Back in the day, I always used to hear the civic-minded folks -- the so-called 'pillars of the community' -- howl that there was too much "sexandviolence" on television. Not "sex and violence"; no, it was said as one word: "sexandviolence". This wasn't entirely true, of course. There was plenty of violence. And that was about it. No sex. On the Silver Screen as well as the Boob-tube, sexual innuendo consisted of two would-be lovers kissing and then a Fade to Black. You had to use your imagination for the rest. To be fair, the killing scenes usually just involved a quick bullet to the heart followed by the dead guy sagging to the floor.
No tits and ass in the 'love' scenes; no brains smeared on the wall in the kill scenes. And no profanity in TV comedy.
Then something happened, or maybe a lot of things happened, and everything became more graphic. Cable TV came along in America and Pay TV (Home Box Office, Cinemax, etc.) took care of the rest. You got to see 'beautiful' people getting down to it in bed, and unlucky -- or maybe very deserving -- dudes getting their faces hammered in and their bowels blasted out on the screen. And no self-respecting comic would dream of doing a routine without filling the air with trashy language, the filthier the better.
I guess it was enjoyable. Obviously, it was what the public wanted or they wouldn't have kept doing it. But I always had several questions. Why, I wondered, were sex and violence considered to be somehow on par, on equal footing -- one as bad as the other? .After all, violence was about maiming and killing people, whereas sex was about people making each other feel good. Right? To me, it was like comparing the taste of shit with the taste of ice cream. In other words, there was no comparison. Since then, I have come to understand the enormous power of the "sex drive", and to recognize that it is not such a gentle impulse after all. Any of my readers who has ever enjoyed really great sex will know what a tumultuous and tempestuous experience it is. Indeed, a lot of violent behavior comes as a result of a frustrated or twisted (usually by religion and a stupid family upbringing) sexual urge. Sexual jealously can easily erupt into murder, etc. So there is a correlation.
Yet, aside from meaningless lip service, there is never any real attempt to curb the violence that we see on TV or on video games, for that matter. Somebody did some research once to try and estimate how many simulated killings and murders (not always the same thing) that the average child sees from the time he/she first starts watching TV. I forget the final tally, but it ran into the thousands. And while the undeniably desensitizing effects of such gory repetition can be debated endlessly in terms of whether or not such viewing of the make-believe actually stimulates an impulse to real-life violence (I think it does), absolutely no causal effect has ever been proven to the effect that watching other people have sex in a porn film, let's say, actually leads to criminal sexual behaviour.. Mostly it just leads to masturbation if the viewer is alone -- as usually, he is.
Rape, we know from research, has little to do with sex and more to do with intimidation and domination. Kinky pornography is just that -- it appeals to people with special tastes. I once helped a girl prepare a paper on prostitution for her Criminology class, and I found that many women who are "on the game" cater to men who have sexual tastes they would be humiliated to approach their wives and girlfriends about. There is no question that some brands of this genre go way too far -- snuff films, beastiality and especially child pornography are odious, and its perpetrators should be eliminated from society -- but for one reason and one reason only: They are predators who assault the weak and naive. Any form of sex between two consenting adults does not violate this code.
Have you ever noticed that in 'love scenes' in the films we see, the lovers are ALWAYS physically beautiful. I mean, have you ever witnessed a film where two hog-fat and butt-ugly bulldozers go at it, grunting and snorting, zits popping and cellulite jiggling like a pile of jelly fish? Hell no, and why is that? Because it would betray the fantasy. We want to imagine sex as something surpassingly erotic, and for that, we need erotic-looking actors. And yet the truth is, most people look more like Ralph and Peggy than like Lance and Lucretia.
Porno is fantasy, just like Mickey Mouse and The Little Mermaid. That is why all the male actors are enormously well-endowed and the females acrobatic and insatiable. Real life is usually not like that at all. Nor is real life about Rambo and the Terminator. .
Yet the Van Dammes, Chuck Norrises, and Sly Stallones get a pass. We are allowed to watch them bash in heads and break bones.
Pornography, on the other hand -- and it is not easy to define from one era to the next ("Lady Chatterly's Lover" , once banned as pornography of the worst kind, is now an established classic) -- is the subject of nonstop governmental crackdowns and witch-hunts. I notice that the censors see pornography everywhere. Their minds dwell on sex more, it appears, than the people who are actually doing it a lot. And, more often than not, these self-appointed censors are up to a lot of sexual tricks themselves. Whether American, Russian, or whatever, they are invariably phony.
This is why the Russian government's obsession with blocking porn sites, etc., is laughable. As well as being, as with almost all things put into force by this government, ultimately hypocritical, self-serving, and under-written by a hidden agenda. Bad government joining hands with religious crackpots always find an easy target in pornography.We would, in fact, be better off imitating the German model, where prostitution is legal and the girl you met at the fitness center you might well meet again at the local, entirely legal, brothel, where she is defined as a 'sex worker' rather than as a 'hooker.' Who knows but you might not REALLY fall in love with her then?
More on this subject in my next blog.
===Eric Richard Le Roy===