The Porn Pendulum

By | April 4, 2013

Hannah Shaw Sucking CockWhat is about porn that makes it an ever-present feature of my life since I entered puberty?

The answer is of course incredibly simple, sex is a fundamental human function and libido, lust, desire and the sexual urge are programmed into all of us, particularly the male of the species. Porn may not be real sex but it provides an outlet for the basest forms of our sexual desires and there can be nothing more base than the desires of a male, especially a male in their adolescent years. Without wanting to sound like some politically correct over-compensating guy chasing a feminist agenda, do we guys ever really grow up in this respect?

I mean I for one still like to watch porn and I do like to look at pictures of provocative and sexy women. So does that make me juvenile or just a normal guy who doesn’t mind admitting that they are stimulated by visual imagery?

Leaving that question to one side I’ll return to the original reason for my post and a revelation that only occurred to me when I was writing an article recently. The porn pendulum has swung one way then the other over the course of human history and finally split in two. The question is do we want to repair it?

To clarify that rather cryptic assertion let me explain what I mean.

Many years ago when the first pornography appeared it was initially honest and purely about sex. In prehistoric times and into the pre-Christian, pre-Judaism depictions of male and female human forms, nude and often copulating were unashamed and literal. While often linked with rituals such as those depicting and encouraging fertility by invoking or soliciting favours from pagan gods they were essentially a depiction of what we as humans saw around us at the time – sex, conception and birth. OK and I’m sure a certain amount of sexual pleasure was derived from them too.

There is some evidence to indicate that during the course of the development of the ancient Egyptian culture the Pharaoh would rise every morning and as a tribute to or to perhaps prove himself related to the gods would masturbate just before sunrise. His climax would either initiate, or celebrate the rising of the sun and cement him as the ruler with power over the heavens and the earth. Whether as he got older and a little less virile the Pharaoh would delegate this task to one of his priests, or if the masturbatory act was symbolic rather than literal is somewhat debateable after several thousand years. However the potency of such an image of a male figure ejaculating as the source of life is undeniable and depending on how some of the mythological texts of Egypt are translated the initial act of creation can be read as one of their gods seeding the heavens with his own ejaculation.

Many religions emphasise the cycle of life and its intrinsic bond with sex and procreation. It’s only as religion becomes more about control that we see sex, nudity and even the beauty of the human body treated as sinful and things to be hidden. Funny that considering that if you believe in a divine creator you also believe some of the stuff he/she/it devised and created is too terrible to look at or even discuss. LOL

Later as religion and its associated restriction and universal hypocrisy began to proliferate depictions of human copulation and, heaven forbid (literally), sexual pleasure were seen as sinful. So artists and the connoisseurs of sexually suggestive visuals were forced to create “art” that featured the naked human form for public and semi-public display. As religious strictures  tightened various underground pornographic depictions developed from hand drawn images, through engravings and other forms of printing, then photography, movies, video and now online.

Where many religions tried to suppress eroticism and pornography human intellect, ingenuity and technology subvert the controls and lead us to where we are today.

When films and magazines were just that, physical items that required a printing press or bulky cameras, developing labs and projection equipment the ability of the man or woman in the street to produce their own media was severely limited or non-existent. That’s where technology has altered the way we look at all sorts of media, no self-publishing is easy, free and to a greater or lesser extend unregulated.

Take porn movies, as that’s where I really started with this blog post. Studios moved from film to video as soon as the technology allowed because it decreased the cost of production, duplication and distribution. It also meant they could produce content that was easily moved to other countries and easily consumed by a rapidly increasing number of consumers with video recorders. However this was also the start of the incessant and accelerating attrition of the studio’s profits.

Porn videos could be made by virtually anyone, though at a much lower quality if all you have is a consumer quality camera, bad lighting and cheap duplication equipment. Professionally made videos can be copied too.

When DVDs and digital cameras came along the problems got worse as once in digital format there is no loss of quality when a DVD is copied.

Then came the Tube Sites. Free clips, often genuinely amateur but more often simply teasers for online downloads meant that DVD sales are falling and copying is far easier because in the arms race between those seeking to protect content to ensure revenues for the producers and the army of hackers out there eager to break the copy protection it’s the hackers who it seems will always win.

So finally I come back to the split in the pendulum of porn I was talking about. Studio produced porn will not disappear, it is undoubtedly the most watchable in terms of quality. But what’s more important is that it’s controlled and regulated. The amateur (and amateur looking) movies are increasingly popular for all sorts of reason because of their raw, voyeuristic, “it could be you fucking this girl” aura.

Both types of content will coexist, both being ripped off and exploited by pirates and home copiers for the foreseeable future. The professional studios will keep trying to find ways to fund their output as sales revenues fail to cover the cost of productions and the back room productions will churn out output too. Maybe it’s not a pendulum anymore swinging from puritanism to open acceptance of porn and erotica – maybe the whole spectrum of views on human sexuality can exist simultaneously?

So why should you worry?

One word answer – regulation.

Properly produced studio porn is regulated. If you live in the UK for example even the R18 certification has limits on what can and cannot be depicted. I’m not one for censorship but there are certain lines that should not be crossed and in a highly competitive world someone other than the studios and producers has to make sure rules are followed. But more importantly is that unregulated porn puts the performers at risk of physical injury, STIs, and plain exploitation.

So when you ask, “Why should I care about uncertified movies?” or tell yourself that copying porn movies is a “victimless” crime or complain that there aren’t as many good quality titles appearing as there used to be. Just have a good look in the mirror – even if you don’t care that the thousands of people employed by the porn movie industry could be forced out of work surely you must care that the alternative to paying for your porn is the potential for producers in countries without regulation to exploit vulnerable performers?