On ethics and responsibility.

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On ethical responsibility.

While I’m still not certain how to progress with video content on the site, I still edit captured footage for archival several times a week. I’ve always consciously shied away from posting any of the ModCon footage for several reasons- firstly because I truly believe that ModCon existed only for attendees and that our shared experience should have never been released outside of the group, but also because the content I have is straight up procedural footage. I was against the VCDs and DVDs circulating during their original release but I’m at least comforted by the fact that not many are floating around these days and as such they’ll never be used as a how-to guide for the next Instagram superstar. But what about other content?

As I was working on an archival project today I was becoming excited to share it with Sacred Debris readers. Edited together content from several silicone enhancement procedures (scrotum and penis) with an amazing monologue from Dr. Ronald Brown about his background and how he came to be the famed/reviled Modification Doctor and World’s Worst Surgeon.

It’s great stuff, especially Brown’s truly genuine concern for clients who’s needs fell outside of the medical status quo, particularly those who were seeking SRS.

But it’s also an up close look at the mechanics of silicone injection on a professional level.* In the year that we’ve been online, searches for some variation of silicone injection have accounted for 10k+ visitors, so there’s clearly a market for the procedure and very few people performing it.

Those who do offer it are often worse that Dr. Brown; peddling their services to anyone who can afford it and using non-biocompatible materials like mineral oil and even cement. Most of these butchers are working in the transgender community and not on modification fans looking for the kind of work shown in the video, but technique is technique and this would be Silicone 101 for folks looking for an instruction manual.

I’ve wrestled with this before- where does my ethical obligation lie when it comes to putting this sort of content online? Would I feel differently if it were a subincision procedure? Scarification? An implant? Obviously I think there’s room for a sliding scale of good idea/bad idea but where should the line be drawn?

I love posting the before & after interviews with the clients who’ve had these procedures done, but I’m just not sure that anything would be served with this kind of content being included here on the blog. Behind a walled garden like /extreme over at BMEZINE, maybe, but certainly not here.

What do you folks think?
I know we don’t get a lot of comments here, but if you have thoughts on this, let me know. And defend your position; if you’re a piercer who feels that it’s ok to show procedurals, would you film a piercing start to finish for the Web?

These are the things I think about at 4am.
*One could argue that, with the dangers associated with silicone enhancement there IS no professional level.

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Shawn Porter has spent the majority of his life in the modification world. As a body modification archivist and documentarian, he has one of the most extensive collections of documents relating to the early American body modification community in existence. He edited the SPC website from 1995 to 2005, co-founded ModCon, was the host of ModCons 3.5 and 4, and created and hosted The Scarwars Project from 2004-2007. In 2011 Shawn launched Occult Vibrations, a blog devoted to traditional American tattoos with a focus on the occult and esoteric. He currently resides in Philadelphia with his Italian Greyhound, Bailey, and his wife Julia.

12 comments

  1. I think your caution is justified, but sharing this material as an historical documentation is a good idea and should not pose any ethical questions. I really applaud your work and want to support your efforts.

    Skip

  2. For historical documentation I could see the interviews with the men who’ve had the procedures done being of much greater interest; even putting a 10 second clip of the procedure into the videos would preserve the idea without being as much of a how-to.

    And I appreciate the support- there are several options (Paypal and the monthly/yearly support subscriptions) that really help keep things going.

    1. I made a contribution today and plan to do so regularly. This community and meeting Jack Youant was a turning point in my own life and it’s good to see this memory preserved. FYI I found an interview with him in an old “Body Arts” magazine from the 1990s recently.

  3. With the spread of information being so widely available nowadays, your concerns are valid and appreciated by the folks (like myself) who wish heavier mods to stay under the radar.
    Perhaps editing the footage as to not show the entire procedure would be just as informative and still appealing to those genuinely interested.
    I would do the same with a piercing procedure. There are some awesome videos out there that are artistically very well done, and while they show actual footage of heavier mods being performed, there’s not a real “how to” feeling to them.
    I would definitely be super stoked to hear/see the interviews!

    Have you thought of maybe having some kind of BMEZINE/extreme like section of the blog where these type of things can be posted to those with a paid subscription?

    1. I’m not a super talented editor, but I’m playing around with it to see what I can do. Specifically with silicone enhancement it’s difficult- Dr. Brown had done so many that he had his technique down, and given some of the botched mineral oil injections I’ve seen- that’s a big part of why it looks so terrible. Above and beyond the biocompatibility issues. And the unsterile environment they operations are performed in. And a variety of other issues, I’m sure.

      Right now I’m working on isolating the audio track of the Doctor speaking and considering playing it over slides instead of motion video.

      And nah. I’m absolutely going to put up posts specifically for the folks who’ve done the ‘year subscription’ once I figure out how, but I would never want to compete with Extreme (which I helped create) for a variety of reasons.

  4. I agree with Lani. A place like Exreme would come very helpful, because concern is never too much in these situations. I’m kinda sure that a “lot” of people would take the video as an how-to for this kinda procedure, nonetheless this site is about documentation and bodymodification history, so a place where people with this kind of interest can watch this stuff is rightful. It is a milder version of the difference between selling guns and killing people. Am I wrong?

  5. I agree that this is a fuzzy line between responsibility and a want to document historically. As a non practitioner while I would be interested in the procedure just for knowledges sake I feel like the risk in copycating is just too high to post the full video publicly unfortunately. But I would love to see the before and after interviews and slide shows.

  6. I don’t believe there’s a place for front to back “procedurals” on the internet, be it heavy stuff Or just piercing. It illustrates steps taken, but offers no context, and no understanding. If copied step by step things Could always work out fine for just about anything, but if problems arise, there’s no instruction on problem solving. That being said, mini clips showing an interesting or particularly exciting moment during a procedure is all we really Need to have our thirst quenched 🙂

    Thanks, by the way, for this website! Watching the slow decline of BME content hurts, and it’s been wonderful to read all of this Amazing history here on sacred debris, and see new things posted fairly regularly

    1. I decided against publicly posting the silicone procedural. There’s a in-progress edit up for ‘Sandbox’ members, but it won’t be on the site proper. I spoke to a lot of folks privately as well as the public feedback here and it pretty much solidified what I was thinking- that posting anything ‘how to’ especially out of context is bad juju.

      For what it’s worth, Josh… I tried to post this kind of stuff on Modblog, but the readers didn’t seem to want it. They wanted something very specific, something that no one can give them. It was difficult to decide to give up trying on Modblog because I care for the legacy of BME/Modblog greatly, but ultimately it was better to just be something new. Or old. Since Sacred Debris is technically 21 years old. 😀

    1. The Sandbox is a testing page for videos that are still in the editing phase, so I can see how they play across browsers, see how the flow of the edits are, etc.

      It’s locked unless you’re me (or a site subscriber/supporter).

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