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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

An Xmas thought: porn is hip « Previous | |Next »
December 23, 2003

CartoonVH9.jpg I've noticed this too. Porn has sneaked into everyday life. Porn culture is what is cool in the fashion, advertising media world. Porno chic is now.

And I've also noticed the silence about the increasing acceptance of what was once condemned. I've posted some provocative images and the reaction has been silence.

The silence is what is strange.

It is strange because we are talking about a (often perverted) form of sexuality. We are not relaxed and comfortable about the pervasiveness of porn images of sexuality. There is a public unease and anxiety that is only glossed over. The glossing over is all surface. The anxiety rules.

There was some commentary over at DogsfightAtBankstown. (The comments and discussion seem to have disappeared.) Most public commentary is based on experiences of being revolted or enticed, shocked or titillated. So it either condemns porn, or it defends it in the name of freedom that refuses to make judgements (in postmodern versions as pure textual play that “means” nothing at all.)

Pornography is not just a successful Internet business. It is central to our culture because it has meanings and a narrative, exposes our liberal patriarchical culture to itself and is the royal road to the cultural unconscious.

More is going on here than sexual relations under late consumer capitalism being commodified: all that is intimate and personal about our sexuality being sold in exchange for celebrity and money. Conservatives (Richard Alston and Brian Harradine) say that all that is being expressed is misogyny, social decay and emptiness, and they then say that they want to shield the public from the porn images that the libertarians say undermine society's prim social decorum.

The effect of this kind of this conservatism to keep our secret shames and grubby secrets veiled.

Porn is more than an expression of the nihilism at the heart of consumer culture. Laura Kipnis observes that:


"... pornography is best understood as a form of cultural expression. It is a fictional, fantastical, even allegorical realm; it neither reflects the real world, nor is it some hypnotizing call to action. The world of pornography is mythological and hyperbolic, peopled by fictional characters. It doesn't and never will exist. But what it does do is to insist on a sanctioned space for fantasy. And this is the basis of so much of the controversy it engenders, because pornography has a talent for making its particular fantasies look like dangerous, socially destabilizing things."


It is the excess in liberal capitalist society; the excess desire that is not contained by consumer capitalism. An excess of desire in which the sexual and aggressive fantasies unfolding in the circulating porn images relate to the conscious or unconscious sexual and aggressive fantasies we carry round with us in our daily lives. We respond to porn because it hits us where we many of us secretly live.

Many struggle with the shame of that.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:02 AM | | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (1)
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The debate on pornography splutters along in Australia. Tim Ferguson has responded to Simon Castles. Castles says that: "...ours is [Read More]

 
Comments

Comments

Yes unfortunately the comments host has wiped all old comments of our blogs. But I want to take up the discussion again in the New Year. I'm not entirely convinced of Kapnis' arguments for example. p.s. I hope that wasn't really you on junk for code given where the cartoon came from. But Suzanne seems a wise woman. Listen to her ;-)

i think the images you posted were provocative, but not pornographic.. porn is intellectually meaningless, serving only to sexually arouse, whereas the images you posted complimented your commentary..

oh, and there always the possibility that people are getting tired of hearing themselves complain..