In essence, sex has become just another commodity to be casually consumed then discarded.
In my view, the typical check list of arguments against porn don’t get at the heart of the matter.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997) and the casting of porn actor James Deen in Paul Shrader’s The Canyons (2013) is a measure of the more laissez-faire attitude to the so-called ‘adult entertainment’ industry. Recent biopics about Linda Lovelace, Paul Raymond and a proposed movie about Playboy founder Hugh Hefner further exemplify how what was once taboo has now entered the mainstream.
This cultural trend is also evident in the pornification of pop videos. in the phenomenal success of Fifty Shades Of Grey and numerous spin-offs and in the manner in which sex is routinely used to sell everything from power tools to perfume.
Back in 1972, writing in The Joy Of Sex Alex Comfort was quite right to point out that “most normal people enjoy looking at sex books and reading sex fantasies, which is why abnormal people have to spend so much time and money suppressing them”.
But we live in very different times now. If you do a casual internet search for tossing salads, enjoying creampies or experiencing facials you’re likely to get more than you bargained for.
In Big Red Son, an essay on the Adult Video News Awards, David Foster Wallace sounded a more contemporary note of warning: “the more acceptable in modern culture it becomes, the further porn will have to go to preserve the sense of unacceptability that is essential to its appeal”.
When nothing is left to the imagination there is no more space for fantasies.
My own definition of pornography is not confined to that which causes sexual excitement. I would extend it to include anything that numbs the brain to the point that once active citizens become little more than passive voyeurs.