The porn tsunami is upon us. A multi-billion-dollar global industry, pornography is everywhere, much of it getting into the hands of children and threatening to permanently rewire their attitudes toward sex. So says Perversion for Profit, a 1964 film by American group Citizens for Decent Literature that did the rounds on social media a few weeks ago. News anchor George Putnam intones dodgy statistics over a representative montage of filth: lingerie-clad cheesecake girls; be-shorted muscle men; a nude reclining en plein air while a goat prints its shadow artistically on a barn wall behind her. This is the porn threat of the 1960s: pictures of grinning naked people arrayed on newsstand shelves where any kid with a nickel can buy them. The catalogue of ‘perversions’ to which porn renders young minds susceptible includes fetishism, bestiality (goat!), homosexuality (bodybuilding!), and indifference to the Communist conspiracy.
Safe to say porn has come on since 1964, in both ubiquity and explicitness. It’s a quarter century since Linda Boreman, aka Linda Lovelace, told the US Attorney General’s Commission that she’d been drugged, beaten and held at gunpoint throughout the making of Deep Throat. It’s nearly a decade since California pornographer Max Hardcore went to prison for an extensive videography of very young women in pigtails and school uniforms being vomited on, urinated on, or commanded to suck semen from their own colons through a hose. A statistician crunched billions of Google searches last year and concluded that about one in six was for porn. March of this year saw the launch of Porn Studies, a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal. The San Francisco Armory, studio of hardcore fetish outfit Kink.com, issues tourist lanyards and has 251 reviews on Yelp. In a survey of 500 UK teenagers, the majority said regular exposure to porn is commonplace by thirteen or fourteen. One in ten had encountered porn before leaving primary school. Over 120 000 Redditors to date, 97% of them men, have taken the ‘NoFap 90-Day Challenge,’ abstaining from porn to recover the sex drive, physical sensitivity, mental focus and desire for real-live people that they feel have been killed by their addiction. As a recent report to the Children’s Commissioner for England put it, ‘Basically… Porn is everywhere.’
I remember when I first found myself in a porn scene. In a sharehouse bedroom in inner-city Sydney, under the gaze of the gig posters I used to cut down from lamp posts, I betook me to my futon with my new favourite boy and it happened: the vacancy. The dead eyes. The silly acrobatics. It took me a while to figure out that there was an invisible camera hovering beside us: the camera my beau was performing for, arching and thrusting and gurning, to make sure he was doing a good fuck.
This was, I guess, 1999—a couple of years into that trend of adding diamante Playboy bunnies to chain-store knickers and silver-plated pendants, which eventually progressed to t-shirts that just read ‘Pornstar.’ Broadband hadn’t happened yet, so porn proper was still reaching us in dribs and drabs. It was right there, if you wanted it, of course, in a dedicated section of the video shop. Until recently it had been the province of sad weirdos and bored marrieds. More and more often, however, our male friends were watching it in groups in our lounge rooms ‘as a joke.’ The girls would stay and crack wise, or be extra nonchalant, just to see if it made them uncomfortable. But with the advent of high-speed internet no one needed a jokey excuse to get hold of porn anymore. You didn’t even have to put your outside trousers on. The same moment you conceived the idle whim to watch some hardcore, lo, the hardcore would appear. And I have to wonder if the joke wasn’t on us after all.
Read the rest of this article at the King’s Review.