Monday, December 30, 2013

Government waste at its tackiest

Posted By Patrick Howley 
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has provided nearly $1 million in taxpayer funding since 2010 to “The Popular Romance Project,” an academic program to study the genre of popular romance fiction.
The Project aims to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction, taking a global perspective,” and will culminate with a 2015 documentary called “Love Between the Covers,” a “content-rich website,” an academic symposium, and a “nationwide series of library programs dealing with the past, present, and future of the romance novel.”
Under Obama-appointed former chairman Jim Leach and Obama-appointed acting chairman Carole M. Watson, NEH has given $914,000 to the Project, according to Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual “Wastebook.”
President Barack Obama, whose re-election campaign was boosted by Democrat claims of a Republican “War on Women,” requested $154.4 million in funding for NEH in the fiscal year 2014 budget, a 5.1 percent increase, despite Republican efforts to cut the agency’s budget.
In the spirit of academic inquiry, let’s have a look at some of the book titles featured on the Popular Romance Project’s website, which was funded by a $250,000 NEH grant:
“The Wanderer” by Crystal Jordan (“Wasteland” series, Book 1): This book, set in an apocalyptic “Wasteland,” tells the story of Ezra, a mercenary/scientist, and Kadira, whose parents were slaughtered and who now is trading her body to Ezra in exchange for fuel technology for her clan. “…her deep, unexpected need for him is the torture she’s fought all her life to avoid. Worse, the greater her wrath, the more he seems to like it,” according to, so it seems like some harmful gender dynamics are going on here. Here’s an unedited excerpt of the book (which features “foursomes,” “boy on boy on girl,” ”sex at knifepoint,” “anal sex,” and also “ritual orgies”), courtesy of the author’s website:
“A black leather band covered her breasts and a loincloth stretched around her narrow hips. Rich white pelts dangled from her belt, concealing pouches that held her shamanic tools. Her legs were bare to the knee, where boots encased them like a second skin. He’d wanted those long legs wrapped around his waist for years now…”
“Kadira pulled in a deep breath, her breasts threatening to spill from the leather containing them. Biting back a groan, Ezra was unsurprised by his body’s reaction, his cock hardening to a painful degree. Always it was so with her, but she had never allowed him to touch her, even in the orgiastic indulgence of Spring and Fall Rites…He wanted to take, to claim…”
“This Rite, he would have her. In any way he could. She would be his and his alone. A shudder rippled through him as the thought made his cock throb. Yes. He refused to hold back any longer, refused to wait. Why he’d delayed this long, he didn’t know, but the time had come for action. Soon he would have that graceful body beneath him. Soon he’d sheath his cock in her tight, wet pussy. Soon he’d taste the sweetness of her juices, hear her scream his name as he made her come for him. Soon he’d have all that wildness in his arms. Soon.”
All right. We’re going to stop there with the excerpts. The website also features such titles as “Give Me a Texan” by Jodi Thomas, “Midnight” by Beverly Jenkins, “Rapid Fire” by Jessica Andersen, and “A Sense of Sin” by Elizabeth Essex, and celebrates the love affair between two black Marvel superheroes.
“Before Barack and Michelle Obama entered the scene as America’s black power couple, there was Black Panther and Storm from Marvel,” according to an entry on the website by a Muhlenberg College assistant professor.
“Both the black superhero marriage and its subsequent dissolution demonstrate that the meanings of popular black romance often transcend the personal bonds of fidelity and love between two people. In the case of Black Panther and Storm, romance becomes a way to forge and question connections throughout the African Diaspora, to disrupt (and sometimes reinforce) negative stereotypes, and to resist—perhaps unsuccessfully, in the end—a history of oppression embedded in narrow conceptions of racial politics, gender, and sexuality.”
There’s also, we kid you not, an article about the “Presidential Romance” between Barack and Michelle Obama that concludes with: “Representations of the Obamas’ marriage, as well as black popular romance, are rich with radical possibility. When we tell and consume stories of black romance and vulnerability, stories like those in Beverly Jenkins’ historicals or Gwyneth Bolton’s Hightower series, we challenge mainstream narratives about black people that tell us they are aberrant, peculiar, and deviant. When we imagine, and help others to imagine, black love, we tell the full story of black humanity.”
The Project has 12 professors on its Board of Advisors and partners with the American Library Association, International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, Library of Congress Center for the Book, Blueberry Hill Productions, and George Mason University’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.
The Project is also funded, among others, by the nonprofit trade association Romance Writers of America, which represents writers in what was already a $1.4 billion private industry in 2012 that wouldn’t exactly go under (go down?) if the federal government stopped paying to study it.
“Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities,” according to a disclaimer at the bottom of the website.

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