I’m trying to make my mind up whether to do what Tigtog has done and de-link Barry, AKA Amp, AKA Alas, a Blog, from my blogroll. At the moment I’m inclined not to.
I love Alas. It was one of the first US blogs I read regularly. The posts there by Amp and others are long, meaty, informative. His link farm threads are always a goldmine. His caricatures are wonderful (not so much the strip cartoons, which don’t grab me). Above all, Amp has been a civil, rational, brilliant male feminist voice in the blogosphere, and in my mind has more than done his bit to move society forward just a little. But there is a problem.
A couple of months back, Amp, beset by financial problems, was approached by a buyer for the larger website, amptoons.com, of which Alas is a part. Amp no longer controls the site, except for Alas. The buyer – in a quite subtle sort of way – links, on the Amptoons home page, to “Amped Reviews”. These are reviews for, largely, pr0n.
The reason for the buyer’s interest is not that feminists will find their way to the pr0n links and be converted, but that by linking there in this way, he will improve his Google ranking on the back of the popularity of the Amptoons domain. In other words, feminist bloggers linking to Alas will boost traffic to pr0n sites – which is kind of a problem as a lot of feminists (not all of them) are not impressed by pr0n. To put it mildly.
You can read about it in his own words here. I’ve added “rel=”nofollow”" to the link, which apparently negates the advantage to the pr0n merchant.
Plenty of wise people have pointed out that Amp, who provides a public service for free, should be able to do anything with his own domain he bloody well likes. “…unreasonable — in fact, unjust — expectations of a blogger’s duties to them,” says Chris Clarke, and I have a lot of sympathy for that view. Others have pointed out that we all go to free sites like Google and MSN all the time, which link to all kinds of awful stuff, so why not.
I went and had a look myself, and it’s evident to me that the pr0n reviews and links are not just separate entities “hanging off” the Amptoons main page. Click on “review software” (which is an inaccurate description, although the reviews do include software), and it takes you to a page with the links in question. The page template has the soft yellow background with heading and graphics in terracotta – just like Alas, a Blog. The heading says “Amped Reviews”. if you’re new to Amptoons.com, it would give you the definite impression that “Amp” of Alas, a Blog and “Amped” Reviews would be the same person. It ties together the blog and the “review” page and identifies one with the other, even if this is specious.
Secondly, if you’re a regular Alas reader, the presence of paragraphs like these in the “review” pages will make your brain bleed out of your ears with the sheer dissonance of it:
Score: 92 | Added: Jul 13, 2006
Fleshlight. It’s like having a girlfriend, but without all the nagging and headaches. [Misogyny on Amptoons. Joy!] Now more dates with Ms. Michigan. Find out if the Fleshlight is the real deal.
Review of MILF Lessons
Company: BangBros Online
Date: Aug 8, 2006
Milf Lessons is, without a doubt, one of the best Milf sites out there. Every week, it features a new sexy mom, just dying to get it on with one of the young studs. These Milfs just get out of control when the camera goes on. The things they do and say will make even you blush. Each one is aged to perfection and presented in DVD quality videos.
I cannot say enough good things about Milf Lessons. These moms are super hot and down right dirty. Exactly what I, and all you are probably looking for. Each mom has her own full-length video …[Snip product description...]
…It offers a great mix in the types of women. Some of them are down right gorgeous trophy-looking wives, while others seem to be just your average hot mom. The one thing I did notice that they all had in common was their chest size. Most of these women have some rather large knockers. This seems true on a lot of MILF sites. I have my opinion as to why that is, but that isn’t very important.
Score: 85 | Added: Jul 22, 2006
As the hottest thing since slice bread, Liz Vicious is taking the Internet by storm. Find out if the red-haired goth teen lives up to the hype.
Oy, the spam I’m going to get having posted that.
Much as I sympathise with Barry/Amp’s situation, much as I admit I don’t know what I’d do with my own back to the wall, much as I leave the Pr0n / Anti Pr0n debate quite a way down on my list of priorities… I still think he’s seriously messed with his “brand”, as they say in corporate land. Or as we say here in Orstraya, he’s shat in his own nest.
I don’t feel condemnatory towards Amp. I just feel sad. I think he does too.