Click – and porn drives through the kindergarten

Photo by: Mike Knell

The famous porn actor Ron Jeremy has been asked time and time again about his career choice and what damage his industry might be causing.

His answers have varied, but when it once came to the quintessential question of whether porn is the root of an ongoing unhealthy sexualisation of society, his answer was pretty clear:

“You cannot blame porn. When I was young, I used to masturbate to Gilligan’s Island.”

Today all he would need is an Internet connection – and the sexual world would be his oyster…he might even find a site for people with an oyster fetish.

Sex is there, and has always been there. It might have become clearer, but that doesn’t necessarily imply that there’s more of it.

When it comes to porn, however, the Internet has most certainly meant, there’s more of it about and the access to it has become so much easier.

There’s no need for stealing a magazine from the top shelf under the jacket for the under-aged, no shuffling self-consciously through the door marked ‘adult section’ at the second-hand book store for the young man and no social stigmata for the accountant, who used to cast worried glances over both shoulders, checking to see if anyone from the office were there, before stepping into the S/M-shop.

But what does it all mean? This revolution of ready available copulating couples at the click of a button. Can journalism help us understand it and its consequences?

I think it could, but rarely does.

Journalism about porn is prone to take on the guise of a disconnected observer, describing the industry, the directors and the actors.

But that’s like describing a play by only talking about the theatre building, the director and the actors.

Isn’t it what the play does to you as a viewer that is truly important?

Yes, a bit heavy handed on the rhetorical questions there, and so is Shalom Auslander in his otherwise masterful piece from GQ on the effect of porn.

You should read it here.

To me, what he does so well here is to take a step forward instead of a step back and show us an insight into how watching porn makes us feel – and I’m not talking about the five minute race from horny to relaxed.

I’m talking about the feelings of guilt that comes from watching it – and seeing thing you really didn’t want to.

Now some feminists would probably argue that almost all porn and/or pornographic images slash arty nudes are in some ways degrading to women. Be that as it may, they’re also nice to look at.

And yes, I admit it, I’ve looked at a few myself.

Now these images are nothing new. Cave paintings, the nudes of the Renaissance – hell, a friend of mine had pillows with pictures of Samantha Fox and Sabrina on them in the 80’s. All different but the same.

It’s stylised concepts of beauty that have been put on show. And when it comes to porn, the same has been the case, till the rise of the Internet.

The young man who shuffled into the adult section knew by looking at the covers of the magazines what he was buying. The accountant knew from the store front that this was the place to buy S/M equipment.

But on-line there isn’t this filter. One moment, you might be looking at a stylised shot of a naked woman and the next, a pop-up sends you to a Russian site for people who like to have cows defecate on them, before humping the poor animal.

No, I didn’t actually see that myself, but I wouldn’t be surprised, if it’s out there.

My point is that Internet porn doesn’t have the filter that ‘regular’ porn does. You never quite know what you’re going to see – and it might be something you wished you didn’t.

It’s a bit like thinking you’re going for a scenic drive down the highway, next to the sea. Then cut, and all of a sudden you’re behind the wheel of a Humvee doing 80 mph though a packed kindergarten.

In the movie 8mm, Joaquin Phoenix plays a down-and-out musician who works at the counter at a sex-shop.

Help tries to help the main character, played by Nicolas Cage, to find out if a missing girl who, it turns out, has actually been killed in a snuff film.

As they move into the underworld of hardcore porn, he warns Cage, saying:

“Some of what you’re going to see can’t be unseen, and when you dance with the devil, the devil don’t change. He changes you.”

And that, I think, might be a real danger of Internet porn. Not only that it’s so easily accessible or that there’s so much of it.

But that it means you see things you can’t un-see. And it might harden you so that the next time you see a car ploughing through a kindergarten, you just shrug.

It’s still to early to tell, if this is something that will change the way people use porn or our view on what’s sexually acceptable..or something else.

Or maybe we’re already there, and we’re all clicking away like this guy:

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