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Friday, September 24, 2010

Spanking on "The Office"

Any fans out there of the NBC-TV show The Office? If you are, and you watched last night's season premiere, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you're not, bear with me.

The Office is a bizarre show to begin with; you either get it or you don't. Michael Scott (played by the brilliant Steve Carell) is an incompetent idiot of a boss, and we've all had one (or more) of those, so we relate, laugh and empathize with the office workers, all of whom are pretty damned quirky themselves (some more than others). In last night's episode (appropriately called "Nepotism"), Michael had hired his 20-something nephew Luke to be the new office assistant, and the kid was the worst, most obnoxious screw-up in office history, insulting everyone and incapable of getting even the simplest of tasks right (he's sent out to get ice cream for everyone, and he returns with one small container of soy ice cream and a bag of bagel chips).

Anyway, after much protest from the employees, Michael finally loses it with Luke (who is annoying people with a laser pointer), bends him over a desk and gives him a spanking in front of everyone. You can see the clip here.

OK... I've been reading the online reviews of this episode, and the general consensus (with a few exceptions) seems to be that the spanking scene was hilarious. That's what the average vanilla viewer thought. What did spankos think?

I cringed. I laughed a little, but mostly, I cringed.

OK, I hear the hollers of "Homophobic!" out there. That's not it. To be fair, most current mainstream spanking scenes have made me cringe rather than feel excited. I didn't like the spanking scene from Community last year, which was F/F. I freaking hated the two spanking scenes from Californication. And I didn't even like the Weeds spanking, even though it was M/F and the spanker was yummy. His technique was godawful -- he looked like a flailing marionette and he spanked one cheek over and over. But I digress. The fact that this spanking was M/M wasn't the issue; it was just creepy to me overall.

Why? Because (my opinion here; yours may vary) once again, spanking has been played for ridicule and laughs. It was an embarrassing scene, topped off by the nephew running out of the office crying (!), and the employees re-enacting the scene, mocking it. Some would say it made the character Michael Scott look stupid and inappropriate, which it did. (The damn fool referred to what he'd done as "capital punishment.") But it also made spanking into something silly and inappropriate too. As a spanko, this bugs me.

Am I taking this too seriously? Or did others have the same reaction? I'm genuinely curious.

There are some spankos out there who rejoice at these scenes, cheering and saying, "Spanking is becoming more mainstream!" No, it isn't. It's used as a tool to get laughs or to be titillating ("ooooh, look, how naughty"). If you're uncomfortable with something, what's a good way to defuse that discomfort? Make fun of it. That's what I feel is happening here.

If this is the best they can do, then personally, I would prefer it if the mainstream would leave us the hell alone and leave the spanking scenes to the experts.

What do you guys think?

On another note, thanks to everyone -- here, on FetLife, on Facebook, via email and elsewhere -- who sent me birthday wishes this week. I was really floored by all the greetings and I wish I could have bottled that blissful feeling and saved it for a sad day. All kidding, sassing and clowning aside, my heart was very full indeed.

Have a great weekend, y'all.


  1. Hello my Erica i just watched the clip i feel the same way as you do about it, i laughed a little then cringed it was a bit creepy,your right they should leave the spanking scenes to the was an honor to wish you birthday greetings and to send you presents, hopefully you will get them soon.i wouldn't have missed your birthday for the world, you are special and mean so much to me.have a great weekend with lots of spankings xoxo I LOVE YOU BIG HUGS from your naughty girl Jade xoxo

  2. I love The Office and I found the clip funny. I think The Office takes lots of really wonderful parts of life and shows how embarassing they can be when they are done all wrong (remember the dinner party Michael threw, one of a million examples). It is often about meaning well and getting it wrong. But there is real love in there amid the confusion. This reminds me of people that just don't get it and I think that is wonderful because it raises the question of people that get it right.

  3. Jade -- I hope they come today! I promise I will let you know. :-)

    Poppy -- good point; Michael is such a hapless oaf that he doesn't get much of anything right, so of course he didn't handle this situation well either. I did like the episode overall (and I loved the silly and joyous opening number!).

  4. Hi Erica, and belated happy birthday!

    I think Hollywood needs an expert spanking consultant to help them portray adult spanking in an accurate, sensitive manner. It would have to be someone who has a writing background, a great sense of humor, both personal and professional contacts in the community, and is based in the LA area. That sounds like... Hmmmm...

    Happy weekend!


  5. Bonnie -- Ha! Now there's a job I could really get behind (if you'll pardon the expression). :-)

    The first thing I'd do is show them the old Wagon Train scene with Robert Horton/Susan Oliver from start to finish (including the part where she cries in his arms) and say, "THIS is how it's done, idiots."

  6. For me M/M spanking ranks lowest for visual appeal. But given Michael's bumbling tendencies in EVERYTHING professional I give the episode a free pass. There may be a closet spanko writer who contributes to the show. I don't watch weekly but have seen several reruns. I can't recall the season but when Dwight and Angela were about to become an item she alluded to having a "very strict boyfriend." She didn't seem unhappy either.

  7. Kelly -- I dunno; I think a closeted spanko writer would avoid such a flinch-worthy scene. But who knows... the whole thing was so over the top and I'm probably taking it too seriously.

  8. Erica, I totally get what you're saying. It's why I absolutely hated "The Secretary"...she was this cutter who turned to spanking because she had low self-esteem (or that's how it was portrayed). And he was this total weirdo who avoided confrontation by literally hiding in the closet.

    Also, I ran across this article today in Esquire. It's titled "The Science of Spanking", a misnomer if I ever saw one. This is what the mainstream audience sees: a man sucking on a pacifer with other juvenile items surrounding him while getting spanked.

    Thanks, but no thanks, mainstream. Leave it to the experts. ;)

    But...I LAUGHED at the Office clip. Michael is such a bumbling, yet lovable, character. I couldn't help it.

  9. Well.. I haven't watched but a few episodes of "The Office".. kinda liked it..

    But this spanking episode turned me totally off.. first.. it was M/m.. second.. it sucked as a spanking.. Did you see how high he was smacking.. and only on one cheek for starters.. And the poor kid.. well, I felt awful for him!

    Piece de resistance:

    Wish the rest of the episode was there... Cripes! Isn't that Robert Horton on hot son-of-a-buck?!!

  10. that's .. "one hot son of a buck" (rolls eyes)

  11. erica,

    i dissagree mildly. i keep hopeing that a mainstream director will "get it right". ah, the eternal optimist.

    too bad the genre folks don't have the funding to do a good film with one or two spankings and the mainstream doesn't get it at all.

    bronco billy missed it by a hair. eastwood was furious with sondra locke ad i was watching saying get her, go for it. but...the scene was defused by a coworker..

    nice post,


  12. I'm afraid I"m one of those people who just don't get "The Office". Tried it once and didn't last long. So although I didn't think the spanking was done very well, I can't comment on the rest of the scene or how the characters reacted.

    Still, an unexpected spanking in a vanilla show is always a bonus.


  13. pink -- Rich Spankman, who was interviewed for that article, wrote about it on FetLife. Isn't that illustration the absolute worst? It wouldn't matter if the article itself were brilliant and spot-on; the picture ruins it. Makes me mad.

    I actually liked Secretary, even though I agree, the protagonists were portrayed as highly dysfunctional and that is a dreadful cliché. But I thought they also captured the joy and connection of what we do very well -- so many little details, like when she goes into the bathroom after her spanking to look at her bottom in the mirror, delighted me. I loved watching Lee blossom.

    Zelle -- yeah, it was a crappy spanking to boot! As for the Wagon Train clip, I have the entire episode on VHS. What I don't like about the online clip is they cut off some of the great buildup, and then they cut the scene before she breaks down in tears and he takes her in his arms. That part makes me swoon every time. Robert Horton... siiiiiiiiiigh...

  14. ddon -- well, hope springs eternal. But I don't think mainstream will ever get it quite right, at least not to the standards of those who know! :-)

    Hermione -- your "Office" is my "Seinfeld." Never got that show, never will. Funny how so many people would see that scene and think nothing of it, whereas for me, it was like being riveted to a train wreck!

  15. I don't watch TV, and I've never seen The Office. I'll avoid the clip, it sounds unpleasant to me.

    The Wagon Train scene you mentioned, with Susan Oliver, is really wonderful. My absolute favorite cinema swat of all.

    Sorry I missed your birthday, I was on vacation. Best belated wishes. :-)

  16. I also found the whole episode, by the way. It's great.

  17. Seinfeld was one of my all-time favourites! Secretary was a little weird for my liking, and Ron insisted we turn off the DVD player when she peed on the floor.

    To each her own, I guess!

  18. Lorraine -- thanks! And wasn't the whole episode amazing? Susan Oliver made the best brat. I loved when she yelled at her parents, "Whaddaya gonna do, SPANK me?"

    Hermione -- yeah, that scene with her refusing to leave the desk was a bit much. However, I did love how tenderly he took care of her afterward, bathing her, washing her hair... mmmm. As for Seinfeld, I tried and tried and tried to like that show, since everyone else did. But I just didn't. I'm such a contrarian sometimes.

  19. When I told Milady Springrose the general gist of your entry, Erica, she said, without knowing what you had written, "Ridicule *is* a way of folks coping with something they don't get," adding, "*and often something that's more appealing than they want to admit!*"

    Interesting addtion, eh?

    Otherwise, yeah, I think you might be a little close to the topic. It seems to me that all the Movie Spankings of Yore were played for humor and/or sexual titillation; but maybe there *was* a softer edge on that then.

    As for "The Office," I'm in the "don't get it" or "it kinda annoys me" crowd. :-D

  20. Dave -- wise woman, your friend!

    You're right; many of the old-time spankings in movies and TV were played for laughs (the aforementioned Wagon Train scene was an exception). But at least the characters were oftentimes appealing.

  21. The problem is this was a non-consensual act between adults who were not in a relationship where this was determined prior that this would be allowed to be done. That is why it should bother us, because it is totally against what most of us are about, which is safe and consensual. I know there are lots of side issues, but I believe this is the core as to why some of us were upset by this.

  22. Paul -- perhaps that is part of it, yes. But most mainstream spankings are non-consensual, if you think about it. It's the WAY it was shown that bugs me the most. I mean, I didn't get upset when Robert Horton hauled Susan Oliver over his lap, even though she was screaming and protesting.

  23. That is a good point, Erica. I don't know the Robert Horton - Susan Oliver scene, but even the "nonconsensual" scenes in some mainstream media, there was a relationship or, sometimes, some sort of flirtatious non-relationship that actually was cemeted by the spanking. I used to note in many old Westerns that the guy who spanked the gal usually wound up with the gal in the end (pun intended, but the double meaning remains). "The Office" spanking was not one of a relationship between two people who were seeking to build their relationship or to create one. I am sure there are lots of good exceptions to this observation, as I note that most of the videos made are disciplinary in nature but still, and maybe I am just a dreamer ("but I'm not the only one"), one hopes that afterwards the disciplining Dannys of the world are better friends with the disciplined Ericas of the world. (My apologies for using you and Danny as an example, if that offends anyone.)

  24. Paul -- Point well made, and taken. Oh, and no apologies necessary. I could never be offended by being associated with Danny. :-)

  25. Oh, I was planning to blog about the episode, but you did it first :-D

    I loved the episode and I loved the scene! I think it was funny, but still a bit kinky.


  26. Maria -- you can do it too! It's fun to see different perspectives. :-)

  27. Great :-D

    Nice that you don´t mind! I made a little blog about it already.

    Conversation and different opinions are always a wonderful thing ;-)


  28. I LOVE the Office and I was both shocked and surprised--but I laughed. I laughed even MORE when everyone in the office was emulating what Michael Scott did. It was HILARIOUS!

  29. Craig -- See, all that mimicry afterward just made me cringe more. Funny how things strike us differently (if you'll pardon the expression).

  30. Just so it's clear, it wasn't supposed to be an "adult spanking." Michael Scott was treating his nephew as a child. I don't know why it's being evaluated as an erotic or 'disciplinary' spanking.

  31. Anonymous -- wow, you read FAR back. I know it wasn't erotic. I still found it cringeworthy, because the nephew was most definitely NOT a child. And by my own admission above, I'm extraordinarily picky about mainstream TV spankings.