Thursday, 27 June 2013

Adult Entertainment

There's a big debate going on about violent porn (i.e. porn that simulates violence, is consensually violent, or may in some cases actually depict rape). It's not a subject upon which I can claim any expertise, but one thing does strike me. There's an implicit assumption in the 'anti' brigade that all porn is inherently bad. This in turn leads me to suspect they want to ban all of it. This is just plain bonkers. Yes, bonkers about bonking - I went there and bought the tee shirt with the dubious slogan.

An obvious analogy - I'm enjoying the French drama series Les Revenants (The Returned) on Channel 4. When I watch it online using 4OD I am informed that it's not suitable for younger viewers. I get the same message when I watch some fairly innocuous comedy on the BBC iPlayer. When I watch Scandinavian crime series like Arne Dahl I get a warning that they include not only violence but also naughty language, even though the latter is only found in the subtitles unless you speak Swedish. (Is it better or worse to read the word 'fuck' at the bottom of the screen, as opposed to hearing it?)

None of the above shows is pornographic, though between them they include sexually explicit language and images. Few people today think such entertainment made for adults should be banned or censored. Once, they did, and films that were deemed offensive didn't get shown in some towns because the local council did indeed ban them. The same went for books, which is why businesses like Olympia Press were created. It seems that whenever any medium achieves a high level of saturation - books (courtesy of state education), then cinema, then television, now the internet - there's a moral panic over its supposedly corrosive influence. And yet society survives relatively unscathed.

Perhaps a more sensible campaign would be to try and promote better porn, though perhaps the official term should be erotica or something. So my solution is to give the BBC and C4 - both recipients of public funding, one way or another - to create high quality erotic TV. The fact that this would give numerous MPs, newspaper editors, and clergy apoplexy is a fringe benefit. Also, I quite like the idea of tuning in to the unexpurgated edition of The Archers at bedtime. 'That's a mighty big silage clamp you've got there, Ed.'

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