Talking this afternoon to yet another academic interested in studying the effects of the extreme porn laws, I was struck, once more, both by the obsession that politicians of both major parties have with sex…and the inability of almost anyone over a certain age to “get it” as regards modern day sex.
Extreme porn, as any fule know, is pornographic depiction of various harmful acts between grown ups. What’s porn? Why, tis anything produced solely or principally for “purposes of sexual arousal”.
I’ll pass on discussion of the sex-plus rule for now – except to note that whilst new Labour appear to have a hissy fit about the idea of violence leading to erections and moistness, they are more than happy for people to watch and presumably emulate the grotesque violence present in movies such as the Saw or Hostel franchises.
I’ll also pass on the equally fascinating question of when in the sequence this stuff gets “produced” for sexual purposes. Is it at the point when the film’s Director yells: “Cut! Er, no: I mean REALLY cut!” Or is it at the point where some perverted sod downloads the two seconds of extreme violence from the Sound of Music” and loops it endlessly on his iPod for masturbatory purposes. That is a question still to resolve.
No. What gets me: what sends me into orbit are, the rigidly unimaginative and seemingly uninformed comments by people who ought to know better. I will in this respect excuse Geoff Pearson who, defending a client in Sunderland, is reported as saying: “I can’t imagine why you would want to watch this, unless you were the particular type of person that found some gratification in it.”
Having spoken wth Mr Peason, he comes across as a thoroughly decent lawyer, trying to do his best for a client in an area where there are next to no precedents.
I feel less lenient on the various judges and wig-wearers who clog up our courtrooms and pontificate on such matters. You know their type from the Lady Chatterley case: their sexual horizons then seemed limited by the question of whether a work was suitable for a servant to read and, in some respects, they have progressed little since. Back in Sunderland, District Judge Roger Eley weighed in with: “There is no doubt that this was a revolting and perverted piece of video and there is no reasonable explanation for this being on your mobile for the time it was”.
Yet such comments do little to reflect the reality of research into this area or indeed the reality of how and why this sort of material gets circulated.
They also mean that not a few individuals may be going to prison – or receiving community sentences over the next few years – because our legal profession is as constipated in its view of modern society (NOT sexuality) as new Labour.
The world according to Lord Hunt, who piloted this law through the Lords, is simple. It consists of evil porn merchants producing even eviller porn that features people having nasty things done to their private bits. Other evil (or deluded) people pay good money for this stuff, thereby perpetuating an evil trade: persecute these people for possessing such nastiness and the courts thereby interrupt the flow of evil, cutting off funds and starving the evil smut barons. Clear?
As mud. Because of course, Lord Hunt, in his innocence, appears to know little or nothing of a modern day trend toward shock as video genre – and what academics refer to increasingly as “gift economics”. The latter is the phenomenon whereby individuals stick rude pics and slips of themselves up on the internet, and are surprised when a couple of years later they rent a steamy porn movie – only to find they now feature centre stage.
The indignity: having to pay to watch antics you freely donated to the world-wide web!
The first of these trends is instantly recognisable in films like “Jackass”, which features young men doing incredibly stupid and dangerous things to one another, possibly as some sort of male bonding exercise. It can also be seen both in clips like “Two Girls, One Cup” – which I am glad to say I have NOT seen – and in reaction movies, or clips that film the reaction of individuals to the original video.
As far as extreme porn goes, the clips that have recently been denounced as such may have been pornographic. Or they may not. At least one such clip seems to dovetail closely with a video produced in respect of the Body Modification Pain Olympics project. Like “Jackass”, this clip is produced to shock but, unless you are a politician or a member of the legal profession, are produced not for sexual purposes, but as a sort of perverse “fun”.
Believe it or not its done “for a laugh”, or to wind up mates. In three out of four recent cases of this type, clips appear to have been sent unsolicited and without payment – which sort of punctures the argument about disrupting the porn economy. Recipients mostly claim not to have known it was an offence to keep them and not to have used them for any sort of sexual gratification: at least two of the four simply felt it was revolting and “not their sort of thing” – but just forgot to delete the clip in question.
So there you have it: a law designed to disrupt an evil trade by hitting those who support it where it hurts – in their pockets – is doing no such thing. Individuals who have very little interest in the material being sent to them are nonetheless being labelled as monsters.
More seriously, the law in respect of what is, what is not sexual is being interpreted by a bunch of people whose sexual horizons are so narrow, they apparently believe that flesh flashed and groins exposed can only be about one thing. It isn’t. It really isn’t.