Good morning chums!
You might recall, a fortnight ago, my post on how certain people aren’t very good with computers. This week (specifically, last Friday), I witnessed further evidence to support this, which came in the shape of the man who had never even heard of the internet. This man spent at least ten minutes loitering by the magazine rack. I didn’t immediately work out what he was up to, but then the coast cleared, and he deposited some very strange pornography on the counter.
This pornography was possibly the most grotesque I have ever seen in print. Which I presume is the reason he saw fit to bury it beneath sixteen packets of McCoys; as though doing so might somehow disguise his depravity rather than drawing attention to it. His was the shame that can only come while preparing to spend an evening parked in darkened layby just off the M6, frantically stuffing handfuls of ridge-cut crisps into his mouth while fondling himself over images that only a deeply, deeply disturbed mind could consider erotic. And probably listening to Kate Bush while doing so.
The most curious thing is that he paid ten pounds for this stuff. To be sure, the cellophane-wrapped package contained both a DVD and a magazine, but I’m far from convinced that any pornography could possibly merit such a price tag – surely nothing that could be contained on a DVD, anyway. For that sort of fee I would I expect a presentation in 1080p, at the very least. This is the year 2014!
You might be wondering whether I get that sort of thing often, and the answer is no. The man’s shame was quite unique. The two Welshmen who later piled a far greater quantity of smut onto the counter are far more typical. “I’ll get this one!” declared to the other. As though pornography were now the sort of thing that people buy in rounds.
These encounters seem to be getting rarer. As is the case in all other media, the market for smut wrapped in plastic is dying, while the market for smut transmitted in a series of ones and zeroes is booming. We have finally dropped anchor just off the shore of that anarcho-masturbatopia, where we shall all be free to vent our pent-up hedonism at a moment’s notice, and not feel the slightest shame in it. Isn’t this a good thing? That we have autonomy over our own bodies? That we’re all free wank ourselves off – and to wank one another off – and have unrestricted access to all of the material that might facilitate such wanking?
But wait! This is a little Faustian, wouldn’t you say? There are side effects that are worth considering; one being that small children can access the stuff with virtually the same ease that anyone else can. But isn’t ‘Think of the children!’ a cliché often spouted by people who, by and large, should really just lighten up and join the revolution?
Well, possibly. But then you hear anecdotal evidence that there are five-year olds downloading hardcore pornography to their mobile phones and then bringing it into the local school, and showing it to all of the other five-year olds. It’s at that point that I concede that the ‘think-of-the-children’ people might be onto something. That’s enough to induce a little reticence in the mind of even the most committed laizez-faire dolphin-strangler.
Is this such a big deal, though? Is porno really that harmful? On-screen violence has never been more freely available, and yet by every measure, violent crime is falling. The enormous success of the Grand Theft Auto franchise has not thus far heralded an epidemic of calling up the boys and going for a joyride.
I often hear people allege hypocrisy, here. Our society is perfectly happy to endlessly parade ultraviolence, while sex is something that we’re really quite prudish about. Whence cometh such jarring dissonance? Wouldn’t an image of something terribly violent be more damaging to wee little children than images of people boning one another? Bearing in mind that one activity is, by and large, a good deal more harmful than the other: isn’t it strange that we find killing people acceptable, while fucking them is terrible?
Well, no, actually; it’s quite sensible. If you want a reason why it’s sensible, then you need only imagine an episode of Tom and Jerry in which Tom chases Jerry, as normal – excepting that the pursuit results not in personal injury, but in copulation. I’m talking about Tom and Jerry having sex with one another. Yeah.
Now, most people would find that a little bit peculiar, for a variety of reasons; chiefly, they might question why a cat and a mouse would want to have sex with one another, and what pleasure anyone could derive from watching them do so. I imagine a little kid would find an image of two humans copulating to be equally incomprehensible (and disturbing), since little kids don’t know what sex is and why anyone would want to do it.
And this is the problem with porn, I suppose – it’s not real sex. But if you don’t know what real sex is, then you aren’t equipped to distinguish fantasy from reality. In that case, porn is terrifying, confusing, and – worst of all – instructive. It’s this last one that is the most troubling, since it leads to people eventually doing it wrong. The Children might conceivably wonder about all sorts of things:
What is the purpose of ejaculation? Why do women have breasts? How does sex occur? These are all questions to which pornography provides answers, which are, respectively: Because women love the taste of ejaculate; so that men have something to ejaculate on, when they tire of ejaculating into women’s mouths; and after an afternoon spent driving a minibus around a city centre, where women respond to random sexual solicitation with all of the good humour and acquiescence that we expect of them.
Truly, the future is going to be terrifying.
Until next week.