So I was listening to this in the car today…
…And I thought, “Who is this guy?”
Most critics of Centerfold take a feminist slant, focusing on notions of male possessiveness and the commoditization of the female body.
Not me. I thought, “Have I met this guy? What’s he look like? What’s he like?”
And I realized I did know him. His name’s Francis because his parents wanted to make his school-life synonymous with an endless asskicking.
He’s between 18 on the low side — he can legally buy a skin-mag — and 25 on the high side — not so old that his homeroom angel’s too old to strip for the nudies.
I haven’t done comprehensive research on the average age of Centerfold models, and I doubt Google’d turn up useful, not-littered-with-pornography results, but I doubt female-objectifying careers like porn have even as long a shelf-life as male-objectifying ones like football, basketball, and Alec Baldwin.
Chronic social anxiety killed Francis’s chances of finishing college. The judging eyes of his classmates and professors told him he’d never amount to anything, so he proved them right. His quarter-time job at the local convenience store affords him a shitty apartment with intermittently-running water and the bare discretionary income for a monthly subscription to Generic Fantasy RPG Online, eroge, figmas, and entry fees to fandom conventions — his only real source of non-rote human contact. At these cons, he and like-minded creeps form posses to leer at cosplay girls. While in this safe-zone, he’ll say things like, “She’s only con-hot. Maybe a 4,” with the entitled indecency of the supremely deluded.
Lost on him: his own insufficiency as a mate.
Meet Jane, his high school idol.
When Jane occasionally said nice things to him, Francis misconstrued her kindness as flirting and crushed so hard he’s still holding onto it over six years later. He last saw her on graduation day.
He insists to his otaku posse at cons, his raid guild, and fellow deep-internet forum-dwellers that he and “Jane-chan” had a thing, even as he desperately faps to the one cell-phone snapshot he’d snuck of her in homeroom junior year. The fact he’s wrangling the winking weasel to the picture of a fully-clothed seventeen year old genuinely hasn’t crossed his mind.
But Jane-chan isn’t Jane. Jane’s a changing, growing entity, an adult woman who threatens Francis’s fragile, insecure fantasies. Jane-chan’s a sanitized, safe copy, an angel — inhuman. Even in High School, when Jane was there to jar his vision, he still saw Jane-chan, so over Jane’s six-year absence, that bubble seemed to grow only thicker.
Then, one day, flipping through the skin-mags at his convenience store, he saw her and that actually still thin bubble popped.
“Return that pure image of Jane-chan that I once had to my mind!” he screams, his once-safe schoolgirl fantasy crushed like a rotten pumpkin thrown before a semi. For a moment, the bubble remains popped. Then, as he stares at the picture, his nose starts to bleed just a little.
“Jane-chan’s a naughty girl…” he mumbles under his breath. A customer glances at him sidelong before scooting further away. He spends the day in his revised fantasy — a hotel room — negligee under the sweater-and-skirt — until his shift ends, and then buys the magazine and rushes home, his intent clear.
Why else would he buy that mag? To support her career? Hah!
[Note, the anime is Welcome to the NHK, and yes, I know that Satou and Misaki didn’t go to school together. Alec Baldwin is Alec Baldwin, and yes, I know he’s still gorgeous. ]