Porn

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Porn.

Did that get your attention? Well, you’re not alone. Pornography, which used to lurk on the back shelves of seedy bookstores on the shabby screens of even seedier cinemas, is now everywhere. Blame the Internet if you like but this transition began in the 70s when chic New Yorkers flocked to movie houses in better neighbourhoods to see Deep Throat or The Devil in Miss Jones.

Now, porn lives on every laptop or tablet. In a few clicks, every taste can be served. Google can find any sex act you can imagine and quite a few you might never want to think about. In the West almost all of it is legal, with the exception of images involving children. Where it isn’t legal, it is still ubiquitous. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry whose motto seems to be: if you make it, they will come.

But it is not simply graphic images that have invaded our world; the very idea that forms the basis of pornography has become ubiquitous. The blurring of the lines between fantasy and reality and the confusion between lust and desire now form a key part of everything we do, even our politics.

My wife and I sometimes engage in what we call real estate porn; we’ve even dipped into tourism porn. We aren’t surfing the net for bawdy houses or nude beaches. We are gazing longingly at things that we can never have. Which is the essence of the porn experience – to gaze not at the forbidden but at the unattainable.

And then to imagine that we can attain it.

This is not a minor thing. Everyone has dreams but ordinary life tells us that those dreams are tempered by reality; at the very least, we learn, those dreams can only be attained, if at all, by hard work, sacrifice and focus. Nothing comes easily in the real world.

In the porn world, everything can be obtained with a wink and a nod. Beautiful women and men fall into our arms at the merest hint of desire. Even pizza delivery guys get laid on a regular basis. And everyone wants sex, everywhere and all the time – no matter how tough or shitty the day has been. And, if you don’t what’s wrong with you? It’s no wonder men feel inadequate (and it’s not merely penis size) and some women feel helpless. Rape culture didn’t start with pornography but it has undoubtedly been exacerbated by its spread. While men (and women) with real life experience might be slightly inured; studies have shown that the confusion over what is sexually normal (and by that I mean adult, responsible and reciprocal rather than any particular sexual practice) has impacted relationships among the post-Internet generations.

But the pornification of western culture doesn’t stop at the bedroom door or on the dance floor. The real estate bubble, boom and bust was, in a way, a porn experience – people unrealistically believing that the object of their desire was within reach – without cost or consequence.

And the current explosion of populist politicians a symptom of the same psychological stance. We listen to their impossible promises and desire what can never be achieved. And we let them pretend that problem solving is as simple as a nod or a wink. No wonder they prove inadequate, brags about penis size aside.

And that’s ten minutes.

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One thought on “Porn

  1. Great post. Thank you.
    I once read the phrase ‘poverty porn.’ Used in the context of people who take photos of very poor people and cultures in the midst of their struggle, and publicize them for their more affluent friends to view.
    Have an excellent weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

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