Saturday, December 04, 2010


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. (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.


scarlet said...

Pornography is waking up in the morning.

LJP said...

I have to say that most porno I've seen is a big disappoint. Especially as it's gay porn that would be my market, but for me it's just a waste of time and money. I could easily just get off on any picture featuring a man in uniform that wouldn't necessarily be a porn picture. And I can easily download those on my computer for free...

Horsedick said...

Great entry, you didn't loose my attention once. A thrilling and exciting read, Did i enjoy reading this? Yes. Would i recommend you read this? Yes.

Sypha said...

"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."

Kind of reminds me of some of the conversations I've had with gay friends revolving around Justin Bieber!

trevor brown said...

another interesting unspoken truth about western pornography is that consumers will wank off quite specifically to ron jeremy's fat hairy ass - i can't name a single male japanese porn "actor" - but american male pornstars are equally as famous as their female counterparts - and many consumers will purchase their smut based purely on whose penis is involved - and god help you if you call them gay!


and female cum/squirt is PISS! - without exception, porn consumers absolutely refuse to accept this

William Bennett said...

so true, Trevor - just like Bill Hicks' classic 'hairy bobbin' man-ass' routine :-)

CernunnosTrismegistus said...

Funny thing, not long ago I had an argument on Slate's message board regarding one of their movie reviewers calling *Precious* "poverty porn," ( not long after another writer there set out to define the "nuke porn" genre of literature ( I was met with people telling me stop reading into things too seriously (the classic trivializing response) and that I must not be aware that "words change meanings over time" (thanks, I wasn't aware).

No one, of course, was interested in the bizarre trend of cultural commentators referring to nearly everything as "porn" these days so long as you can make some accusation that it's exploitative on some level or, in the case the "nuke porn" article, that the material in question can be somehow compared to the structure of porn (in actuality, you just mean sexual intercourse, which, I'm sorry to say you aren't the first person to make the connection between the human sexual response cycle and the common model for dramatic structure). What's more irritating about the clueless "porn" comparisons is how most of them are always employed with a condescending "finger-wave" tone. If something is exploitative, just call it that. If one is tempted to call something "porn," please ask yourself if you would masturbate to it.

*It seems the term "poverty porn" originated in this London Times column about *Slumdog Millionaire*:

Graeme said...

I don't know, William... In America, most of the country is masturbating to 'business news' on CNBC.

WXXX said...

Pornography is a unique source of information.

Miss Kerry said...

The most amusing thing, William about porn to me is this:

reading letters in life, about women's upset at finding that their own personal snuggly toy man, has a porn stash. and even funnier, the lament- HOW CAN I MAKE HIM STOP THIS TERRIBLE THING>
obviously its now worse(!) due to the internet ( showing my age here, eh kiddies?).
But the crux of the thing, is the need to dominate, seize power over said man, in a few word, to make him 'stop masturbating to someone elses body.
What primarily seizes me is the thought that anyone, anyone can even claim ownership to someones private manipulation of their own body, without even realizing that its not about the sex ( if it was, maybe they'd wisen up ) but about wanting control.
What makes me laugh, is the whole idea that is so beyond females.
Why, oh why? I could wet myself with laughing.
This goes for looking at other women.
What are you going to do, give him saltpeter ( or modern equiv ) and blind him like a panicky racehorse with a hood in public?
HES MALE. For gods fucking sake, sometimes men cant help but look. Esp if we are in some porn stage of fashion where everyone has their tits or ass halfway hanging out, at any old public space.
Another case of denying instinctual urges that oft are no fault of the poor man. Hes just a guy. Let him be one.
You'd think that a mere glance meant he's gone off and fucked someone, and come sauntering back ready to boast about how good he was at it.
What if we asked said women, to stop comparing themselves to other women ( and even the most enlightened of us, cant always resist this one up-manship , its maybe hardwired.
or maybe stop them shopping. ( good fucking luck there. have to lobotomize most of em.)
People go on and on about how oppressed woman are ( and yes, some of them suffer real atrocities, but im talking average jane shopping mall here.)
You never hear about these daily little ploys to put men under thumb, safe and tamed. Ready to be then bored of, and sent off to pasture.
Talk about throwing the baby out with bathwater!!
Im not a porn fan, myself ( although pre internet, as a young girlie i enjoyed anais nin's more volutile erotica, and learnt much of what turned out to be lies later, on sex per se, reading dads penthouse forum secretly. ( thanks dad, you old perv. many fine moments of masturbation to be had from those magazines. )
If any man, told me, unless you stop wanking off in secret during those wierd occult things you do with all the sigils and incense in the spare room, id laugh in his face and pack. Like its anyone business how I make up the slack in spare moments, as long as Im not holding out full time on them.
Denial, its just ugly need packaged as caring.