Thoughts from my study of Horror, Media, and Narrrative

For Your Consideration

“It’s all about common sense” I droned on.

I was giving a presentation—one that I had delivered enough times that I was able to say the right words while mentally picturing myself outside relaxing in the sun. It was starting to become a bit stuffy and weather like this simply couldn’t be enjoyed properly without a pool, some alcohol, and some friends.

“I mean, you really wouldn’t walk around by yourself at 3 o’clock in the morning in your hometown, so why would you here?” I shifted focus briefly as I wrapped up in order to make eye contact with the inquirer.

With a sigh, I let go of my brief reverie. It was probably for the best—after all, my immediate instinct would have been to don clothes that would have included at least one of the following items:  a wood necklace, a visor, an A&F t-shirt, or cargo shorts. I think that we all agree that it would have been a tragic sight, one best suited for those times in college when I could actually pull that getup off.

As I went back to my desk, I continued to think about cases where the movie in our minds is always much grander and more romantic than reality. Weddings, surprise birthday parties, a successful first date—these are all things that inevitably play out better in our mental pictures than in reality (which is not to say that the actual events are ever any less than the imagined version, they’re just different).

“You know what else is vastly different on screen versus real life?” the little voice inside of my head chirped, “Porn.”

Pornography, by its nature, aims to glorify, glamorize, and heighten the act of sex. I mean, if a film did not do that, it would mean three things:  the movie would be in black and white, I would be in the 50s, and I would be in Health class learning that Good Girls Don’t. I’m completely fine with all of this; I know that the piece in front of me is just a fantasy and I’m okay with that.

But the fantasies are getting weirder.

One of the trends that I’ve noticed in the past years is the incorporation of behavior that would never happen in most typical sexual relationships but is the highlight of the porn. Right now, we have anything from girls/guys getting picked up in a van and having sex with a “stranger,” to having sex in front of your friends in a public setting, to the rather disturbing images of men placing their hands around a woman’s throat and pretending to strangle her while they have sex. There are even sites out there that feature women and men gagging so hard during oral sex that they cry.

Now, I’m not saying that you’re bad if you enjoy this sort of stuff (I do question if the last two examples of porn show respect toward all participants but I’m a party pooper like that). I would definitely say, though, that we are entering an era where we are craving stimulation that is so extreme that we would probably not engage in any of these acts in person. What does it say about us that we enjoy watching a woman (or a man) get gang raped by fifteen people to the point where the subject can’t stop drooling? Anything? Nothing?

I think that porn’s ability to reflect back our own desires is one of the reasons that we revile it so much (well, that and our general Puritanical aversion to sex)—we’d like to think that we’re all Good Girls/Boys and that we don’t do that sort of stuff. There’s something to be said for restraint, as any religion will tell you, but I also think that there’s something to be said for recognizing, and becoming comfortable with, your sexual wishes.

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