myspace: free speech cause celebre, online pickup joint for big-boned teenage goths, or both?

blogLogo.gif‘Twas a big media weekend for myspace.com, the Santa Monica-based online social network you might not have heard of if you are over 24. First, David Brooks op-eds about it in the NYT. Predictably, he is shocked:

Every social environment has its own lingua franca, and the one on these sites has been shaped by “American Pie,” spring break and “Girls Gone Wild.” The sites are smutty. Facebook, which is restricted to students and alumni of colleges, is rollicking but respectable. But there is a huge class distinction between the people on Facebook and the much larger and less educated population that uses MySpace. The atmosphere on MySpace is much raunchier.

To get the attention of fast-clicking Web surfers, many women have posed for their photos in bikinis or their underwear or in Penthouse-parody, “I clutch my breasts for you” positions. Here’s a woman in a jokey sadomasochistic pose. There’s a woman with a caption: “Yes, I make out with girls. Get over it” – complete with a photo of herself liplocked with a buddy.

The girls are the peacocks in this social universe. Their pages are racy, filled with dirty jokes and macha declarations: “I’m hot and like to party. Why have one boy when there are plenty to go around?!” The boys’ pages tend to be passive and unimaginative: a guy posing with a beer or next to a Corvette. In a world in which the girls have been schooled in sexual aggressiveness, the boys sit back and let the action come to them.

Note to David Brooks: I think you’re more of a Friendster type of guy. Meanwhile, the UK Independent writes up the MySpace/YouTube semi-crisis, quoting from one staunch defender of freedom of expression:

“MySpace is supposed to be a personal forum!” wrote “makisha” at the blog site Supr.c.iliu.us. “Now it’s owned by some corporation and it’s being sensored [sic]! The beauty of it has been ruined. Better wise up MySpace or you’re going to loose [sic] a good portion of your subscribers.”

Hey, Henry Clay couldn’t spell either.