Channel 5 made an insipid character study TV documentary entitled X-Rated Ambition focusing on Traci Lords' career leading up to her being the one, in all likelihood, to drop the bombshell to the cops that she had been underage (in the States, at least) for most of her adult film career to that point. Conveniently, at the time, she'd just turned a legitimate 18 and had set up her own adult entertainment company, thus allowing her to have a monopoly on her output after a panicked porn industry were compelled to destroy all remaining vestiges of her in magazines and on tapes. The Californian porn industry, of course, was the perfect scapegoat for reactionary rightwing forces under Ronald Reagan's presidency, even though they would themselves, ironically, likely be for the most part staunch Republicans.
Depressingly, not only Lords herself fails to appear in this documentary of the substance of an empty crisp packet, it also features a roll-call of tenuously connected minor male and female porn D-listers, some of whom had actually fucked Lords on camera. And did I mention Ron Jeremy?
Every one of them talks about how much they loved working with her, fucking her. How enthralling Tracy's peachy white skin was, her uniquely firm luscious pert needy breasts, her wanton sexual enthusiasm, her professionalism, and hence her marketability and extraordinary commercial success. And not one person has the courage to state the blindingly obvious: this was all true because she was 16, a child under US law. Not being aware of this doesn't negate the admitted basic instincts of her co-stars, nor her vast audience. It's a total state of denial, so powerful is the taboo, that men, generally, are more aroused by young girls (or boys), and whatever other fetish they happen to be into. A 16-year-old girl is a sexually powerful force.
And this leads to my main, much bigger, point. Pornography itself is about total denial, both within and outwith it. Nobody will fucking admit to saying out loud what exactly pornography is. The term is loosely bandied about in books, essays, articles, in conversations, sometimes coyly and sometimes disapprovingly, and we all have a common understanding about what we're referring to, but almost nobody will proffer an honest definition. Pornography is everwhere. What is pornography? Stop and ask yourself.
dictionary.com (and others)
refers to 'obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, esp. those having little or no artistic merit' - upon investigating the word 'obscene' we are sternly told 'offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved'
'books, magazines, films, etc. with no artistic value which describe or show sexual acts or naked people in a way that is intended to be sexually exciting but would be considered unpleasant or offensive by many people'; as an adjunct: 'hardcore is (very) detailed porn', 'softcore ... not (very) detailed', whatever the hell 'detail' means
'creative activity (writing or pictures or films etc.) of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire'
Typical legal definitions
tend to revolve around the concept of 'obscenity'; as with anything related to morality, a useful tool for applying absolutist rules to that which has no otherwise rational explanation
Webster's, 1913 edition
rather sweetly, and in keeping with the word's Greek etymology, refers to 'licentious painting or literature; especially, the painting anciently employed to decorate the walls of rooms devoted to bacchanalian orgies'
The mainstream US porn industry
employs the bullshit 'adult entertainment' euphemism in keeping with their careerist conformist principles
Andrea Dworkin's remarkable scything book Pornography was written after months' immersion watching and reading porn, and yet even she, that most nakedly brutally honest of feminists (beyond her personal taboo for the four-letter c-word that is cake), cannot bring herself to say what I've found only the redoubtable Helen Hazen achieved in the 'Pornography' chapter of her extraordinary work Endless Rapture: Rape, Romance, And The Female Imagination.
That pornography is, no more no less, material for the sole purpose of masturbation. That's all there is to it. There, I said it. Masturbation. It's no big deal.