Porn’s a funny old thing isn’t it? Amongst the oldest forms of artwork, erotica and pornography appear in various forms throughout human history but at each stage of our evolution from Palaeolithic hunter gatherers to the tech savvy hominids that we are today our views about depictions of the human body and the sexual act keep changing.
I’d like to say that we were evolving towards a mature and open acceptance of our collective sexuality, erotica and porn being part of that but things aren’t that simple. As the bible puts it:
“When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.” I Cor. xiii. 11
Bet you didn’t think I’d be quoting the bible in a piece about pornography, did you! Well it’s an appropriate quote because it’s completely wrong when it comes to the development of human societies and to the development of some individuals too. I am of the opinion that as a species we are incapable coming to a consensus that accepts varied sexualities, creeds and beliefs. From time to time enlightened pockets of society have been able to achieve this but at some point a combination of greed, avarice, stupidity, ignorance, small mindedness and plain nastiness lead to those precious flowerings of harmony being overwhelmed.
Pornography suffers the same fate as many polytheistic societies, multi-cultural enclaves and geographic federations that have existed over the millennia. But erotica and porn’s falls from grace seem to be faster and much more spectacular in nature.
The reason for this is two-fold. Free and open sexual expression can be its own worst enemy because while in its initial development a movement of level-headed but sexually exploratory people will for a cohesive group without nihilistic tendencies, sex attracts everyone. And when it comes to human society there are always a minority capable of cocking it up for the rest of us. So from thoughtful, beautiful, stimulating and arousing erotica and pornography these elements turn erotica and porn into a sordid and valueless enterprise. And in doing so they open the door to the second threat – bigotry, dogma, self-interest and stupidity.
The current state of the porn industry itself is the subject of a great deal of debate. From a huge amount of optimism only ten years ago as the Web really began to push content to every home that wanted it, and some that didn’t, we now stand at a crossroads.
Why? Well, because despite webmasters and film makers being equipped with the most sophisticated distributions channels every conceived – PC, mobile and even straight to the TVs in consumer’s living rooms – they are having increasing trouble selling their movies and images.
And the reason for that is cost.
It costs a lot of money to produce legal porn. The performers have to be properly tested, the technical staff paid, expenses paid to the whole crew, locations and studio space paid for and if you are releasing on DVD the duplication costs paid. Then if you are to legally distribute DVDs in countries like the UK you have to pay fees to gain a certification for your output. At one time the public were happy to pay but the rise of online “Tube” sites and torrent sites that facilitate the mass piracy of pornographic material it is becoming increasingly difficult to sell even the best content.
If that weren’t bad enough many consumers seem to prefer the amateur, gonzo style tsunami of grainy, shakey-camera clips pumped out for free on sites like Youtube.com and RedTube.com.
Now, when I was a teenager that would have been bloody marvellous (if computers of that era had been capable of displaying video back then LOL), I was young, horny and wanted something to masturbate to that would provide release in a few minutes. I remember fast-forwarding through grainy VHS cassettes past the seemingly unnecessary bits of what passed for plot so I could get to the fucking.
As I got older I started to appreciate the build-up and the tease, despite the ropey acting and paper-thin plots they can add to the eventual climax and give a much more satisfying experience.
With Suze and our mutual appreciation for smut we discovered DVDs and over the last decade have taken advantage of the now legal R18 hardcore smut available in the UK. The more porn we see and the more diverse our sexual tastes have become. We don’t like everything we see in porn, but it has made us ask questions of ourselves and each other. It’s prompted us to experiment, as well as providing a few laughs along the way.
But I’m worried. Worried because if people will put up with low standard pornography and erotica that’s all we will get. Instead of evolving in a more sophisticated (but no less visceral and filthy) form of sexual expression pornography may degenerate into a badly-lit, unregulated and dangerous generator of boring and increasingly abusive images and videos.
When made outside a sensibly regulated and policed adult film industry pornography will retreat into the shadows putting performers at risk of exploitation and disease. No sensible person wants that and yet some anti-porn lobbyists would be more than happy to see this happen because in their twisted minds it would vindicate their views that sex is inherently evil, especially when it’s for the purpose of pleasure!