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February 20, 2009

Is Porn the New Rock 'n' Roll?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Gallery owner, artist, activist, porn performer and porn producer Madison Young answers 20 questions.

Reading the q&a with Madison reminded me of a notion that I've been playing with recently. It's this: Perhaps porn is the new rock 'n' roll.

I have a cold today so I'm not going to try to build my usual devastatingly-convincing case. (Small joke.) Still, some comparisons are striking. If you object to my notion because you feel that porn by definition isn't an art form ... Well, it certainly took a while for rock to be recognized by mainstream society as one. Definitions sometimes change. If you cavil because you think porn is too base or animalistic ... Well, rock was experienced by mainstream society for quite a while as little but a shapeless eruption of primitive energy. Then our view of what art can offer changed.

Here's my basic reasoning. Porn has been around forever. What has changed in fairly-recent years is that 1) it has become omnipresent, 2) younger generations take its easy availability for granted, 3) a not-insignificant number of artily-inclined and talented kids (Dave Naz, Natascha Merritt, Eon McKoi, Blaise Christie, Joanna Angel) have chosen to embrace porn as their favored form of self-expression, 4) digital technology has provided tools to make porn on your own terms, as well as a way to distribute your creations.

In other words, perhaps the only reason that porn hasn't been acknowledged as a significant new art development is because we aren't yet in the habit of seeing it as such. Were there loads of people in 1954 who realized that rock was a big, culture-transforming deal?

So, my hunch: Perhaps 50 years from now, people looking back on our time -- in the unlikely event that anyone should take a break from mobile Facebooking -- will decide that Madison Young, the folks behind IShotMyself and BeautifulAgony, and Peter Acworth (the entrepreneur and mind behind were the culture-shifting art stars of 2009.

Unlikely, perhaps. But can you guarantee me that this won't happen? And a quick reminder: jazz wasn't initially seen as one of America's most glorious contributions to world culture. For decades movies were considered to be a low-rent novelty. Almost no one following movies in the '60s and '70s forsaw that the exploitation movies of the era would have the continuing influence and impact that they've proven to have. Given all this: Which of today's artists and performers would you deem likely to be remembered in 2059?

A quick attempt to head off one potential dismissive response at the pass: I'm not venturing my "porn may be the rock 'n' roll of our era" notion because I like porn, or because I feel it's a good thing, or a bad thing, or because I have a political or cultural agenda. I'm not agitating on behalf of porn. My only purpose in this posting is to take note of a little of what surrounds us, culturally speaking, and to wonder out loud about how this may play out.

Personally, in fact, I have some misgivings about porn. In fact, personally I have some misgivings about rock 'n' roll. But there rock and roll is; and there porn is. Let's try for a sec to move past how we feel about it, and ask instead: What do we make of it?



posted by Michael at February 20, 2009


This has got to be a bad joke.

Posted by: John Goes on February 20, 2009 2:27 PM

Why's that?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 20, 2009 2:45 PM


Just because it is on film or through an "artsy" media doesn't make it art. Let me go extreme here and ask if snuff films are art?

I agree that there are artistic qualities to porn, and producers have tried to form porn in an artistic mold, but just because it has followed the path of past denigrated art forms doesn't qualify it as an artform.

Let me put it this way. I consider most of Pink Floyd's work to be art. I don't consider Poison or some other hair band of the 1980s to be art. While both had commercial ambitions, the hair band era was a more masterbatory (excuse the pun) expression of music. Hair bands were the equivalent of the porn that has the usual routine of hot girl, hard guy, blowjob, missionary, doggystyle, reverse cowgirl, money shot. Hair bands, like porn, have made a cookie-cutter mold of how their craft functions. Pink Floyd on the other hand viewed music as an artform.

I have to admit I haven't seen anything by these new age pornographers, perhaps they have a more artistic way of shooting a porn.

Interesting point though.

Posted by: Chuck on February 20, 2009 2:47 PM

Does this mean I will go down as one of the great soloists in this new form of rock-and-roll?

Posted by: James on February 20, 2009 2:53 PM

Chuck -- Whether or not the "art" label should or does have to do with actual quality is one thing. Another thing is, practically speaking, how culture works. It happens every now and then that a phenomenon like (say) Dixieland comes along. From our point of view it seems self-evident that Dixieland was a major event in the history of the arts. But this "fact" wasn't at all clear to people at the time. To many of them, Dixieland seemed anything but serious, or admirable, or respectable -- anything but art. It seemed jokey, simplistic, cartoonish -- maybe a little like the way hair bands strike you. So I'm not arguing here that Madison Young is a great artist. (She may be or not. But it's not for me to decide.) I'm wondering about whether people a century from now might not look back at our era and find the porn thing as culturally significant as we now find Dixieland. Hey, another candidate: reality TV.

James -- Funny! We're all soloists now, I guess.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 20, 2009 3:11 PM

Worthwhile question, but I'm not buying it.

Porn will never be widespread, nor *universally enjoyed* by most.

I've found almost all porn to be buzzkill. It diminishes my libido. I looked at your list of Ishotmyslef,, beautifulagony. As a result, I'll pass on sex for the next 24 hours; thanks anyway. ICKY. I have discovered a tiny bit of porn that worked for me, but I suspect that others (men?) might consider it boring.

When I'm seeking libido inspiration, I find it in (real) men's attitudes, smiles, men's voices, dialogue, my own workouts, satisfaction with my body, the soundtrack to "Last of the Mohicans", the sight of my husband's legs, the statue of Venus de Milo, some nude paintings.

The analogy breaks down:
-rock/roll and dixieland are new forms of music with widespread acceptance and appreciation.
-porn is not new. What is new is that is the widespread technology availability. Some porn inspires libido for small groups, but is viscerally repulsive to other groups.

Posted by: jz on February 20, 2009 4:18 PM

Another point. Describe these words:

erotic: private, mysterious, secretive
art : widespread, universal acceptance

They are at odds with each other.

Posted by: jz on February 20, 2009 4:27 PM

Porn isn't a social experience like rock 'n' roll is, and that's a big part of what makes rock music so popular -- you can talk about your favorite groups for hours with your friends, go to concerts with zillions of other fans, go to music stores and browse around other zillions of fans with no shame, etc. You can't do any of those things when the focus is porn.

As an art form -- nope. Too functional. Not that it isn't fun to look at -- I don't penalize art for inflaming the passions. But porn doesn't have the layer of craft and innovation on top to make it art.

There's a better case to make for video games being art.

Posted by: agnostic on February 20, 2009 4:37 PM

The modern alt-porn scene is not analagous to rock and roll itself. It's too specialized to be an entire movement.

It's more analagous to the disco era.

Joanna Angel et al. are the gold chain and leisure suit of 2040.

Posted by: Martin on February 20, 2009 4:48 PM

JA writes:

"erotic: private, mysterious, secretive
art : widespread, universal acceptance

They are at odds with each other."

That's certainly been the rule so far. The thing about jazz, movies, etc, is that they change the rules. Besides, the computer universe is all about having it all your way and heightening self-pleasure. It would seem that in many ways porn is the most direct expression of computer-culture values.

Agnostic -- I'm with you on videogames as culturally significant, I'm just confused as to why in your view porn wouldn't qualify. As to whether porn is a social event ... Why does this matter? Reading poetry generally isn't a social event. Listening to music often isn't either: certainly many people have spent alot of time listening to pop music on iPods or alone in cars. Besides, porn does get social. AVN's a big deal, as are Joanna Angel's parties:


Martin -- Funny comparison. But doesn't disco qualify as a pretty important cultural moment?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 20, 2009 5:55 PM

No one other than the same people who think tattoos, body piercings and neon hair colors are art will buy into this.

Sex just isn't a visual art. It's more something you have to judge by participating.

Even supermodels look stupid during sex. This is why the depictions of sex acts in the Kama Sutra look more appropriate in a comic book than in a coffee table book.


Posted by: shiva on February 20, 2009 6:29 PM

"porn gets social. avn's a bid deal, as are Joanna angel parties."

if porn is high art *effective* then one seeks relief. If it gets social than, is this just an excuse for an orgy?

Posted by: jz on February 20, 2009 6:44 PM

also, the (mostly) gender differences preclude a universal enjoyment experience

Posted by: jz on February 20, 2009 6:55 PM

Um, no.

Porn will always be around, but it won't have the cultural impact of any music form. Granted, it did help establish VCRs and then the web to some extent, so it does have that kind of impact - some people bought the device just to see it, but then ended up doing much more.

I would equate it (weakly) to MTV's attempt to make fashion as much of a big deal as music. What a tiring phase. The only one worse was when they showed wrestling for a while. Anyway, fashion will always have an audience and a following, and everyone needs to buy clothes, but I doubt it will ever have the visceral impact that a good hit single does.

Porn is also a one-trick pony. Tits, ass, vagina, penis, money shot, all done. There goes 7 minutes. What now? Hey! Lily Allen has a new album out!

At least that's how I see it.

Posted by: yahmdallah on February 20, 2009 7:25 PM

Shiva writes "No one other than the same people who think tattoos, body piercings and neon hair colors are art will buy into this."

That's a good description of today's young culture-making set! Which would suggest that porn values and porn styles have already made quite a mark.

jz -- Good questions, it'll be interesting to see how they play out. Though I'm not sure anyone had yet made the case that rock is a "high" art either ...

Yahmdallah -- There are many who would argue that porn has *already* been a huge cultural factor. I find that hard to dispute. It's a monster business, it drives technology to one extent or another, it has led the conventional media in many respects ... The emergence of porn as a semi-mainstream phenomenon is certainly one of the biggest stories in the culture sphere in the last 20 years. So why *wouldn't* people in 100 years look back on it and say, "Hey, that was big. That was a lot more important and influential than [fill in the blank here -- grunge rock, conceptual art, whatever]."? Incidentally, they may not. But why not?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 20, 2009 7:49 PM

the more artistic porn becomes, the less porn-like it must necessarily be.

Posted by: roissy on February 20, 2009 8:45 PM

Roissy -- Another way in which porn and rock resemble each other. That's a point/argument that used to get made all the time in rock circles. When rock got too "artistic" -- too complex, shaded, pretentious, whatever -- did it stop being rock? Ah, the parallels are multiplying ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 20, 2009 10:20 PM

Porn's been around as a mass culture phenomenon for long enough now that the comparison with rock n roll won't wash. If rock's year was 1954, then porn's was (for film) 1972, the year of Deep Throat and Behind the Green Door. Those films were water-cooler conversation pieces, remember, even if not many people had seen them. Of course, not many people (adults) listened to Little Richard or Bill Haley either.

That means porn broke out of stag films and into theatres 36 years ago. Rock music reached a kind of apogee (let's say just for the sake of argument) in 1967, only 13 years after rock n roll's birth. If porn was like rock n roll, it should have reached some kind of peak and matured back in 1985.

Which brings us to the video boom. If you think porn as a theatre thing wasn't popular enough, then the video phenomenon surely was. When was that breakthrough? Early 80s...25 years ago. So if that was when porn was born, late nineties should have seen porn's Sgt Pepper and its Summer of Lust. Well, has it?

Porn has never entered the mainstream in the way rock n roll did. For all the talk of the pornification of society, you can't have discussions around the table about porn the way you could about rock music. (At least not the tables I've sat around: "Hey, people! What do you think of Anal Debutantes 33? Man, there is some first class reaming going on in that one..." Cue intense discussion of whether 33 is better than 32 or 21 or 16 or whether the whole Anal Debutantes series is a pale replica of the classic Anal Siege: Assault From the Rear).

Porn is still something people are embarrassed at admitting they consume. It's like the difference between sex and masturbation. You're caught having sex, the person interrupting is embarrassed and you're usually angry; get caught masturbating, and you're both embarrassed.

Porn is for masturbation. It'll never be an art form, popular or otherwise.

Posted by: PatrickH on February 20, 2009 10:22 PM

Porn is to art as McDonalds is to cooking; it satisfies the flesh if not the soul.

Yes and I think you're right, its a bit like Rock'n'Roll in the sense that both seem to cater toward lowbrow and uncultivated tastes, therefore it's sure to be a hit.I agree with you that it has had a huge cultural impact, especially in the way it's changed interpersonal relationships but I think you've got the relationship between porn and culture wrong.

Shiva writes "No one other than the same people who think tattoos, body piercings and neon hair colors are art will buy into this."
That's a good description of today's young culture-making set! Which would suggest that porn values and porn styles have already made quite a mark.

Porn hasn't been made cultural by choice of the trendy types, its a mainstream movement that has come about with the decline of popular religion. It's not so much an act of rebellion like Rock'n'Roll was, rather base human nature reasserting itself once strictures were removed. The cultural elites have long ago ceased leading the way with art, they merely legimitise the bovine tastes of the masses.

Is it art? No; most of it is so "gynecological" and "anatomic" in that it totally negates the psychological component of desire. Mainstream porn is all about genitals, fluids, sounds, etc and the erotic dimension is almost completely destroyed. It's like a Big Mac; when you're ravenous it does the job, but if you want to eat properly, not even in the game.

No if you want to see real artistic pornographers I suggest you go look a Klimt and Beardsley and Newton, their message was corrupt, but their style magnificent!

Posted by: slumlord on February 20, 2009 11:15 PM

Roissy nailed it. Porn is nothing more than the abdication of shame. Remove shame, then all you're looking at is biology. Either way, it cripples art from the get go. On the off chance it doesn't, the art crap then becomes nothing more than an annoying distraction to the purpose of rubbing one out.

Posted by: gunnar on February 20, 2009 11:42 PM

PatrickH -- For a few years in the '70s porn *did* get to be a genuine popular art, and the line between "art films" and "certain porn films" got very very smudgy. What's new now is digital tech. You can make your own porn as you see fit, and you can distribute it too. What's also new is the mindset of many kids, who aren't remotely taken aback by it, and some of whom look at it and think, "Cool, I could do that," and then go ahead and do it. You write "For all the talk of the pornification of society, you can't have discussions around the table about porn the way you could about rock music." We run in very different circles then! Younger people I know are pretty open and funny about their porn tastes and porn histories. Hey, a fun quote from punk rock photog Richard Kern:

"Back when I was punk rock, girls did not do this kind of stuff. Getting naked was so anti-punk rock. All that stuff has really opened up. Girls are way more open to it now. The whole thing about punk was making yourself ugly. Maybe I’m generalizing too much but I find that, especially in New York, girls are a lot more willing to take their clothes off now more than they were ten years ago."

Just curious: Have you leafed through Natacha Merritt's 2000 photo book "Digital Diaries"? It's Natacha, having sex, feeling her feelings, and photographing herself doing so. It's fascinating for a number of reasons. One of which is that it's many things art isn't supposed to be -- solipsistic, arousing ... It seemed to me to signal a real change in attitudes.

Slumlord, Gunnar -- Those are a lot of smart observations. But I think you may be taking notions about what art is, applying them to porn, and concluding "Porn isn't art." That's partly how the "art" thing works. But another part of how the art thing works is that something comes along, has a terrific impact, and then definitions of art change in order to catch up. Buster Keaton's considered by many now to be one of the great geniuses of 20th century art, but at the time he made his movies respectable society thought of him as little more than a vaudeville funny man (and vaudeville was thought of a little like we think of porn today). But he had an impact ... His work lasted and was influential ... People started seeing virtues in it ... Eventually it was taken for granted that he was one of the greats, as though that had been apparent all along. But it hadn't been. First came the work and the impact; then people adjusted their ideas. I'm suggesting that a similar process may occur where today's porn goes. I could be wrong of course. Predicting the future is for fools. But why would I be wrong?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 21, 2009 12:49 AM

Let's not forget that while you can take grandma & the children to an art museum, a symphony or the theater, there is probably no possible future in which it will be acceptable to take the family to see nude dancing. Even rock in it's early form or without the loudness is generally acceptable for an all-age audience.

However, you guys are so busy downloading your raunchy pics and finding socially sanctioned ways to discuss them, you've totally ignored the prevalence of chick porn in the form of romance/vampire novels. I read these tawdry fantasies from about age 11 to 14. There was always the secret thrill that no one in the house had any idea I was reading depictions of virgins being deflowered when I was supposed to be doing my homework. Girls especially love to read the "good" parts aloud to their friends.

It was all terribly provocative, perhaps a little homoerotic as well and had the unfortunate side effect of making it impossible to be satisfied with any of the guys we actually had a chance of dating. Perhaps we should've shared the books with our boyfriends. ; )

Note that from the woman's perspective, the real trouble with visuals is that they leave nothing to the imagination which is why I find depictions of sexual arousal in old movies much more effective than the graphic detail used today. Where's the art in porn, really? Sure you can have special effects but not much more.

If you were to approach the subject seriously, though, porn also removes any emotional aspect of sex that elevates it from a mindless, animalistic act to a demonstration of love. The focus on sex acts and sex organs has encouraged us to eradicate all emotional and moral value from sex. It's not difficult to see porn as an anti-art (which has been the general consensus to this point in time) with techniques that are now being used to debase religion by doing the same things with religious symbols that it has done with the human body. Of course not all porn is equally destructive but it can be a powerful tool. I just wish I could explain how other than that it narrows the focus of the observer. The idea of removing shame/taboos is also part of it, appealing to base emotions, removing all context, plus?

Posted by: shiva on February 21, 2009 1:40 AM

But I think you may be taking notions about what art is, applying them to porn, and concluding "Porn isn't art

Well if art is considered a form of human expression, then we can consider the subject from the view of the subject matter,message and skill in articulating that message.

Subject matter: Sex
Message: I dunno, its usually a depiction of people having some variant sexual activity. It's just a depiction of the sexual act.
Artistic skill: Zero, films are usually cheap and nasty with a strong emphasis on anatomy.

If they are art, then they're shit art.

With regard to subject matter, I think that the traditionalists were onto something. Namely, that there were certain subjects that weren't seriously worth considering as art. I mean if dwarf throwing became a popular pastime, would videos of it be considered art? That's not say that one cannot become an artistic dwarf thrower, rather the whole endeavor is vulgar activity. Likes wise is a Big Mac serious cuisine, no matter how well made?

I think that this is the dividing line between the traditionalists and the moderns. Namely the traditionalist thought that be called art, the piece in question had to have a dignified subject expressed with a certain degree of artistic skill in order to qualify. The moderns on the other hand are content to let artistic skill be sole arbiter of "art", the subject matter is not important. That's why any sort of moral garbage can be considered "artistic" provided it is expressed with a certain appropriate technical skill. Recently here in Australia we had the Bill Henson controversy. I mean are erotic depictions of underage children art? According to our trendy set, erotic depictions of 13 y.o girls are "art" provided they are done with a certain degree of technical skill i.e "artfully". Sophism is the flavour of art arbiters, no matter how vile the subject, the point is to express it with confidence.

The traditionalists thought that a person's choice in aesthetic pleasures revealed what one was like. Certain choices were proof of low culture, aesthetic corruption and mediocre intelligence. The solo lard-arse, jerking himself off to Jenna Jamison is not in same league as the man spending his afternoons listening to Bach. Porn is not art.

Posted by: slumlord on February 21, 2009 6:11 AM

What was I as a 17 year old? A cake of yeast. And it wasn't much better at 27, or even 37. The miracle is that a male, an average male, gets any thinking done with his big head until middle age, given the extent to which his little head is in charge in his youth. Anyhow, my point is that it was hard enough without ubiquitous porn to get through youth without being completely sidetracked by lust (otherwise known as genital fixation), what it must be for youth today boggles the mind.

Porn as art? An interesting question in that so much art has been erotic. But erotic isn't porn. When I stand in front of a Titian nude does my cock rise? Well, maybe if I'm that 17 year old. But the eroticism in the Titian is more diffuse than that, it's not exclusively focused on her cunt -- which is where porn comes in.

Posted by: ricpic on February 21, 2009 6:31 AM

There is something oddly out of synch with a thread discussing porn as a new form of expression potentially worthy of being considered ART on a blog that regularly attacks modernist and abstract painting, sculpture, and architecture as failing to achieve the level of aesthetic quality and seriousness required to justify that appellation.

Posted by: Chris White on February 21, 2009 9:09 AM


This is where your status as a childless man blinds you. If you had daughters, you would know precisely why you wouldn't want your daughter to be a public whore. This has nothing to do with morality. It's about the relative costs of procreative sex vs. whoring.

If you had daughters, you wouldn't be looking at Goth girls and posting pictures of them as if they were suitable sex partners for you. You'd look at those pictures and think: "My God! What is that behavior doing to those girls? I wouldn't want my daughters to destroy themselves that way." In other words, you'd see the cost. Sure, as a Manhattan liberal, you'd want your daughter to date around a bit before she got married. But, you wouldn't want your daughter to pay the price of being a public whore.

As I age, I see history as cyclical, not linear. All societies take the route we've taken. As we've gotten more rich and powerful, we've begun to deny that cost considerations apply to us. This is the philosophy of spoiled brats. Every society, as it declines into decadence and failure, begins to collapse into public whoring and a refusal to rear children. The Islamic Jihad has arrived to tell us that there is a cost to this, and that we refuse to pay attention to it upon peril of death. (In an odd way, God is speaking to us.)

The only thing new about this public outburst of whoring and decadence is that the technology has made it more widespread. In other societies, the descent into whoring and decadence was a manifestation of class consciousness. The rich practiced whoring and homosexuality to thumb their nose at the lower classes who continued to understand the economic imperative of procreative sex. The same is happening in the modern west. Whoring and homosexuality are now status symbols of the class that refuses to admit that survival issues matter.

The cost of whoring has been hidden from us, but the party is over. How much do you think it costs this society to support the outrageous sexual behavior of gay men? White society is paying the ultimate cost... suicide by refusal to procreate. My wife, Myrna, died as a result of child prostitution. That's undoubtedly the source of her cancer. I predict that our current girls in their 30s and 40s will experience an epidemic of cervical, stomach and uterine cancer in their 50s and 60s as a result of whoring. They will pay for the whoring with their lives.

Women, in the main, dislike porn because of the cost it imposes on them. Porn teaches men to expect women to deliver the sexual performance of a whore. Trouble is, a woman who performs like a whore renders herself unfit for marriage and childrearing. The reason that no man wants his daughter to be a whore (unless he intends to profit directly by selling her) is that whoring destroys a woman's economic and procreative value (unless you become Madonna, which few women do). If your wife had had children, you would be astounded at the change that would produce in her character. I've experienced that in my life. She would suddenly be a whole lot less understanding of your pecadilloes.

There is a reason that sane, healthy societies force whoring into a hidden space. When whoring comes out into the open, the costs are enormous and destructive. We aren't witnessing some great cultural advance. The Muslims will defeat us unless we concede that whoring has an enormous cost.

The party's over. We're about to rediscover the cost of public whoring and homosexuality. We'll destroy ourselves unless we accept the reality of that cost.

And, incidently, I've watched plenty of porn and sometimes enjoyed it. I'm just sensible enough to know that it is a sin, i.e., that it bears an enormous cost.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on February 21, 2009 10:04 AM

Shiva -- Semi-porn YA fiction for girls is a great topic. Sadly I don't know much about it, though I did read a couple of V.C. Andrews novels. Thought they were really good, as well as pretty hot. As to the museum question ... Well, museums have only been around, in a handful of cultures, for a few hundred years, while art has been a constant of human history. So I'm not sure that "can it be displayed in a museum" is any indicator of what's art. Parents? Well, I'm not sure I'd have wanted to take my mom to many of the punk clubs I was having a good time at circa 1978. Despite that, punk has certainly become accepted as a big moment in cultural history.

Slumlord -- Do you see the word "art" as a kind of gold medal that gets pinned on worthy works? Nothing wrong with that, of course. I take it more anthropologically. As far as I'm concerned, once people start to take a category of behavior and production as art, then it's art. (The question about whether it's good art or bad art, worthy art or destructive art, comes later ...) If pressed, I'll back off an eighth of inch and say, OK, if not art, then it's culture -- it's all culture. Porn is clearly a part of culture, pretty much by definition, and it's become a much more prominent and visible part of culture since the advent of the web. From this point of view, whether we get around to taking it as art doesn't depend on you or me, it depends on what society generally makes of it. BTW, have you checked out (for instance) and Beautiful Agony? They aren't by any means typical porn. Beautiful Agony has a conceptual-art side. (As well as an annoying SWPL side, but whatever.) And always delivers atmosphere and personality. Both -- like the Natacha Merritt book I cited in my response to PatrickH -- seem to me to signal something new in the porn sphere.

Ricpic -- Where erotic turns into porn and vice versa is always a fun question. Loads of legit artists have created loads of X-rated images ... Loads of legit writers have made some dough writing porn (in some cases I've enjoyed their porn more than their legit writings) ... '70s moviemakers were obsessed with incorporating porn elements into art films ... And certainly one of the main reasons people have gone into the arts has been that it looks like a sexier way to live a life than the usual.

Chris -- I think you're reacting mainly to Donald. My own take on all this is similar but different. Also, I'm not proposing that we consider porn "worthy," but instead asking if -- as a practical matter -- it might not happen that people looking back on our era will consider the current porn thing to be an art event on the scale of early rock. Whether or not I approve ... Who cares?

ST -- As always, that's an eloquent rant full of many good points. It's mainly about moral questions, though. Is this good, is this bad, etc. All very interesting. I have a concerned-with-morals side too, though it tends to be more concerned with eco matters. But in this posting I'm trying to ask a non-moral question: Is it possible that people in the future will consider today's porn explosion to be an art (OK, culture) event on the level of the early '50s rock explosion? That's a practical question, not a moral one. A lot of fun moral arguments flared up around early rock too. But there rock was, it wasn't going away ... And by the late '60s people were beginning to get used to thinking of rock in the early '50s as a significant art (OK culture) event. The moral questions and debates might well have been good ones, and maybe the world would be better off without rock. But rock happened, and eventually people got used to it, and they incorporated the event into their narrative of art (OK, culture). Clearly something's happening in porn these days (even if it only has to do with quantity, accessibility, and technology) ... Clearly people (especially young people) are more and more taking its presence for granted ... So: how will the porn explosion of the 2000s be portrayed in future accounts of the culture of our era? Given that young people aren't much phased by it, I'm betting that these future accounts won't be terribly moral about it. I'm also wondering if these kids (and those who'll follow) won't perhaps see more in porn than we oldies do. I think they may simply because some of them have already embraced porn as a legit form a cultural self-expression -- in other words, some of them already do see porn as a valid way to express themselves. I'd bet, in fact, that the "is porn good or bad?" argument is long over so far as many young people are concerned. For them, porn simply is. You might or might not enjoy it; you might or might not choose to do something with it.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 21, 2009 12:54 PM

Porn absolutely blazed many trails for what websites can do. Porn sites were the first to offer online transactions, they were the first to offer video compression, and the industry continues to innovate in that area.

As a cultural force, it incorporated a lot of the radical sex-positive feminism in the late-80s/early 90s, as women began to get behind the scenes, which (true or not) seemed to lessen the stigma of exploitation of the porn actresses, although in reality, women can and do exploit them as much as men.

I think it's more of a two-way street, though. Porn took on some of the attitudes or punk/feminism/DIY culture, which in turn made it more acceptable to those people. As that that underground culture went mainstream in the 90s, it took porn along with it.

Today, porn is so easily accessible that and everyone below the age of 30, male and female, has seen all types of it, that it has infiltrated mainstream culture. Think back just 20 years ago when many people, women in particular, had never seen even a minute of a porno. That's just not the case anymore. And exhibitionist sex among young people happens WAY more often and among types of people who would NEVER had done that 20 years ago and further.

So like underground culture in general, porn has been mainstreamed. That my opinion, anyway.

Posted by: JV on February 21, 2009 1:22 PM

Forgot to mention that some serious directors have begun to experiment with filming actors actually having sex on camera as part of the story. I'm thinking of Michael Winterbottom's "9 Songs" in particular. Not the greatest movie, but a nice little mood piece. Something like that could not have happened without porn having become more accepted in mainstream culture.

Btw, I'm not advocating for porn. I'd prefer it to be somewhat clandestine and forbidden. Mainstream society sucks the fun out of anything it touches, and also misunderstands how and when to engage in such activities. But still, as Michael is pointing out, there it is. It's happening, so let's understand it. Just because it may not be to your liking, doesn't make it go away.

Posted by: JV on February 21, 2009 1:35 PM

JV -- Great points. As far as I'm concerned, porn has been the real cultural avant-garde for a couple of decades now. Or a big part of it, anyway. It has really changed how people see and do things. For better or worse, of course -- that's a separate discussion!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 21, 2009 1:58 PM

Funny, NSFW flow-chart of a typical porn movie's plot:

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 21, 2009 3:30 PM

I expected that answer, Michael. No, I didn't talk morality. I talked cost. Here is another aspect of the childless society. You still see the issue of "morality" as the battle between adolescents and their parents.

So, I'll answer your questions more directly. No, porn is not and will not be an art form. It isn't rock and roll. But, then rock and roll no longer exists. Only country artists continue to play rock and roll. The rock and roll that we really remember was about boy/girl love, getting married and having babies. Once we entered the decadent phase introduced by David Bowie and Elton John, rock ceased to exist. Decadence and homosexuality killed rock.

We will continue down the road of ever more extreme decadence at our peril. The party really is over. You refuse to recognize it, but we have a nuclear gun to our heads and the new global war is already in its incipient phases, over precisely the issues you've represented by porn.

I predicted the result. Once we fully understand that the cost includes a full scale global war, we will insist on pushing the whoring back into the dark. You are incorrect in asserting that the avalanche of public whoring is a new phenomenon. Every rich and successful society in human history fell into sexual decadence as it approached failure. That is the U.S. right now. All that is different is that we have a technology that makes the dissemination of that decadence easier.

Let me try to make this plainer. When I lived in San Francisco in the 1970s, I watched gay men kill themselves by the thousands with their own sexual behavior. So, I was very surprised when all those gay activist kids started showing up in the offices in the 90s claiming that the solution to all our problems was to become gay. When I suggested that traditional repression and shaming of homosexual had worked quite well in keeping gay men from killing themselves, the young men screamed at me that I was a wretched bigot. What we should do, they said, was spend hundreds of millions of dollars for medical care so that a privileged elite of urban gays, representing a very small percentage of the populace, could live a life of extreme decadence and promiscuity. Anybody who opposed this was just the Big Bad Daddy who hated freedom and sexual expression. After all, the U.S. is extremely rich and can afford anything. Anything that is withheld is withheld deliberately out of malice.

Likewise, you are arguing that the issue is whether Big Bad Daddy disapproves or approves. That isn't what I argued, but as I said, your childlessness makes it almost impossible to comprehend what I said. You are still on the side of the adolescents in the war of rebellion against the parents. And, so you imagine that my comments fall within that framework. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

When the war with Islam escalates into a all out global war, will you be willing to pay the price in blood and treasure so that the women can whore in public and the gays can live in divine decadence? Or will you, at some point, with that nuclear gun to your head, figure that it's better to push the whoring back into the closet? Throughout history, this question has been repeatedly answered. There is nothing new here, except for the size of the sample and the technology.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on February 21, 2009 5:12 PM

Chris, let me second what Michael mentioned in his reply to your point. MB and I are pretty much in synch when it comes to architecture, urban planning and some of the impacts of Modernism. But we diverge on other matters. In other words, there is no lockstep policy hereabouts.

Unlike Michael, I think the term "art" has been watered down to the point that it has lost the meanings/connotations it had, say, a century ago. I'd like for someone to invent a term that respectfully covers fun, popular stuff like comic books, rock music, whatever, yet implies something not on par with Rembrandt and Beethoven. But I don't plan to make a crusade of it.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on February 21, 2009 5:17 PM

Michael, I agree with Shoutin' T. that porn is a threat to civilized society. I also think that you are being a bit disingenuous in the way you sidestep the issues he is trying to raise. You want to confine the subject to porn as a cultural/artistic force. Very well. Yet when ST says that one of the ways in which porn is a cultural force is that it tends to have a degrading effect upon culture, you appear to think he's changing the subject. He's not.

Talk about porn and its cultural impact necessarily raises the possibility that it might just have a disastrous cultural impact, however artful or beautifully done it might be. And of course, most of it isn't artful or beautifully done.

Porn is indeed a huge cultural force. It is everywhere, and it may in fact be a much larger and more important cultural force than rock and roll. It's quite true that the young today take it for granted. It's even possible that some day people will think it is as artistically valid as they now believe jazz to be. None of that changes the fact that the ubiquity of porn is changing the way men and women relate to each other, and in ways that I find disturbing.

Consider it this way: Roissy's frequent commenter David Alexander appears to be a nice young man in many ways, but society can't afford to have too many David Alexanders in it, i.e. young men who think porn (and the masturbation that is its intended end) is better than sex. That's what ST is trying to tell you, or part of it; I think he's only mistaken in focussing exclusively on its costs for women, and not bringing up its costs and consequences for men. Anyway, that's the kind of issue he has with porn, and I believe that he's right in saying that, in a sense, it isn't a moral issue at all.

Posted by: aliasclio on February 21, 2009 9:18 PM

"You are still on the side of the adolescents in the war of rebellion against the parents." -ST

You certainly bring some class to this blog.

MBs agit porn obsession reminds us that you have to grow old but you never have to grow up.

"I'd like for someone to invent a term that respectfully covers fun, popular stuff like comic books, rock music, whatever, yet implies something not on par with Rembrandt and Beethoven. " - DP

Couldn't the the term "kitsch" refer to porn as much as lava lamps? I prefer the term "smut" myself but we musn't be judgmental.

As for the internet expanding the influence of porn on our culture, I disagree. It's true that 20 years or so ago when I was an undergrad porn wasn't that readily available unless you went to certain video stores but lo and behold there was a subset of the student population actively engaged in a range of sexual activity from bisexuality to orgies who were very eager to find new recruits. We all know who to call and which parties to attend if we wanted to be "experienced" but accessibility didn't increase the likelihood we'd experiment with alternative sex.

This subculture also tended to major in the fine arts which attracts creative, unconventional, iconoclastic, rebellious, thrill-seeking types. I bet if MB attempted a more scientific assessment of internet porn stars/porn producers he'd discover that this is the same subculture always responsible for activities that are variously described as avant-garde, subversive and even decadent. They also don't tend to have as many children as the norms, too busy expanding their horizons and such for parenthood.

I am a little curious about MBs defense of porn. Could it be that he's a sort of aging hippie fighting his version of the good fight or is he a repressed type who pursued an accounting career to please his parents all the while dreaming of being a painter?

Posted by: shiva on February 21, 2009 10:21 PM

"As for the internet expanding the influence of porn on our culture, I disagree."

You couldn't be more wrong on that. Instant and free access to EVERY type of porn is absolutely new and has had a large impact on its acceptance into pop culture. It also has, as Clio mentions, an impact on how mean and women interact More explicitly, it's influenced the mechanics of everyday sex. Case in point: how many boomers here have had anal sex? Now, how many Gen X and younger folks? I think you'd find quite the generation gap on that one. Same with bisexuality/threesomes. That is straight up an influence of the mainstreaming of porn. Going even younger, things I find absolutely crass and disgusting (I'm thinking specifically of the spitting phenomenon) are totally commonplace in younger people's sex lives, from what I can tell. Again, porn.

"This subculture also tended to major in the fine arts which attracts creative, unconventional, iconoclastic, rebellious, thrill-seeking types. I bet if MB attempted a more scientific assessment of internet porn stars/porn producers he'd discover that this is the same subculture always responsible for activities that are variously described as avant-garde, subversive and even decadent."

Couldn't agree more, but what is new is that this subculture has gone mainstream, or at least the trappings of the subculture have. It's been that way since the mid-90s. And since porn was part of that subculture...

Posted by: JV on February 21, 2009 11:16 PM

A propos news from America's best news source:


Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 22, 2009 12:03 AM

With all due respect, MB, I think you spend too much time looking at porn. Is it too late for you to turn back to music?

Posted by: Sister Wolf on February 22, 2009 12:15 AM

ST writes "You still see the issue of "morality" as the battle between adolescents and their parents." Wha'? Where are you getting that? BTW, I don't necessarily disagree with your apocalyptic points and concerns, though I suspect that I don't worry as much as you do about the Islamic thing. It's not that your concerns aren't interesting in their own right. But what do they have to do with this posting? The posting is an observation followed by a musing. Observation: "Hey, there's a lot of porn around these days! Plus it seems to be of a different nature than it has traditionally been!" Musing: "What are people in the future likely to make of this?" As far as apocalyptic reactions to porn go, you're much more eloquent than I am. I pretty much stick to making observations about culture, and then musing about 'em. BTW, noticing something and opening up a discussion about it isn't the same as endorsing it.

Clio -- "I agree with Shoutin' T. that porn is a threat to civilized society." Interesting to learn, if not much to do with the topic of the posting, but oh well.

Shiva -- "I am a little curious about MBs defense of porn." I'm neither defending nor attacking it. FWIW, I don't think that my opinion about porn is terribly interesting or important, though I enjoy learning about other people's opinions about it. What I largely do at this blog is take note of cultural phenomena and muse out loud about 'em. Could be wrong, but I feel I'm pretty good at that and have a little something to contribute if/when I stick to that. Porn? Well, you'd have to be a pretty blind culture-observer not to register that porn, and porn values, are all over the place these days. I do have a small agenda where the sex stuff I enjoy linking to goes. It's that Americans are often pretty dense and literal about sex. They don't seem to realize that such a thing as a culture of sex exists -- a literature, an art, a discussion about it, etc. And eroticism as a cultural experience can be 1) a very interesting thing, akin to art, akin to religion, and 2) very interesting and rewarding to enter into and experience. We have hunger, which we've whipped up into cuisine. We have sight, which we've whipped up into the visual arts. We have hearing, which we've whipped up into music. We have an inborn taste for anecdotes, gossip and stories, which we've whipped up into literature. We enjoy moving, which we've whipped up into dance. And we have a sex urge, which we've whipped up into visual pleasures, performance pleasures, lovemaking techniques ... Doesn't get yakked about much in the U.S. for some reason. So it's fun to drag this kind of material out in front of people from time to time. Seems to me that a decent first step in developing an appreciation of the art and culture of eroticism is to take note of its presence and manifestations around us.

JV -- Nicely put.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 22, 2009 12:40 AM

As far as I'm concerned, once people start to take a category of behavior and production as art, then it's art.

Who are the people? Respectfully, I think your not on the wavelength of the average Joe. A lot of what you consider art, he probably does not. Just look at architecture, what the the public likes and what the arty architectural community likes are miles apart. Joe public will easily recognise that the Mona Lisa is art, and Jackson Pollock rubbish, despite the bleating of the "arts establishment" Or how about Jack Vettriano? Here is an exerpt from his Wikipaedia entry:

"Although his work is generally dismissed by art critics as being vulgar and devoid of imagination, he is one of the most commercially successful living artists. His original paintings now regularly fetch six figure prices.."

I think the only people who think porn art are a small group of arty types who opinions are at odds with there rest of humanity.

Do you see the word "art" as a kind of gold medal that gets pinned on worthy works?

Not so much worthy works as much as worthy subjects and perhaps even worthy techniques. Lets say for example that an "artist" decides to make a political statement by defecating "artistically" on a canvas. Is that art? There is plenty of trendy types who would say yes. It is a coarse and degrading way of making a statement and seems anti-civilisational. In fact I think that is what is the core problem of art these days, its practice is a repudiation of the civilisational ideals of Western Culture. Self restraint is the mark of the civilised man and civilised culture. In such men and cultures there are boundaries that are not crossed.

The embracement of porn typifies this. What was once a interest of rough men and a shameful interest to educated men, is now embraced as a subject and medium of expression. It's as if walking around and swearing all the time is an advancement of civilisation. It's a triumph of the low-brow embraced last by the avant-gaurde And yes it is a modern cultural phenomena, when good culture is banished bad culture takes it's place.

I had a brief look at Kink and have seen Beautiful Agony before. What to say? B Agony is better than the typical internet porn but after a while it becomes sooo repetitive. Its artistic merit? Zero. I mean the other version of beautiful agony I envisage is filming the expression on peoples faces when they use their bowels. Imagine feeding a person a high fibre diet and not letting them use their bowels for the whole day, then filming the person while he drops his load. I imagine that you would see the same type of beatific expression that you see on beautiful agony. Each video would be a unique experience,but it still wouldn't be art.

Posted by: slumlord on February 22, 2009 4:12 AM

Michael and Donald – You seem eager to have it both ways. Michael continually sets forth examples of aesthetic expression, in this case Porn, that raise the root question ... is it Art? Donald frequently enough offers the work of illustrators as examples of Art underappreciated or ignored by the aesthetic gatekeepers in the museums and academies. The popularity of the works offered is pointed to as evidence of the aesthetic value placed on these objects by "regular folks" (as opposed to the Art Elite) to bolster the argument that their popularity should equate with their serious consideration as Art. Doesn't this logically lead to applying the same argument to Porn? Waffling when too many comments dismiss the argument by emphasizing the label of Culture as opposed to Art is a fairly esoteric distinction. Do these terms have clearly different meanings beyond the confines of graduate level Philosophy seminars?

Porn is a form of cultural expression very popular with broad segments of society. Porn both reflects and comments upon contemporary society and mores. Porn therefore deserves more serious and respectful consideration as valid, popular, aesthetic cultural expression. How different is this than saying Thomas Kincade creates very popular images that resonate with a broad segment of society and is therefore deserving of more serious and respectful consideration as Art?

Has Porn in the Internet era become ubiquitous? Yes. Does Porn's ubiquity lead to ever more transgressive variations in its content in its efforts to reach the elusive goal of stimulating a sexual response in increasingly jaded viewers? No doubt. Does this have implications socially, morally, and politically that deserve more serious consideration than any of the aesthetic or cultural implications raised? This is one of those rare occasions where my favorite dueling partner, The Shouting One, and I agree that the aesthetic questions that arise when viewing Porn as a cultural phenomena akin to Rock 'n' Roll pale in comparison with the moral and socio-political ones ... even if we have different views of what the implications of those might be.

A cloistered celibate monk might well find Cole Porter's glimpse of stocking, shocking, but today, goodness knows, anything goes. When a ten year old boy, glancing through the print media rack at the grocery store while Mom checks out, can leaf through a tabloid showing Britney's bald pubes (if somewhat digitally blurred) what does that do to his view of women, propriety, and sex? Isn't this more important than whatever aesthetic impact it might have?

Posted by: Chris White on February 22, 2009 9:22 AM

Clio: I agree with Shoutin' T. that porn is a threat to civilized society.

MvB: Interesting to learn, if not much to do with the topic of the posting, but oh well.

But the very comment of Shouting T's that Clio agreed with was somehow germane enough to your post that you bothered responding to it to with something more than a disdainfully flipped verbal bird. How does that work?

Posted by: PatrickH on February 22, 2009 9:56 AM

Michael, I suspect you didn't really read what I said in my comment, because the comment was devoted to explaining exactly why what ST said was relevant. I believe I dealt with all the issues you raise regarding porn, as a matter of fact, including "what do we make of it?"

I repeat: you cannot talk about porn as a cultural force without devoting some time to talking about it as a negative cultural force. If you disagree that it does or could have a negative cultural impact, why? And if you have some misgivings, as you say, then why not explain them? I'd be interested to hear what your misgivings are, for a change.

Posted by: aliasclio on February 22, 2009 10:15 AM

"Well, you'd have to be a pretty blind culture-observer not to register that porn, and porn values, are all over the place these days."

In my lifetime, I've observed eroticism in pop culture transitioning from David Bowie to Prince and Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Magazines such as Glamour have been discussing sex techniques for decades. Periodically, someone will write a book about how to please your man/woman/self. ESO was a popular book a few years back, wasn't it? At home lingerie parties have caused some controversy (sex toys are sold as well) in recent years. Also, as a complement to your interest in Bollywood, there is the art of tantra brought to us by those same Indian devils. I observed all this without entering a topless bar or viewing much porn. You don't have to be a connoisseur of porn to recognize erotic elements of your culture.

You focus on porn almost exclusively, MB, and necessarily a population of outliers whose extreme behavior is probably evidence of childhood trauma. If you are serious, stop visiting the nude dancers for further research and plug back into mainstream culture. Demonstrate how normal people's sex lives are being influenced by porn. Are more people experimenting with S&M, using sex toys (ben wa balls, what's not to like)? Has it become more socially acceptable to visit prostitutes? What about those wife swapping parties from the 70s, have they made a comeback? Also, have you noticed how much of what has become mainstream erotica entered American culture in the 70s

"And we have a sex urge, which we've whipped up into visual pleasures, performance pleasures, lovemaking techniques ... Doesn't get yakked about much in the U.S. for some reason."

Ha! That's probably b/c Americans are doing the things they like to do rather than ruminating about it. Where's your article "Is Pole Dancing the New Belly Dancing", btw, surely you didn't fail to notice either trend and how they manifested the eroticism of two different generations, MB. It's ok that you are a porn fiend. We won't judge you too harshly for it but there's no need to start belittling American's in an effort to hide your addiction now, is there? The first step to solving the problem is admitting you've got one.

Posted by: shiva on February 22, 2009 11:16 AM

MB: I do have a small agenda where the sex stuff I enjoy linking to goes. It's that Americans are often pretty dense and literal about sex.

Michael Blowhard, all-American. Nothing quite exemplifies this stereotypical American quality better than the continued obtuseness and puerility with which you approach this subject. Always the same, and always ending with the doltish insinuation that contrary concerns about porn are somehow indicative of insensibility to the erotic.

As for the "point of the post", which you keep insisting everyone is missing - well, I don't see anybody missing anything. People keep gliding "off-topic" because the set topic bumps up against the limits of "interesting" pretty rapidly. But I'm nothing if not boring and pedantic, so I'll bite:

So what precisely is the analogy here?. Rock'n'roll:music::porn:x? What's x? Art? Porn has always been around, art has always been around. Rock'n'roll hasn't always been around. Rock'n'roll:music::x:porn? So "x" must stand for some emerging genre among a variety of creative genres within porn? So, what is this "x", and what are a, b, c, y, and z? "Atmospherics"? A "conceptual" side? Not seeing it. Music is also a human constant, and people have always been creating new forms of it - in this example, rock'n'roll in the 20th century. You can probably find proto-porn on the walls of Lascaux and Altamira, but porn is still just porn - it remains a limited, ritualistic exercise that hasn't thrown up unpredictable new forms. Increased availability and access due to new technology might open up a form to input from more creative talent, but do not in themselves constitute something new under the sun. Nobody in 1900 could have have demonstrated for you what popular music in 1960 would sound like. It grew from earlier forms, but it was new, not predictable. Both the content of porn, and its proliferation due to advances in communications technology? Predictable.

I think you're confusing the issue with your emphasis on "but x was once considered raunchy or low-class, and now it's respectable and admired". The question of whether or why new forms bubble up from the lower orders is interesting; that a form's origins are base or high-falutin' is not all that relevant to your question. Also not sure why you keep belaboring the widespread use and acceptance, and DIY aspects, of porn as somehow germane to the musical analogy, if indeed we're talking about origin, spread, and widespread acceptance specifically of new forms of art. If we're just talking about "hey, this stuff people do disseminates culturally and socially just like that other stuff that people did, did" - well, then all the stuff in the world is the new rock'n'roll, because people used not to regard all that stuff as socially acceptable, and now they do. Not a terribly productive analogy.

If all this porn is just a refinement of our natural drives just like painting, or dancing, or cuisine, then you should do something interesting, like defend the analogy, not just assert it - and with something a bit more thought-provoking than your tired wheeze about how teddibly unsophisticated Americans, except for you, are about sex. (Variants of that seem to be a perennial feature of porn in themselves. I remember when looking through my siblings' porn stashes as an adolescent how there always seemed to be some old goat writing about how X or Y's off-the-rack porn productions were so "sophisticated", "witty", "refined" "European", of course, and, invariably, "playful". The adjectives were as predictable as the porn. I didn't notice "joyful" getting a workout until I went to college, where the gay groups were always relentlessly "joyful".) At any rate, all the forms to which you're analogizing porn are themselves subject to decay through preciosity on the one hand and coarsening, de-skilling, and plain old schlock-ization through popularization on the other. Maybe porn is the new Thomas Kincaide. If you don't want to argue about what porn's having permeated "the cultural avant-garde" means - creative renewal/erotic refinement or anti-erotic senescence and decadence - then you've pretty much run out of interesting things to say on the subject. (Pretending that ST and Clio don't "get" your obvious points must have limited amusement value, after all.)

P.S.: C'mon, did you really think those gloopy '70s "arty" pornos were some tentative exploration of exciting new artistic territory? Would you like fries with your Gentleman's Latte, Michael?

JV: So like underground culture in general, porn has been mainstreamed. That my opinion, anyway.

That's everybody's opinion, JV. Now say something interesting about it.

Posted by: Moira Breen on February 22, 2009 11:31 AM

Michael, I'll make a stab at what I think makes this discussion so uncomfortable for you.

I don't think you are dealing with humans through the traditional religious vantage point... that we are sinners.

I'm not expressing my ideas from the vantage point of a saint who has never committed the sins that I am discussing. I've committed all of them.

Does that mean that I would never commit those sins again? Depends. Maybe, maybe not.

You've become a bit of a cheerleader for erotica and porn, so you are naturally backed into a corner. When you get backed into this corner, particularly in conversations that involve sex, you quickly find yourself advocating one of two polar opposites: absolute abandon or complete repression.

Consider Myrna. She paid with several decades of her life for her enslavement as a child prostitute. Was she filled with hatred and a desire for revenge as a result of this? The answer is no. She understood the extent of the damage, but she also understood that the experience had transformed her in ways that few people can imagine. Her spiritual side was developed in precisely the way that you will hear torture victims talk about. Extreme suffering leads to deeper spiritual development. Also, Myrna was hardened and sharpened in ways that few Americans can imagine.

When I saw "Slumdog Millionaire," I thought of Myrna throughout the film. The addiction to action, the incredible sharpening of the wits and the fullness of a life among people struggling for survival... Myrna was an exemplar of these virtues. She was on fire in every aspect of her life... especially sexually. Most Americans are dead meat compared to Myrna as she lived.

The issues I've raised cause you to feel guilty. Guilt is part of the human response to sexuality for good reason. It's designed to make us stop for a moment to consider how our actions affect other people. I do not agree with the modern notion that guilt is an unfortunate, oppressive notion that we just ought to jettison. It's impossible, anyway.

That does not mean that guilt will always determine what our actions will be. It's a lot more complex than that.

So, I'll leave you with this irony. Myrna was something of a student of porn. She watched it with an incredibly sharp eye. She knew precisely why and how the women involved arrived at that moment on the set. She knew why the men were there, too. She would grade the actions of the women minutely. She knew that porn was a porthole into another world... the world of war. I will repeat for you. Porn is a peephole into a world that has broken down into total war.

One of our commentors said that women, prior to the advent of internet porn, seldom saw porn. Try explaining that to Japanese and Filipino women who lived through World War II. Their lives became an everyday litany of porn.

Ponder that.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on February 22, 2009 11:33 AM

Slumlord -- We're probably turning in circles, but in case we aren't ... I think you're talking about "should"s. Art should be this, and if it isn't then that's a shame, etc. Which is cool, of course. But there's also a practical side to the art definition. Art by and large is what people agree is art. In 1954, no one thought rock and roll was art. Today most people do. Has justice been done? Maybe, maybe not -- but as of 2009 the question has become kind of irrelevant, because most people agree, without even thinking about it, that rock is art. So I'm wondering, Might a similar process occur where porn is concerned? "Should" (let alone "should not") has nothing to do with it.

Chris -- I'm puzzled by your determination to squish Donald and me into one entity. Whassup with that? BTW, I think the 10 year old boy you cite isn't contenting himself with occasional stolen glimpses at newsstands. I suspect that he's using at least a few of the thousands of hours he's spending at his computer to do, let's call it, some exploratory websurfing. How's this likely to affect his concepts of art? And his view of porn?

PatrickH -- You'll be receiving your award for Most Chivalrous at the ceremony later this evening.

Clio -- "Michael, I suspect you didn't really read what I said in my comment." On the other hand, maybe I did read what you said in your comment and responded to it deliberately. "I repeat: you cannot talk about porn as a cultural force without devoting some time to talking about it as a negative cultural force." You can't hear the scoldy, headmistressy tone you're using in that sentence? That's weird, because you're normally such an astute reader. Look, if your contribution to a discussion is going to be to try to dictate the terms of that discussion, then maybe you shouldn't be surprised if/when the person who has proposed the discussion does what he can to undercut your attempt. Hey, I don't want the discussion to veer off in the direction of "Porn: a good cultural force or a bad one?" For one thing, I find it tedious, not because it isn't worthy and important but because I've been through it a zillion times. It isn't fresh any longer. For another, examples of that particular debate aren't exactly in short supply around the web. For a third: I want the discussion here to take on a different question, namely the one I proposed: "Is porn the new rock 'n' roll?" I think it's a fresh and provocative topic. I also think it's quite likely that, if things continue going the way they are, people in 25 or 50 years will be completely blase about porn, and may even consider it to be a valid cultural form, much as many people are currently getting used to thinking of video and computer games as the equal of movies. Would this be a good thing or a bad thing? That's another discussion.

On the third hand, if most people here really want to debate "Porn: a good or a bad cultural force?", I'm happy to shrug, mutter "boring," and then get out of the way and let it roll ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 22, 2009 11:38 AM

Michael, I know that you lived at one time in France. You are grasping at straws in an attempt to describe the difference between French and American attitudes toward sexuality. It's really easy.

The French have recently lived through a war on their territory. That's the whole story. French women know what it is to have no choice but to whore and make the best of it. French men know what it is to forgive their women for whoring out of necessity, and to continue to sleep with them, and love them, anyway.

That's the entire explanation. You can't transpose that experience to the U.S. Well, you can, but only by suffering through war on U.S. soil. Remember that I said that porn is a peephole into the world at war? American society is bored and listless, devoid of action and passion. And, so, people dream of war. War is a release.

Surprising, isn't it? Thank Myrna for this little gem of wisdom. You should have met her. She was brilliant beyond anything you have ever dreamed.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on February 22, 2009 12:17 PM

I would like to echo Agnostic and Roissy's points. The problem with introducing artistic elements into porn is that is makes it less functional as porn. Any artistic elements will tend to distract you from getting off. As Nabokov wrote in his preface to Lolita, in pornography no thought or complex emotion must be allowed to distract the reader/viewer from inflaming their lust.

As for rock music at it's best, it can indeed be quite complex and sophisticated, without losing it's raw edge. The craft that has gone into the best Nirvana or Beatles songs rivals that of classical music. Porn, in contrast, seems to have gone along for quite a while without producing any classics of the like. I may be wrong, but . . .

Posted by: Thursday on February 22, 2009 12:33 PM

Whee, we're all hitting the computer at the same hour today ...

Shiva -- "If you are serious ..." Where do I claim to be serious? "... stop visiting the nude dancers ..." Haven't been to a nude or topless place in around 30 years. "Plug back into mainstream culture ..." I regularly write about ads, publishing, business, DVDs, politics, buildings, and travel. That's a lot of "mainstream." And if you think that porn and porn values haven't themselves become a part of mainstream experience, please review JV's comment above. "Demonstrate how normal people's sex lives are being influenced by porn." I'd happily read a study about that. But why would you ask an amateur blogger to conduct such a study? And anyway sex strikes me as one of those topics -- like food and politics -- on which we're all entitled to make observations and have opinions. Incidentally, I'm no more of a porn addict than I am a politics addict. There they are, and they're both big parts of contemporary life, for better or worse. You're gonna stumble across them whether you want to or not. It seems a little kooky not to find them vaguely interesting and to wonder what to make of them.

Moira -- That's a lot of impressively needling writing. But what's your point? That today's situation vis a vis porn isn't worth taking note of? If so, then that's a really peculiar contention. But maybe I'm not following. Care to clarify? Many of your smaller arguments -- for example, "Increased availability and access due to new technology might open up a form to input from more creative talent, but do not in themselves constitute something new under the sun" -- seem completely (and uncharacteristically) off-base to me. Phonograph records? Movable type? Movies? If we're going to shrug off developments like those as unworthy of notice, we aren't going to be left with a lot to say about culture.

ST - Your concerns about me (on the defensive, guilty, etc) are appreciated, tks, but unnecessary. I enjoy putting up these postings and I enjoy contending with the discussions that ensue. (Though the "is it good or bad?" side of them does bore me ...) I think the reason you go into brawling mode when I propose topics like this may have to do with a misapprehension. You seem to think that I'm a cheerleader for porn. I'm not. Taking note -- let alone linking -- doesn't automatically constitute endorsement.

But, hmm, you've got me wondering about what I might be said to be cheerleading for here ...

OK, I've got it. I'm cheerleading for a more nuanced appreciation of the erotic dimension of life. Moira seems to think, unless I'm reading her wrong, that American culture is fine with eroticism, and handles it well. I disagree with her totally there. My own opinion is that we tend to be pretty clueless and literal about it. (About many things, really.) We return to sex obsessively, almost angrily, and never get from it what we're hoping for. We also tend to exploit it and to use it to goad ourselves on. We dodge around it, we can't leave it alone, we can't let it be, and we have no gift for entering into it. Whatever it is that "finding the erotic frequency" may mean, we aren't very good at it. (Apologies for using the all-inclusive "we" here -- it makes making these points a whole lot easier. Many exceptions realistically allowed for, of course.)

So I like to imagine that I'm doing my small thing to promote a more contemplative attitude towards eroticism. In our current lives, porn-on-the-web is one of the main ways (certainly one of the main public ways) that eroticism manifests itself. So I use it as a starting point.

Saying that porn-on-the-web is plentiful if not overwhelming may seem obvious, and of course it is. But porn on the web also represents a big cultural shift -- and not just because the web is relatively new. In the old days, eroticism was generally a little hidden. Now it's thrust on us. In the old days, eroticism was a big part of the appeal of movies. These days mainstream movies have pretty much forsaken eroticism, except of the raunchy/jokey sort. Book-writing and book publishing used to be pretty sexy fields. They aren't any longer. These are developments that are worth noting, no?

Anyway, it seems to me that a decent first step for someone who's promoting a more contemplative and nuanced appreciation of the erotic dimension to take is to call attention to the ways that eroticism manifests itself in our lives as we're currently living them, and to open up a few discussions about these manifestations, and our experiences of and with them. Hence these postings.

I'm a little surprised by the number of people who shift instantly into "morality" mode. I'd have thought those arguments have been well-hashed-over elsewhere, and often. Besides, given that any such battle that we have here is going to have zilch impact on the world, why bother with it? And why not set the "morality" thing aside for a few minutes and explore a few other angles on the topic? But so be it.

Which isn't to minimize the role that pure mischief plays in putting up these postings either. But "mischief" and "eroticism" aren't exactly strangers to each other, are they? So I suppose it might also be said that with these postings (and commentsfests) I'm trying to embody a little of what I'm arguing for. I could be down with that.

Thursday -- Yeah. On the other hand, plenty of people have used Nabokov's writing as jerk-off material -- as porn -- and I've certainly read porn novels that displayed craft and aesthetic qualities. The waters do get muddy here and there.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 22, 2009 12:39 PM

It's pretty obvious that most people commenting have such a strong and negative opinion of porn that any discussion of it other than "porn is bad" is impossible. That's fine, by the way, and for what it's worth, I'm of the opinion that the world is worse off for having hardcore porn in it. But it has permeated the culture in, what I think anyway, are new and interesting ways in the past 10 years, and any discussion around the hows of that is a valid and important one.

Moira, not sure what you found so tedious in my previous comment. Had you heard one too many times how porn had adopted the punk aesthetic and how once punk went mainstream in the 90s, it sort of brought porn along with it? Hmm, OK. I'm certainly not the first person in the world to bring it up, but it hadn't been said in this thread yet, and I believe that aspect of it is crucial to understanding porn's move into the mainstream.

A common criticism in the comments is that despite the new technologies that make distributing and access to porn ubiquitous, there really isn't anything new in the porn itself, so why even discuss it. I think that's a bit disingenuous, a way of avoiding the subject by denying its importance. For one thing, there absolutely are new things going on in porn, most of them disturbing in my opinion. Much of this is a direct result of new technologies like digital video cameras and editing software. Anybody can produce a fairly sophisticated looking movie now, and they are.

The most popular new variation seems to involve picking up "random" women on the street, then offering them money until they "consent" to performing sex acts on camera. Then laughing at them as them send them on their way. It's pretty awful, but important. Why? Well, these women obviously aren't random, they're pros. But boy, it sure does look like they could be just any average girl. And that's the gist of these movies, that any girl can (and should) be made to have sex on camera if given money and coerced. And so young people run with this assumption. In the past, porn and those who acted in it were separate, other things. No longer. That is important, in my opinion.

So, punk's DIY aestheitc, that anyone can do it, seeped into porn, and that seeped right back into mainstream culture. Now, anyone can be a porn star, or more specifically, anyone can be one and still have a normal life. That's the perception, anyway.

Posted by: JV on February 22, 2009 1:01 PM

Anyway, it seems to me that a decent first step someone who's promoting a more contemplative and nuanced appreciation of the erotic dimension of life might take is to call occasional attention to the ways that eroticism manifests itself in our lives as we're currently living them, and to open up a few discussions about these manifestations, and our experiences of and with them. Hence these postings.

There is nothing new in the world of human sexuality. We've been around for, what, 10,000 years? Everything that can be said or done has been said and done.

I don't have a clue why you think that ordinary Americans do not think about sexuality in a nuanced and contemplative way. If we are so naive and unsophisticated, then why does the American songbook dominate the entire world? Why has the American romantic vision, as expressed in the words of Cole Porter, Louis Armstrong, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, etc., become the standard vision of the entire world?

I'll go back to my previous statement, and I invite you to think about this for a few moments before you respond. Here's the conversation that generations of French women had to have with their boyfriend or husband after the wars on their own soil:

Boyfriend: "Were you a whore?"

Girl: "Yes."

Boyfriend: "Did you enjoy it?"

Girl: "I hated it. But I screwed the goddamned Germans every way imagineable. I screwed them one at a time. I screwed them ten at a time. And when we went out I smiled and tried to be the best companion I could be."

Boyfriend: "Did you come?"

Girl: "I came like a fucking freight train. I hated myself for it, but my body betrayed me."

Boyfriend: "Does that mean that there's no way in hell that I can satisfy you?"

This is the difference, Michael. You are barking entirely up the wrong tree. American women haven't been forced to whore, whether or not they want to. American men haven't had to have this conversation with their women. This is the "sophistication" that you find missing in the U.S.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on February 22, 2009 1:43 PM

ST -- Since the French line in eroticism and erotic appreciation goes back many centuries, I'm baffled by your "Sorrow and the Pity" angle. Your hero Henry Miller made many of the complaints about America and sex that I do, and he wound up in Paris well before WWII.

I agree that the popular-culture-world of Sinatra, Cary Grant, etc displayed a lot of erotic sophistication. But that world's gone now. Which is a shift. Which contradicts your claim that in the world of erotic appreciation and erotic experience nothing ever changes. Hmmm. In any case, what did that older, more sophisticated American popular-culture world have that our current one is missing? A good topic.

Hey, I've been watching a DVD of some drive-in exploitation movies from the '70s. Fascinating in many ways. Here are a few. 1) The guys, even the ones presented as studs, don't have bulked-up chests, six-packs, or big shoulders. 2) Even the cheesiest, most t&a of the movies don't focus much on the girls' asses. (And the girls' asses are mostly flat and untoned.) 3) The only g-string on display in the entire 8 movies isn't worn by a "college coed" or "dynamic career woman" character, it's worn by a "stripper" character.

These things represent changes of some sort, no? Of many sorts, really ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 22, 2009 1:58 PM

Michael – I am not mistaking you for Donald or squishing you together. I was trying to do you the courtesy of going along with your exercise by accepting, "Porn = RnR, Discuss" at face value. Rather than just say, "No." and be done with it, I found parallels between your fascination with the variety and vitality of cultural expressions of, by, and for the masses, in this case porn, that you find deserving of deeper discussion and Donald's occasional series attacking the cultural elite for dismissing too quickly the taste of the masses, especially in paintings.

You initiate a discussion on porn, but with the claim that the focus should be directed toward porn's aesthetic or "cultural" attributes. Given the emotional, moral, political, gender, and legal issues that porn carries this is a clever conceit ... or conceitedly clever I'm still unclear which, but I went along with it.

It doesn't really take much cultural examination to see that, when images of women in swimsuits with less fabric than a necktie can be shown in polite mixed company, the nature of porn will become, as ST notes, a window on war.

And, yes, I understood that my fictional ten year old might be ripping files from his downloaded porn stash for his homeboys at Lincoln Elementary.

Ultimately porn will always be mutating and transforming itself to accommodate the changes in society at large. It will also remain a form targeted toward individuals in private rather than groups in public. The enjoyment of porn will remain primarily clandestine. That is precisely its allure. Sharing it too widely, or sharing whatever one's own interest and tastes in it are, absolutely diminishes its effectiveness, give or take the exception of an exhibitionistic kink or two.

Rock is a group activity, tribal if you will. When you can point to a burgeoning social phenomenon where groups of scene makers are gathering in hip venues to enjoy the new release of an up and coming (sorry, I couldn't resist) pornographer, get back to us with the Porn=Rock idea, until then you haven't made a compelling case for the equation.

Posted by: Chris White on February 22, 2009 3:48 PM

Henry Miller's writing as an old man is seldom read, but I heartily recommend: "Book of Friends" and "My Bike and Other Friends."

Toward the end of his life, Miller admitted that the problems that he suffered throughout his life were, in fact, the result of his own ignorance, and not some societal problem. The most attractive thing about Miller was that he understood that his life was a journey from ignorance to self-awareness. He made no attempt to disguise his stupidity and brute clumsiness as a young man. He was breathtakingly honest. In his final years, he was especially chagrined by his failures as a father, and sought to find some restitution.

How are my comments about Miller at odds with his work? I told you what was different about French society. I've been there, too. What is missing in the U.S. is the fatalism that is the result of absolute defeat and humiliation. You're history is wrong. France was founded as a conquered colony of Rome, and has been invaded and conquered repeatedly through its history. And, what did Henry go to France for, except to luxuriate in French whores? He lived solely to drink, write and visit the whores. He was completely charmed by their devotion to their profession and their matter of fact method of doing business.

Miller was the son of German immigrants. As he became aware in his later years, it was the cold, drudging and loveless family life of German culture that he was struggling against. And who conquered and occupied France... but those very same Germans.

I've always identified quite closely with Miller, not in some celebratory sense, but because I come from the same cold, loveless German background on my mother's side. In other words, I share in many ways his journey from ignorance to some sort of happiness. I don't attribute what's wrong to America. My German family is a nightmare. Nazi-ism didn't come out of nowhere. It emerged from the insane wretchedness of the German family.

The Philippines is to me what France was to Miller. Not surprisingly, German men flood into the Philippines in search of a Filipina wife. They are seeking relief from the harshness and coldness of German society. German women are the bane of existence. In their postwar incarnation, they have rebelled completely against marriage, family and childrearing. No sensible man wants them.

The same fatalism is at work in the Philippines, which has been invaded and conquered hundreds of times. What is missing here in the U.S. is the humility and fatalism that comes with licking the boots of a conquering army. That is the difference. It is a very real difference. You find the same phenomenon in Poland, where I've also spent some time.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on February 22, 2009 3:51 PM

Well, Michael, I'll accept the Most Chivalrous Award in the spirit in which it was handed out...enjoy the sensation of the award (I imagine it being a big, crooked bronze dildo) being, uh, returned to you in reciprocal fashion.

You still have not bothered addressing the point that porn has been around long enough for its acceptance, if acceptance it be, to have occurred already. Why say that another 25 or 50 years will accomplish what more than 30 years hasn't already? Rock n roll may have been seen as rude, then as art, but it sure didn't take decades for that to happen. You sound like those defenders of atonal music still waiting for Webern's prediction that mailmen will be whistling atonal "tunes" sometime in the near future, which future was predicted some 70 years ago or so.

Ain't gonna happen.

Oh, and Madison Young is an entrepreneur who sells "queer" porn to straight men and makes a good buck doing it. Her shtick is utterly commercial bullshit. Empowerment of women? Queer activism? Sure. Pardon me for being unchivalrous, however, when I say that she's just a whore marketing her body and those of her girls to men for jerk off material.

Femina potens? More like femina meretrix. These things go way back, no matter how digital they are, and whores (and their madams) have always been practitioners of DIY.

Posted by: PatrickH on February 22, 2009 4:07 PM

Chris -- "You initiate a discussion on porn, but with the claim that the focus should be directed toward porn's aesthetic or 'cultural' attributes." Close but not quite: I'm hoping people can focus on a practical question -- namely on the question of whether today's porn might some day be seen in something like the way we see rock 'n' roll from 1954. "Cultural attributes" got nothing to do with it. Time passes, attitudes change. Where are they likely to wind up? Well, at least for a while.

I think your points about private and social are good ones, but I think you're overlooking the fact that the digital life is poking skillions of holes in that traditional distinction. Facebook anyone? Partypix of coeds lip-locking? They're everywhere. And influenced by porn.

"When you can point to a burgeoning social phenomenon where groups of scene makers are gathering in hip venues to enjoy the new release of an up and coming (sorry, I couldn't resist) pornographer ..." I did point to one: Joanna Angel. Suicide Girls is another example. They've toured rock clubs. The neo-burlesque scene in NYC is one of the liveliest art scenes I'm aware of.

I don't know what life is like up in Maine but in NYC kids are pretty open about growing up with porn, having preferences in porn, having friends who've done porn ... Everyone has taken digital sexpix of each other ... Etc etc. These things aren't secrets. And there's another generation coming up behind the kids in their mid-20s who I sometimes hang out with who are even more open about all this.

ST -- That's a nice passage about German families. I've got one strand of German in my background and it corresponds pretty exactly to what you describe: Cold, harsh, ponderous, unforgiving, melodramatic, and unappealing. And I think you're really onto something where fatalism goes. A certain amount of fatalism in a culture often seems to enhance its sexiness. Italy vs. Germany, for example. America's "anything's possible, always!" ethos is great in some ways but often seems to leave a lot of people feeling frantic and a little disconnected. But maybe in 20 years I'll look at this comment and think, Hmmm, maybe I was just talking about myself. Hard to know.

PatrickH -- Rhythmic sex-enhancing dance music was around for thousands of years before rock 'n' roll broke out. And soooooo ....? Anyway, the art/sex/porn thing in fact did reach a kind of peak in the '70s with people like Bertolucci, Ferreri, Kubrick, Radley Metzger. Then, for whatever reason, the culture kind of closed up (may have been a good or a bad thing, beats me), and porn and the mainstream split again. (Though weren't some of those '80s movies pretty sexy too?) As JV explains, what's new now is that anyone can now access porn easily, and can even make their own porn and distribute it -- and the culture can't close up over it. It's out there for good. And, needless to say, we have a whole lot of kids coming along who have grown up with easy access to porn and mucho facility with digital tools.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 22, 2009 4:41 PM

I haven't read the entire thread yet, but regarding museums: an article about the pornographic art of Pompeii can be read here - they call it The Secret Museum, "Gabinetto Segretto" - and a BBC radio spot about it can be listened to here. Pictures of the good stuff can be found in this book.

Posted by: Brian on February 22, 2009 4:49 PM

That's a lot of impressively needling writing. But what's your point? That today's situation vis a vis porn isn't worth taking note of? If so, then that's a really peculiar contention. But maybe I'm not following. Care to clarify?

"That today's situation vis a vis porn isn't worth taking note of?" Huh? No, nothing I wrote remotely implies any such view. Could I clarify? Hmmm. Probably not, as I think my original comment was really quite clear and straightforward, and I must admit I don't feel equal to providing any manner of clarifying remedy in the face of the virtuoso display of obtuseness you're putting on here today.

Maybe I should put the needling at the end, not the beginning, of the comment. It seems to throw a spanner into your neurons. Or maybe it has nothing to do with the needling. JV, like yourself, seems to be having real difficulty grasping that nobody is disputing either the ubiquity of porn or the social and cultural importance of that ubiquity. (OK, maybe Shiva, but Shiva is only one chicken here.) Maybe the topic makes some people go all squirrely in the head. I seem to recall engaging with you on this topic in the past and being equally bemused by the disjoint between the content of people's comments and that of your responses.

True, I am needling you (in addition to providing perfectly straightforward and pertinent responses to your original query), because I do find your self-labeling as a sophisticate of the erotic, well, funny.

OK, I've got it. I'm cheerleading for a more nuanced appreciation of the erotic dimension of life. Moira seems to think, unless I'm reading her wrong, that American culture is fine with eroticism, and handles it well. I disagree with her totally there. My own opinion is that we tend to be pretty clueless and literal about it.

Uh, no, Michael. I said that you discussed the "erotic dimension of life" in precisely the "un-nuanced" way that is stereotypically attributed to Americans. You have met the rube and he is you. I mean, I'm engaging in some plain, direct ribbing here, so your obdurate misinterpretations must have some other source than the muddiness of what I wrote.

Many of your smaller arguments -- for example, "Increased availability and access due to new technology might open up a form to input from more creative talent, but do not in themselves constitute something new under the sun" -- seem completely (and uncharacteristically) off-base to me. Phonograph records? Movable type? Movies? If we're going to shrug off developments like those as unworthy of notice, we aren't going to be left with a lot to say about culture.

I don't understand your confusion about the distinction between content and transmission. In what way do the statements "there is no real original content in porn" and "the pornographic saturation that was effected by changes in technology is culturally important" contradict one another?

Anyway, it seems to me that a decent first step someone who's promoting a more contemplative and nuanced appreciation of the erotic dimension of life might take is to call occasional attention to the ways that eroticism manifests itself in our lives as we're currently living them, and to open up a few discussions about these manifestations, and our experiences of and with them. Hence these postings.

Now, I read when I can, and I may have missed any number of posts on this subject, but as far as I've seen, your "promoting a more contemplative and nuanced appreciation of the erotic dimension of life" by "call[ing] attention to the ways that eroticism manifests itself in our lives as we're currently living them" consists entirely of linking to your basic internet porn-hound stuff. Nothing objectionable in that per se, I just think it's a bit comical that someone with apparently so restricted an understanding of the "erotic dimension of life" believes he's some kind of conduit of wisdom and enlightenment on the topic.

I'm a little surprised by the number of people who shift instantly into "morality" mode.

Why would that surprise you in the least? Porn is about sex and for most human beings sex has an ineluctable moral dimension.

And why not set the "morality" thing aside for a few minutes and explore a few other angles on the topic?

I assume because most of your interlocutors don't find those other angles as interesting as you do. So they talk about those aspects that do interest them.

Btw, as long as I'm needling: there are certain adjectives that should never be used as self-descriptors. "Mischievous" is one of them. Being mischievous is OK. But no grown man should be poncing about informing others that he's "mischievous". Good God, man, next thing you know you'll be telling us that you're "kicky", or "sassy".

Posted by: Moira Breen on February 22, 2009 4:50 PM

Brian -- Nice links, tks. And, speaking of museums, there's always New York's Museum of Sex.

Moira -- Ah, so it really was just a lot of raillery and unease. I suspected as much.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 22, 2009 5:09 PM

Neo-burlesque is NOT porn, whatever similarities they may share. I already granted the "exhibitionist" exception that proves the rule. The purpose of porn is arousal, either alone or in very intimate company. It is not a public entertainment event that serves to create a sense of inclusion like that which Rock provides.

As the parent of a Millenial I interact with plenty of youngsters. Maybe as a hip NYC dude without kids your interaction with them is dramatically different, but I doubt it. I've known twenty-sumpin'coffee shop barristas who appear in the local neo-burlesque Christmas Show. These same barristas willingly chat about music and art and politics amongst themselves and with customers. I don't recall porn tastes ever becoming a topic of discussion.

Posted by: Chris White on February 22, 2009 5:11 PM

Chris -- "Neo-burlesque is NOT porn, whatever similarities they may share." Another example of how definitions change. Neoburlesque performers (and Suicide Girls) often put as much on display as the girls in Playboy up to the '70s did ... And plenty of people considered Playboy to be porn. I suspect that your other wannabe hard-and-fast definitions will prove to have a little give in 'em too. Is a movie watched at home on DVD no longer a movie? Because, y'know, movies were originally meant to be social events ... ? By the way, "arousal" was a big part of the point of early rock. So, arousal is apparently OK as a part of an art thing, even a big part of an art thing (think Bo Diddley) ... And the rock arousal-thing can occur in a public setting ... Or enjoyed at home in privacy ... Hmmm.

By the way, since I've nowhere tried to argue that porn IS rock, let's not get hung up on quibbling over one-to-one comparisons. I'm asking the question: might people in the future look back on today's porn thang and conclude that it was an art and/or culture event comparable to early rock?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 22, 2009 5:33 PM

What is missing here in the U.S. is the humility and fatalism that comes with licking the boots of a conquering army.

Southerners know a thing or two about that. Civil War through Reconstruction, through Little Rock, through the anti-Confederate flag kulturkampfs of today.

Posted by: PA on February 22, 2009 6:26 PM

Moira, we're not just pointing out that "hey, porn is everywhere!" We're also discussing HOW it got to be that way. That's a valid discussion. Period. Your attempts to undermine its importance merely illuminates your queasiness with the subject matter in general. And that's fine. Doesn't change the fact that these things should be discussed, if only to understand them.

I'm a parent of three boys, one of them a teenager. I'm also a web designer who spends most of his life online. I see what's out there, I know the ease of access, the cavalier attitude young kids have towards the most extreme, disgusting porn imaginable. That attitude is borne out of that access. It worries me as a parent how that will affect the sex lives and the roles between the sexes of that generation.

To keep sticking your fingers in your ears and singing "lalalala, nothing has changed, I will say porn isn't interesting because I'm uncomfortable with the subject" does no good, IMO.

Posted by: JV on February 22, 2009 7:28 PM

Will people a hundred years from now view today's porn as art? I don't think so, mostly because people with a hard-on have a difficult time caring about art. You have to let your thing go down if you want to produce or enjoy art. Otherwise you just want to come.

But I think they will be pretty nostalgic about it, the way we may feel (I do) in relation to pornographic pictures from the early XXth century. They will probably be nostalgic even for things we now feel are horrible, like porn stars' hairdos and nails and plastic high-heels. They will preserve these movies and images and study it with care.

Posted by: Dino on February 22, 2009 8:56 PM

Southerners know a thing or two about that. Civil War through Reconstruction, through Little Rock, through the anti-Confederate flag kulturkampfs of today.

True. That's why the South is the soul of America. All good things in American music come from the South, from "Georgia" to "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" to "Sweet Home Alabama." Not to mention Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, The Allman Brothers, Dr. John and George Jones.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on February 22, 2009 9:14 PM

"I see what's out there, I know the ease of access, the cavalier attitude young kids have towards the most extreme, disgusting porn imaginable." - JV

At least you're concerned. MBs attitude is more, "Well the kiddos are gonna grow up to be whores and gigolos on account of the internet. Nothing we can do about it."

"Uh, no, Michael. I said that you discussed the "erotic dimension of life" in precisely the "un-nuanced" way that is stereotypically attributed to Americans. You have met the rube and he is you. "

Moira, there are many gems in that post but this is one of my favorites.

ST, I won't copy your comments about German women. You should be ashamed of yourself preferring a woman so desperate she will lick your boots to one who could buy you boots or give you the boot depending on your just desserts. I suspected MB was a weasel all along but your being one too has left me so disillusioned I don't think I can go on.

Posted by: shiva on February 22, 2009 9:29 PM

I would like to salute both shiva and Moira for their efforts in this comment thread. But why bother to debate someone who asserts that porn and politics are "big parts of contemporary life, for better or worse?" I'm living life, and porn plays no role in it at all. It's like me telling MB that shoe-shopping websites are a "big part of contemporary life", extrapolating that from my own obsession with shoes.

Regarding Lolita: People masturbate to it?!? Surely not. It's a love story, after all.

Posted by: Sister Wolf on February 23, 2009 2:29 AM

shiva, next time I'm planning on getting laid, I'll be sure to call you so that you can decide whether the girl is up to your specs.

Are you on call?

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on February 23, 2009 7:25 AM

"Dave Naz, Natascha Merritt, Eon McKoi, Blaise Christie, Joanna Angel... Madison Young... Peter Acworth"

I have no idea who any of these people are. In contrast, I think almost any teenager or young person in 1957, even if he disdained rock and roll and his rock-and-roll-loving peers, would have an acquaintance with the names Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, etc., and even the stodgiest adult knew of Elvis. Elvis and later the Beatles drew giant audiences on Ed Sullivan.

I guess I do know a few ex-porn-stars (Ron Jeremy, Jenna Jameson) by name, but while porn may be "omnipresent" in people's private times, it is not something that people sit around discussing the way they discuss any other art. I would put video games ahead of porn (and I don't really care for video games) as a new art that actually pervades people's lives instead of a few hours of it.

Posted by: James K. on February 23, 2009 9:43 AM

1. My only purpose in this posting is to take note of a little of what surrounds us, culturally speaking, and to wonder out loud about how this may play out.

2. Let's try for a sec to move past how we feel about it, and ask instead: What do we make of it?

3. By the way, since I've nowhere tried to argue that porn IS rock, let's not get hung up on quibbling over one-to-one comparisons. I'm asking the question: might people in the future look back on today's porn thang and conclude that it was an art and/or culture event comparable to early rock?

You've made at least three attempts to ask your question in both the post and the comments, yet for the life of me I don't see how it's possible to answer it without going into those aspects of its cultural impact that don't interest you. You also aren't especially interested in asking whether porn will morph into a fine art, or be regarded as one, so far as I can tell. You've declared that to be irrelevant, so that's another aspect of the issue that's off the table. You aren't asking about the techniques of porn-making. What's left?

From your reference to the way some private porn-makers keep porn diaries that they post in public venues on the internet, and other similar phenomena, I have to conclude that you're most interested in the way porn shapes these people's sensibilities, and what it means to them. Does it occur to you that you're asking the wrong people? Most of your readers are probably over 35; a good many, I suspect, are over 50. We didn't grow up with porn in the same way as today's youth have. By the time the stuff became ubiquitous, our attitudes towards our bodies and sexuality had already been formed. If I'm right about the kind of answers you want to hear, then you may just have to accept that we really can't answer your questions.

p.s. ST and Moira were a good deal sharper with you than I was, yet you were rather sharper with me than with them. Why? Begging Moira's pardon, was I really more school-marmy than she was?

Posted by: aliasclio on February 23, 2009 10:21 AM

"shiva, next time I'm planning on getting laid, I'll be sure to call you so that you can decide whether the girl is up to your specs." - ST

Hmmm. Will I have to make this assessment on a weekly basis, nightly?

In an effort to simulate STs dating life, the rest of us could modernize that old Mystery Date game to include the likes of:

Typhoid Teresa
Herpes Hannah
Gold digging Grace
Psycho-ex bf Sally

Do you really dare contemplate before you copulate? ; )

Posted by: shiva on February 23, 2009 1:38 PM

Pornography as it is today, and will be tomorrow, is unlike anything the world has ever seen. Ubiquitous, high-grade, stuff. It is far more powerful and influential than any kind of art. It is more like a universal drug, delivered through the eyes, that is stronger than an opiate, that suddenly is available virtually for free to everybody. The nearest equivalent may be the birth control pill, which demolished one civilization and built a radically new one in its place in the space of two generations. As new technologies are increasingly used to deliver stronger and more personally tailored porn, it is going to have a massive, society-changing impact on relations between men and women.

Saying porn is like rock'n'roll is like saying that the capacity to cause thermonuclear explosions will have an impact on popular culture. Well, sure. But that misses all the interesting stuff, or most of it.

I say the foregoing without moralizing, though I do have a moral view on it. I say it merely as an observation of the facts as I see them. We are at the very beginning of a massively significant process.

If a woman without a man is a fish without a bicycle, a man without a woman will in increasingly many cases ... a man who uses porn without the hassle of an actual human female. Porn itself will fragment from a totally passive experience. if you are a not particularly attractive person, you will interact and have sex "as" an attractive avatar in virtual reality, to pick one obvious application. Will that be "porn"? The word itself will be passe soon.

On this subject, Ray Kurzweil is probably more right than people want to give him credit for.

Posted by: Lexington Green on February 23, 2009 4:40 PM

Thank you, Lexington Green.

As I thought about it today, Michael, I realized that this was the answer.

Porn is, in fact, more like drug use than rock and roll.

And, I'm not saying that from a sanctimonious point of view. As I said, I've committed all possible sins.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on February 23, 2009 8:32 PM

Gee, gone for a day and everyone's so testy!

Is porn the new Rock'n'Roll? No, unlike porn which has been with man since recorded history, Rock'n'Roll was a new form of expression within the tradition of music. Porn on the other hand an expression of what was traditionally repressed. Will future generations think of it as the New Rock'n'Roll. I doubt it. I think they will see it a cultural phenomena that was always there but gained prominence with the practical abandonment of Religion. It's not a new thing, it's an old thing that reared its' head in a moral vacuum. But I also think its reared its head as a result of the hedonism our society promotes in place of the transcendent that has been abandoned. Unhappy people are looking for happiness in novel hedonistic experiences be that travel, relationships and "personal development". Gangbangs, bukkake, threesomes etc are for many simple people a path to momentary happiness,something to escape the present dreariness of their lives and hence the interest. It's a similar phenomena with regard to "retail therapy", in one instance its shopping to make you happy, in the other sexual pleasure.

Is it an art form? Well I've made my arguments before but I would add this observation. If we consider porn as a legitimate form of artistic expression, then the more "artistic' the deception of the act, the less carnal and more erotic the act becomes. It appears what makes a sexual act erotic is the degree of control we have over its expression. Even the S+M crowd modify the basic sexual act through all sorts of rituals and costumes to make the act more pleasurable.

As to its mainstreaming and uptake by the young. Look, young men don't need much prompting to have sex, more importantly they are prone to doing impulsive and stupid things no wonder they're getting into it. The young sexualised girls that I see, seem to be into it not for the sex but for the social acceptance. Religion is soooo uncool, chastity a social disease. The internet on the other hand is the perfect medium for it's dissemination. Whereas before, someone you knew might see you coming out of an adult book store, no one really knows what you're doing on the internet. The internet allows you to indulge in the vice privately, something you couldn't do before. I imagine that the there are many conservative Christians checking out the porn sites who would have never dared to to go to an adult bookshop out of fear of being recognised.

Finally Michael, I do think you have a point with regard to American attitudes to sex. The same attitude is present here in Australia which makes me thing its more an Anglo/Protestant cultural attitude to sex and sexuality. A religious Protestant is more likely to be a sexual aesthete, a lapsed one a sexual glutton. The mean seems to escape them.

Posted by: slumlord on February 23, 2009 9:58 PM

Lex - I wonder how that Kurzweilian development evolves amid economic instability. In the days when I was an undiscriminating consumer of sci-fi, I was always struck by the way characters placed on dingy planets with really rat-bag, feudal, (completely closed) economic systems still had all this snappy technology. How was all the wealth to maintain that high-tech generated? Or, contrarywise, there were outwardly bright, gleaming high-tech planetary societies, where everybody spent most of their time accessing all that swank wank infrastructure, with occasional breaks for high-end intellectual work. Hopelessly nerdy, I kept wondering, "How do they pay for all that leisured high-tech masturbation? Who's producing? They never tell us about the slave-monkey mines, do they?" But anyway, we all know what metal fever can do to an economy!

Clio - Begging Moira's pardon, was I really more school-marmy than she was?

You were not the least bit school-marmy, Clio. It is used because you are stung at being labeled a school-marm, whereas I would just whip my hair into a bun, grab a ruler, and start rapping knuckles. You don't make enough allowance for basic human piss-antry in your evaluations.

JV - Comprehension errors and self-righteous indignation, always a winning combination! But I am sincerely pleased that you are a responsible father who is aware of "what's out there...the ease of access...the cavalier attitude young kids have towards the most extreme, disgusting porn imaginable", that "[t]hat attitude is borne out of that access", and that [i]t worries [you] as a parent how that will affect the sex lives and the roles between the sexes of that generation".

Posted by: Moira Breen on February 24, 2009 9:25 AM

Porn as a gum, that's it! Drugs provide users with predictable, mechanically controllable self-gratification, a quick hit of neurotransmitter reward that would otherwise have to be gained by doing something. Drugs become addictive (I speak from personal experience here) because they give the reward without the effort, and do so in a way that is (at least at first) under the control of the user.

Porn is therefore almost identical to drug use in its appeal. Porn is a masturbation support that provides the same predictable, mechanically controllable self-gratification as a drug. The consequences of its ubiquity will be the consequences of widespread drug use. And more, since it substitutes for real sexual interaction between men and those pesky unpredictable mechanically uncontrollable women.

We don't wonder whether coke or heroin or dope or ecstasy equal art--we know what they're about, why people buy them. And sell them.

Same with porn. Never mind about rock n roll, or "art" or erotic appreciation. It's about habitual predictable mechanical self-gratification...and it has its defenders, just as drugs do.

Posted by: PatrickH on February 24, 2009 10:42 AM

Moira, I agree with you. I limited my statement about how correct I think Kurzweil to: "on this subject." I think that the "Singularity" is not going to happen. Instead we will just have more stuff faster and faster. That will be disruptive enough. I fear that the physical infrastructure of power generating capacity and transmission lines are going to rot out due to environmentalism and nimbyism, and also give way to attacks from global guerillas long before there will be an mass downloading of brains to cyberspace. Who is going to risk having their data corrupted by am electrical brown out -- if the data is the person him- or herself? You are also correct that if enough people spend enough of their time addicted to the many new ultra-powerful distractions that will become available, then civilization will collapse.

I recall a friend who was involved with high tech developments told me something over ten years ago. I recall it verbatim. He said "pretty soon, any nerdy guy will be able to plug a little wire into his head, and as far as he will be able to tell, he will be having sex with Cindy Crawford. That is going to make smoking crack look as about as addictive as Sanka." Absolutely.

The absolute all-pervasiveness of this increasingly powerful suite of drug-like sex substitutes is going to have a massively disruptive effect on society. I do not think the impact will be a good one.

Again, I make the foregoing negative predictions solely in terms of consequences, without regard to the morality of the conduct itself, which as a Roman Catholic, I consider to be sinful and hence bad and harmful for the user, without regard to consequences.

The struggle against these addictions is going to be very challenging and difficult, and require prayer, sacrifice and self-denial. And, of course, that struggle has already started.

Posted by: Lexington Green on February 24, 2009 11:58 AM

I take it Lex, that you think Vinge's non-singularity scenario is more plausible: "a glut of technological riches, never properly absorbed". It depends, I think, on whether Kurzweil's (IMO hopelessly "optimistic") predictions about the reverse-engineering of the human brain will ever be achieved, let alone on the schedule he envisages.

As for wirehead-ism, it's clear that those who can resist that addictive possibility will rule the world. Which means that societies that manage to keep its prevalence below a certain threshold will overpower, and easily, those that don't.

Which then raises the possibility of a massive anti-porn/drug/wirehead crackdown in our future, a crackdown justified by the rather pressing requirement of our society to survive.

Wonder what all the (amateur) kids and (professional) Madison Youngs who've posted vids of themselves getting it on are going to say when the New Blue Meanies come for them in the night?

"I was just being mischevious!" "I was empowering women!"

We'll see how that cuts it with the Big Bad Po-lice Man of the future.

Posted by: PatrickH on February 24, 2009 1:01 PM

I have not read Vinge. His statement sounds more accurate than what Kurzweil seems to think will happen.

As to any "crackdown", if the government tries to do it, it will be even more futile than the ongoing, and pointlessly destructive, War on Drugs.

People need to be free to make their own decisions and to suffer or enjoy the consequences, as both a moral and a practical matter.

If government prohibition of drugs cannot work, a government crackdown on downstream pornographic products, or similar things, will be even more futile.

James Fitzjames Stephen:

"... there is a sphere, none the less real because it is impossible to define its limits, within which law and public opinion are intruders likely to do more harm than good. To try to regulate the internal affairs of a family, the relations of love or friendship, or many other things of the same sort, by law or by the coercion of public opinion, is like trying to pull an eyelash out of a man’s eye with a pair of tongs. They may put out the eye, but they will never get hold of the eyelash."

People's private lives have public consequences. But that is no reason for the state to get involved unless someone is being unambiguously hurt or coerced or otherwise wronged. Private consensual behavior has proven to be virtually unregulable.

What people need most of all is to be realistic about the power of these products. They are not toys and they are not art.

Being realistic will help people deal with them, and deal with the consequences of their use.

Posted by: Lexington Green on February 24, 2009 2:47 PM

Lex, I'm surprised you haven't read Vinge. He's the guy who more or less coined the whole idea of the Singularity.

I don't sense any interest in you for pursuing this discussion, but I have to say that your point about the inability to regulate private consensual behaviour fails to grasp the nub of modern porn--the pornification of society. The pornification of society is precisely a public phenomenon, and porn is the essence of making what was private both public and ubiquitous.

The public pervasiveness of porn could easily be massively reduced by a government that had the will (and broad enough public support) to fine the cr*p out of any television outlet that dared to show it, any store that sold it, and even any domestic ISP that allowed it. Sure, the judiciary could interfere, but the judiciary follows the election returns, and broad-based public support for removing porn from public awareness would be very effective, and quickly.

This goes double for wireheading. If wireheading is as addictive as it seems to have the potential to be, it will produce such pathologies so quickly, cost society so much (far more than alcohol and drugs combined), that there would emerge with a speed and ferocity that would shock libertarians, a consensus both social and legal, on the need to make every effort to eradicate the activity.

Would it work completely? Of course not. But it would remove the activity from the public domain, and social stigma, an even more powerful form of social control, would do much of the rest.

The War on Drugs is unnecessary as a form of control for middle-class whites. Social stigma has made drug use beyond certain limits and at certain times of life unacceptable in mainstream white society. But the social stigma is precisely the reason for the support among middle class whites for unnecessary regulation of drug use. Just makes the consensus even harder to mess with.

But as I say, I don't get the impression you're interested in this discussion. Still, porn is a drug, and ain't that the truth.

P.S. I am opposed to regulating porn. I like porn. I just think it's a commercial product for guys to jack off to. Not art. Not personal expression. And definitely not rock n roll.

Posted by: PatrickH on February 24, 2009 5:24 PM

If anyone's still paying attention or cares ... MBlowhard got slammed by a sadistic cold/flu and for 36 hours has been unable to face a glowing computer screen. Back on duty, delivering postings for visitors to dump on and pick apart, in a day or two.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 24, 2009 7:03 PM

I don't doubt that if there were a major public outcry, that draconian measures could have an impact, particularly on the public display of pornographic images. "Time, place and manner" regulations may have some effectiveness. Recapturing the public sphere and making the use of pornography more of a strictly private activity would, in my view, be good

But restoring the Austro-Hungarian Empire would also, in my view, be good. No lie. This only shows that what I think would be good is no guide to anything. Most of what I think would be good simply aint gonna happen, ever.

I see no particularly serious public demand to regulate let alone outlaw pornography, for better or for worse.

Until there is some such political groundswell, things will chug along as they have been, at an accelerating rate ... toward wireheads, etc.

Even if there were some political outcry, I don't think illegalizing the stuff will do much good. I am assuming that pornography is such a powerful drug even as it is, and that the products coming along that will take pornography much farther than just looking at images, will be so compelling for their addicted users, that government attempts to ban it will pretty much be futile, and create very profitable black markets if prohibition were attempted.

Attacking the supply side of products that cause people immediate pleasure -- pornography, tobacco, alcohol, opiates, marijuana, sweet snacks, salty snacks -- does not work. People decry the effect on others, and claim do hate what it does to them. But they look for the stuff and pay for it and consume it. Sometimes people come to regret the lost time and money and the effect it has on their bodies and their relationships.

The only serious hope is forming people --children -- to help them to avoid things that are bad for them, and to help those who get mixed up with addictions and want to break them.

Right now, the commercial and political and personal cultures are all pushing the other way. That may change, but don't count on it. Follow the money. Not a happy time to be a parent. Still, it beats living under Stalin or Kim Jong Il, or in the Congo. Nothing and no place and no time can be perfect.

I agree that White middle class people who are themselves current and former drug users want it illegal as a way to keep it at arms length from their neighborhoods and from their kids, to "cabin it off" and make it a sort of clandestine pleasure that is to be indulged discretely. This is, strictly speaking, hypocrisy. As I see it, the blowback from this half-baked prohibition system is very bad, including a huge and expensive and destructive Prison Industrial Complex. But, since the direct costs (beside tax revenue) are mostly borne by people other than White middle class voters, they don't care about the misery they impose on ghettos ruled by gangs whose livelihood is selling drugs to their children and neighbors, or to them.

I could tell you I would add Vinge to my list of books to read, but I would be lying. I have hundreds of books I have not read yet. I know I will not get to Vernor Vinge in this lifetime.

I am giving up, inter alia, blogs (with a few specific exceptions where I have committed to write some things) for Lent, which starts tomorrow, anyway.

So for that reason, if for no other, I have indeed pursued this discussion as far as I am going to.

The Blowhard blog is often a place where contentious things are discussed civilly. That is one of its great charms.

Posted by: Lexington Green on February 24, 2009 8:43 PM

I personally don't have anything against good p0*n. You know the type that doesn't objectify women and treat us like trash. ATM, face screwing , money shots and the like are disgusting and sad to watch. How any woman can allow herself to be subjected to such horrible treatment I will never understand.

I notice that there is very little of the same type of hatred of women in gay male movies. Rocco, a gorgeous dark Italian, is sick. I can't stand to watch his movies, he has a tendency to get violent with his female costars. Mandingo is another actor whose movies I hate to watch. For one thing, he is circus tent huge so his costars are always in pain. Two, he is verbally abusive to his costars. I personally enjoy anything with Slayer, Mr.Marcus and Cuba. Funny enough, many women in the industry like(ed) to work with Cuba because he treated his costars with care.

Posted by: chic noir on February 24, 2009 8:56 PM

"Back on duty, delivering postings for visitors to dump on and pick apart, in a day or two."

Is this a plea for sympathy?

Just think of yourself as a child's favorite bear wagged around to the point of having tattered ears, missing an eye or a nose with some stuffing peaking out of a ripped seam.

Your visitors will kick up a fuss if they don't find you in your usual place soon.

Take care : )

Posted by: shiva on February 24, 2009 9:40 PM

As a professional author of pornography, I hope not. Who wants the sociological tourists and pop-culture regurgitators?

Posted by: Joe S. Walker on February 25, 2009 8:15 AM

I got nothing to say about p0rn and rocknroll beyond "they have their place" but as this has gone far afield already I'll add my fearless forecasts: in the next 3-6 months, as it sinks in just how screwed we are, both will see a resurgence; in the next 6-12 months, as it sinks in just how massively and profoundly screwed we are, suicide advice and supplies will be growth areas.


Posted by: Narr on February 25, 2009 11:49 AM

ST, hardly a country in the world has had more invaders over the centuries than the Philippines.

I imagine you've been there. Do you see the same attitudes among the women there as ascribe to French women?

Posted by: Brutus on February 25, 2009 8:31 PM

ST-ignore that post. I hadn't gotten down to the subsequent comment.

Posted by: Brutus on February 25, 2009 8:33 PM

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