Smile Politely

The New Porn

I’ve enjoyed the lively discussion between my editor and his vast readership regarding appropriate subjects for local newspapers.

It recalled to me an article about porn, also from Illini Media. The article critiqued a couple of porn sites. (I couldn’t find it searching Can anyone help?) I found it a thoroughly appropriate article for a college newspaper, printed or online. College kids — and high school kids for that matter — are bursting with hormones. The males are particularly bursting, and often. (This is why Joycelyn Elders is my heroine. She understands human bodily functions in a way that churchy people refuse to do.)

I visited the websites mentioned and found no prurient thrill, whatsoever. I guess it’s a matter of tastes. But like Potter Stewart, I knew it when I saw it. It was certainly indecent, possibly obscene. But because “obscenity” is defined by community standard, and the internet has no sense of decency, I expect Potter Stewart’s definition of obscenity would go unfulfilled.

But don’t worry, all you Doctor Dobson enthusiasts. Porn is almost over.

In the end, the porn business will crumble. The uptight, sexless old men and women who hate it will prevail. It’s just like the music business in that sense. The stuff being produced these days is terrible, and there’s no market for it — because everyone gets it for free, now.

Art, including erotic art, is expensive. The good stuff requires a tasteful aesthetic. Perhaps it also requires a tasteless, taste-free, or differently-tasted regard for sexuality. But I doubt it. Most people like sex. Even your parents.

This picture featured prominently on some of this week’s political blogs. It’s the most pruriently exciting thing I’ve seen online in some time. It makes me want to see more, and yet, I really don’t want to see more.

For one thing, I got the enlarged version of the same picture, and immediately realized that it’s the wanting more that’s good, whereas the having more is dull. It’s like Giftsmas — the anticipation was great, and the morning of December 25 was kind of a let down. For purposes of sexual excitement, the sell is more exciting than the buy.

When I was 14, I combed the libraries of progressive neighbors, while ostensibly feeding their cats. The books published by ‘70s feminists were fantastic. Nancy Friday, Shere Hite, etc. There were also those Friday night, over-dubbed, European imports on Cinemax.

These filthy media gave me a wonderful sense of what was absolutely forbidden and naughty and which I should attempt as soon as possible. Having not been raised Catholic, I had no other source for these wretched thoughts. So it’s good that I stumbled across them. If sex were not evil, forbidden and dangerous, people would just have it. And then where would the church be?

I look forward to the time when dirty books and paintings — and movies with good lighting, soundtracks and dialog — will once again unseat cheaply produced MPEGs as the main source of media debauchery. The discourse will change, too. Rather than “Tits! Tits! Tits!” there might even be some clever turns of phrase.

You know, art.

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