Fifty Shades of Porn

Posted: September 23, 2012 in Books, Current Events, Entertainment, Pedagogy & Education, Philosophical Debris
Tags: ,

In 1978 a landmark movie was released that would change the face not only of film but of western culture.  The movie was National Lampoon’s Animal House and it began a trend of movies that were unheard of before its release.  Riding on its coat tails was everything from Revenge of the Nerds, to Airplane to Porkys to, most recently, The Hangover.  It was the glorification of stupid.  It was permission to look at vulgarity, ignorance and slobbishness  (slobitude? slobbery?) as not only acceptable but also as desirable.  As with most such pivotal points, the subject has become a little more refined over the years, but the central sentiment still remains.  (You see this in Punk, where the viciousness drained out of it after a few years, but the energy and spirit remained.)  I recall a noticeable shift in social norms as well.  It was a long awaited vindication for the ignorant and an excuse for those who were into wild, mindless partying.  It was a glorification of ignorance which, I feel, was at least partially responsible for the rejection of intelligence in American society.  (It is interesting to note that the movie bombed outside of N. America and Australia, where this glorification of the ignorant does not seem to exist to anywhere near the same degree.)  It was a sociological event.

I believe that we are at a similar pivotal point with the release of Fifty Shades of Grey.  Since the rise of the Internet, the porn industry has flourished.  When I was a kid, porn was a few magazines hidden under the bed, and, if you were really lucky, sneaking a look at your friend’s dad’s 8mm movies one night when the parents were out.  Porn became more accessible with recorded media such as VHS and DVD, but still was tucked away from most people and especially from kids.  The recent access to the Internet has changed that.  In the past five years, increased Internet access through smart phones and tablets, plus the fact that many teenagers have a laptop in their room, not to mention adults having unrestricted access, has resulted in easy access porn for everyone.  Not only that, but anything with a camera attached provides the opportunity to make your own personal porn, leading to all kinds of sharing among people of all ages.  Yes video sexting is real and wide spread.  If you can get a teen or young adult to talk honestly, they’ll tell you that porn is pervasive.

I believe that this has an impact on our society, in fact I’m certain of it and will post something at a later date that explains that.  I don’t want to get into whether this is a good or bad thing in this post as it would require an oversimplification of the issue.  Suffice it to say that it is a reality.

And then comes Fifty Shades of Grey, a novel which is not only regarded as poorly written porn, but also one which deals primarily with sado-masochistic themes.  In spite of repeatedly terrible reviews, it becomes a sensation, getting a lot of mention and discussion on TV and radio.  It is the legitimization of porn, giving rise to a new term, “mommy porn”.  People talk about it opening up new and healthy dialogue about sexuality, but that’s kind of like people saying that violent movies are a social commentary on violence.  The reality is much more obvious.  This kind of book, which used to be in the back of the store with the Romance novels, now gets front row centre billing.  It is really just Harlequin Romance juiced up a lot with more graphic sex.  And it is the graphic sex which seems to be giving it its legitimization, -being somehow profound or socially significant.  The end result will be the legitimization and normalization of porn.  Like the legitimization of vulgarity with Animal House, it will evolve and become more tempered as it insidiously permeates our culture.  This is not a value judgement on sexuality, or even on sexuality and youth; it is just a statement about how a particular phenomenon is capable of infiltrating our cultural psyche.

Right now it is seen as an adult phenomenon, but with porn not only being accessible to the young, but probably more accessible, this normalization of porn will have ripple effect through our society.  We already see it in a normalization of various sexual behaviours in young people.  The release of Fifty Shades… will likely be viewed in twenty years as a turning point in sexual standards and attitudes.  Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is a matter worthy of considerable debate.  But it is likely inevitable.

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Comments
  1. Great blog here! Also your site loads up fast!
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  2. […] my previous entry called “Fifty Shades of Porn” I predicted that Fifty Shades of Grey was going to do for media what “Animal House” did […]

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