There’s a strange and dangerous dichotomy developing in the UK at the moment. It revolves around what is and is not acceptable when it comes to BDSM, D/s and related activities. The government are seeking to pass a law which would prohibit the possession of certain types of material related to BDSM. Not because said material was the result of abuse or non-consenting activity, but because it may appear to be the result of such activity or appear to depict activity that was causing harm to any of the participants.
The problem revolves around two issues; The use of the term “appears to” and the exact definition of “harm”. I’ll not go into it here as this proposed legislation and its implications are bigger than a morning post can possibly cover because of its potential impact on freedom of expression in general and specifically on those whose lifestyles will be affected.
The reason I mention it is that I was speaking to someone last night who pointed out that it’s OK for the media to use bondage/BDSM or D/s imagery and allusion in their advertising and programme content (take the Venus In Furs Dunlop ad from 1993, or Billie Pier in Belle De Jour recently) but not OK for a couple to indulge in such activity and take a few snaps of it for their own personal consumption.
For example, the image of a crop wielding female has been used in numerous ads. There’s an appeal to the image on all sorts of levels. For some it’s the thought of being dominated by the untouchable, powerful woman, for others (me included), it’s about taming a powerful spirit. Less about power exchange, more about the passion involved in, and derived from, the struggle to reach an equilibrium where the tension in a relationship amplifies the passion.
Ooh, that was a bit deep for a morning post.
The problem with advertising using such shorthand for shock effect is that it misses the subtly and interplay that lead to, and arise from, such an image. This video is an exception to that rule in that it emphasises the strangeness of the song to its own ends without really alluding to the lyrics’ and the real meaning of the track. If the advertising standards people had clicked they would surely have banned it.
On the whole the cherry picking of imagery derived from BDSM lifestyle can be just lazy and betray a total lack of understanding of the true nature of domination and submission. If you need evidence Google “Bondage Bears“.
If you want to listen to the full Track from The Velvet Underground click here.