired a sense of national pride.
SP: They're coming from all across this great country of ours, from the farmlands to the urban portions of the country. From sea to sexy sea.
D: One study found that immediately after 9/11, casual sex increased dramatically. I wonder if we're now approaching another spike with the ongoing Wall Street meltdown.
SP: Living for the moment, I guess. Certainly we in no sense condone that — but we also don't condemn it, either. Obviously this is a frothy bit of frivolity, but hopefully there's an appeal to comic relief in these turbulent times, something to look at that's not so weighty.
D: So what happens if someone is determined to be the most sexy member of their political party? Do they get to break ties in the Senate?
SP: As it is an ongoing competition, they're encouraged to keep up the sexy fight lest they fall behind in the sexy race.
D: Why can't libertarians be sexy too? Right now your site only lets me judge Democrats and Republicans on the basis of their appearance. Why can't I also make sex objects out of Ron Paul supporters?
SP: I agree. I'm actually pushing to get third parties implemented on the site too.
D: I see that you registered your sexy domain all the way back in May.
SP: Yes. Due to our programming team's very active sex lives, progress on the site has been slow. There have been a lot of "candidates to interview," so to speak.
If we all weren't so damn sexy it would have been finished a long time ago.
D: But has the site also helped you hook up with other sexy people?
SP: It's not about me. It's really all about the American people.
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