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Friday, May 21, 2010

How To Talk To Your Girlfriend (or Wife) About Your Porn Hobby

Most women are afraid of porn.

I hate to say that in this enlightened age, but especially among the middle-aged and older, female sexual sensibilities have not quite caught up with men's, in general. Taught by a thousand sensationalist day-time talk shows and half a million women's magazine articles about various men's "porn addiction" and "sex addiction", they've been taught that viewing sexually explicit material is somehow deviant, a sign of mental illness, or morally abhorrent. So when they discover your secret cache of DVDs hiding in a Civil War DVD box set, or realize that you aren't working on a spreadsheet at the computer late at night, they freak out and often jump to conclusions about you, your relationship, and your fitness as a mate.

They don’t understand what a vital part of male sexuality erotica and masturbation are. When they accidentally find your movie stash, or – worse yet – bust you jerkin’ the gherkin, their first inclination is to freak out. Why? Because most women suffer from critical low self-esteem, and the slightest hint that they are not the sex goddesses they assume they are because they read Cosmo is a crippling blow. So when the inevitable does happen, it is best to be pre-prepared with your arguments, lest you wind up in couple's counseling prematurely.

For the complete article, including all 12 steps, click here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Steve Jobs: Anti-Porn Crusader?

Disclaimer: I’m a PC guy, not a Mac guy. While many people around me use Macs every day, and associated iProducts, my sole contribution to Steve Jobs’ retirement fund is an iPod Shuffle I got as a gift. I like the Shuffle, but I’ve yet to iPurchase anything at the App Store.

And Steve Jobs just made that a lot easier to defend, in my Mac-heavy environment.

I work in porn – on the periphery, perhaps (no, that’s not me with the 12” ego on screen – sorry ladies!) – but the fact is I make my living because people like to be entertained about sex. Sometimes they might even masturbate because of something I’ve helped create. Now some desert mystics have proposed that sex is, indeed, a bad thing, but while there are certainly horrible things that happen sexually to people every day, in general I personally consider sex to be a Good Thing. A Good Adult Thing.

It might surprise you to know that people in “the Industry” are not all wild perverts ready to encourage promiscuity at every turn and convince a whole new generation of youngsters into habitual masturbators or sex criminals. Far from it: most parents associated with “the Industry” are actually far more aware of how sexualized our culture is than folks in the mainstream. We see the sexual “sizzle” not just in Cosmo and Maxim, but even in the cute Disney shows, and we are aware of how subtle and insidious the creeping mainstream sexualization is to our children.

Yes, people "in porn" have children, too. Daughters, even. Granddaughters, even. We love them as much as any parent could love a child, and want the best for them just as any other parent would. And while most of us would prefer not to see our children in "the Industry" when they grow up and are adults, we usually understand the nature of the term "adult", and understand that it implies a free and independent choice. Parenthetically, it's unlikely any of our children would end up in "the Industry" without us letting them know exactly what that means, the potential for exploitation, and the consequences associated with that free and independent choice. It's not that we're ashamed of what we do, most of us, it's that we know better than anyone outside of "the Industry" just what is possible, and most of us want our kids to have all the information about their career choices, whether it's porn, the military, or something sordid and fly-by-night like an App Store developer. Having daughters doesn't make us more callous to the less-savory aspects of "the Industry", it makes us even more sensitive to them. And it isn't just about "our little girls" -- our sons are just as much in our hearts and minds when we attempt to prolong their childhoods as long as possible. We are sensitive to sex in all of its mainstream manifestations, just like Tech Nerds are sensitive to digital technology. Hell, we usually give sex and our society a lot more conscious thought than the average parent does.

My kids will never have “Bratz” dolls, for instance, because I think that the styles and presentation of the toy encourage a premature introduction to the pressures of adult sexuality to its target demographic. Nor do I allow them to watch certain shows that are ostensibly about kids, but end up being all about the clothes and the boyfriends and the gossip. Those things tear at the essential innocence of our children long before they even get the glimmer of what a penis or a vagina is actually for. Being in “the Industry” has made me achingly aware just how brief the innocence of childhood is, and how eager society in general is to introduce our kids to sex prematurely. If I had to guess, I’d say that most people in “the Industry” feel the same way. We’re parents too, many of us, and while some folks might disagree with what we do for a living, the fact is that we are citizens doing legitimate, legal work in a well-regulated business in an effort to support our families. And most of us, I believe, try to do that with some sort of ethical and moral compass in hand. Just because we're "pornographers" doesn't make us any less morally guided people or responsible citizens -- or parents -- than other people.

Why don’t I go make a living doing something less tawdry, you ask? Because I’m good at what I do and I enjoy doing it. I like knowing that what I do contributes to grown-up people’s sexual happiness and general well-being. I enjoy putting out a quality product that makes people happy, gives them a little entertaining break from the stresses of everyday life, and, by Aphrodite, porn is a hell of a lot cheaper way to have fun than, say, nine holes of golf on a decent public course. I’m an adult in a free country making legal entertainment for other adults, and my product is both taxed and regulated. I don’t want any of my stuff shown to minors – ever. That’s the last thing I want. You could say I have strong moral objections to anyone doing that. Just as a responsible gun manufacturer or a pharmaceutical developer knows that there is a proper customer base for their products as well as those who should not have access to them, I know that kids should not have easy access to pornography. I’m all in favor of age verification and other mechanisms to reasonably restrict the ability of minors to view pornography.

But Steve Jobs wants an internet devoid of porn – and he said so.

Or, at least, he wants to “be” the internet of the future, via iPhone, iTouch and iPad, and he wants to make that internet as non-sexual as possible. I’ve already commented at length on Apple’s removal of all adult content from the App Store, but this recent email exchange between Jobs and a critic is telling. The man not only sees himself on a crusade against porn, like so many others, he sees himself justified, by virtue of his creation, to censor the content and restrict the free-flow of information that is the heart and soul of the internet. Only he’s rather selective in his judgment: violence of any sort doesn’t seem to be a big issue for him, just boobies.

Not that the Apps at the App Store were anything to write home about to begin with, sexually speaking. And it isn’t like you can’t access third-party porn via the net on an iPad or an iTouch – yet. But it’s the principal of the thing. Yes, as the brains behind the iPad Jobs has the right to restrict the data any way he chooses – that’s his right in a free market democracy. He can ignore the fact that porn has driven the success of the internet, including Apple, for decades. He can pass the inconvenient truth that the Mac is the choice of professional pornographers everywhere for creating their product -- that's a pretty small market, anyway. He can turn his back on the millions of full-grown adults, men and women, who have masturbated in front of Macs for years. He can decide, on his own, just what our kids should and shouldn’t be exposed to on his platform.

But the fact is, Apple risks a lot by doing so, and Google (who doesn’t mind making money off of masturbation one little bit) is salivating in the wings with Android and Chrome and other fun stuff that might not be as flashy (no pun intended) as Apple, but usually cheaper, more compatible and more . . . open. Not everyone is in love with the iPad, after all, and not just because of a lack of porn. But because people aren’t going to want to have to buy a second device to view their porn on, and the people will have their porn, after the iHype wears off and other companies copy the good stuff without the bad stuff from Apple I believe we'll see the iPad join the Newton (does anyone remember the Newton?) on the storage shelf of archaic technology. Jobs’ vision of a pornography free internet isn’t just bad business, it’s laughably na├»ve – and long-term Apple investors should remember that.

Until they do, I'm pricing Android phones and waiting for the first non-Apple pads to come out. I can wait. Having children has taught me patience -- and that being first kid on the block to have a shiny new toy isn't the same thing as an adult making an investment in a data appliance.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wikipedia Censors Itself Using Fuzzy Justifications. Bad Wikipedia!

I find it fascinating just how sexually repressed some individuals are. That’s their business, of course, and in a free and democratic society we should all have the liberty to indulge in pretty much any kind of sex we like (excepting children and animals), including the right to have no kind of sex at all. That’s your prerogative, and it’s vital to our culture as we evolve away from the horrific repressions of the 19th century and before. If not explicitly stated, then the right to have your own sex life (and everyone has a sex life, even if they don’t have sex) is a core value of a liberal western democracy (which we are, despite the protests of a vocal few to the contrary).

But part and parcel with that right comes the free availability of information – even entertainment. With the internet, you wouldn’t think that would be a problem, especially when it comes to sex – it’s fracking everywhere. Certainly, it’s quite proper to want large portions of the internet to be child-friendly and devoid of overtly sexual material – I’m all in favor of that. Our children have the right to be children. That's why there's a booming industry in internet filtering software for schools, libraries, and computers to which a child might have access, and while they might not be 100% effective, they do a pretty good job of restricting the ability of kids to casually view objectionable content. But when it comes to the public square of information sources, say, a site that specializes in raw information about every conceivable subject like Wikipedia, then going out of your way to eliminate sexuality from your pages (as one of the founders attempted to do by purging thousands of “obscene” images from the site) you are betraying a fundamental principal.

Sex is part of human culture – all human culture – as natural and essential an aspect of life as sleeping and eating. Sex is always there, lurking as a motivator or an oppressive force or an historical role or a complicating factor or a victorious conclusion. And while I understand how certain desert-born mystics, religious monopolies and self-loathing individuals may protest or deny its importance, seeking to eliminate sex – or worse, confine the practice legally and culturally to ritualistic breeding bereft of higher meaning or purpose than procreation – is outrageous in our supposedly enlightened society.

The entire idea of pornography, erotica, sex-education materials and the like is to inform and entertain us. Like Jazz music, there is within Sex the room for both serious academic study and base entertainment. Seeking to further one at the expense of the other serves neither, and is intellectually dishonest. The fact is that pornography, be it a soap opera, a romance novel, or a hardcore POV anal movie, is entertainment as well as an expression of our culture’s collective sexuality.

The key dividing line between the two seems rooted, in some minds, in whether or not the piece in question (film, novel, picture, sculpture, what have you) serves only a “prurient interest” – that is, if it has no “redeeming artistic or educational value”. That is, by necessity, a subjective judgment call, or to famously quote a certain member of the judiciary, “I don’t know if I can define ‘pornography’, but I know it when I see it!”

In other words, the apparent standard for the determination of what is “prurient” and what is “educational or artistic” (the difference between “pornography” and “erotica”) is whether or not you can masturbate to it. And that, I think we can all agree, covers a LOT of territory. I know people who whack off to pictures of boots, for instance – does that make a boot catalog pornographic? If the stated goal of erotica is to stir the erotic imagination, and masturbation is a nearly universal end-result of a freshly-stirred erotic imagination, then does it not follow that what is “prurient” and what is “education or artistic” becomes so subjective that any attempt to make that classification is intellectually dishonest?

Often the argument comes back to “community standards”, but in the global village (doesn’t that sound just so 1996?) of the internet, our community is too broad and too diverse to evolve much of a standard. Indeed, with the near-universal exceptions of kiddie porn and bestiality (and even those are subject to “gray areas” in some jurisdictions) the internet’s “community standard” is pretty much Anything Goes! And since a very healthy chunk of total internet revenues come precisely from the porno realm, it’s pretty clear to most of us that a strong plurality, if not a vast majority, of folks who use the internet and make up its community are indeed expressing their desires when it comes to such fare. The internet is not a haven for prudes – so why should the corporate sponsors of the acknowledged (if inherently flawed) piece of idealism-in-action known as Wikipedia, which prides itself on both its freedom of information and its open-source philosophy, host a myriad of “pornographic” images? That’s not just “what the people want” – it was “the people” who put it there in the first place!

Let me be quite clear: I’m not advocating allowing illegal child pornography on Wikipedia or Wikimedia. Any images which would trip the GS 2257 law (“Child Protection Act”) should rightly be removed and the information associated with them be bumped over to the FBI. But as the law stands, that’s a pretty narrow and sometimes highly subjective call to make. Underwear ads have been deemed “child pornography” in the past. And graphic images, that is, images that were created without involving children, are not covered under 2257. The noble goal of the law was to protect children without impinging unnecessarily on the rights of the greater public. As sick and distasteful as such things as say 19th century watercolors of (currently) underage children engaging in sex are, they are not illegal – and moving from “illegal” to “distasteful” or “prurient” in the editorial scope of a public forum such as Wikipedia is a dangerous slope to navigate.

It’s all too easy in the minds of some, particularly those mentioned in the beginning of this post, to conflate the two to the point where homosexuality, consensual BDSM, or even interracial sex is considered “prurient” enough to be purged. This week it’s historic 19th century watercolors of children having sex with adults, next week it will be hardcore bondage clubs or swinging lifestyle photos, the next week 18th century Japanese woodcuts of lesbian sex, and eventually the desire to conform to “mainstream American” standards in the largest intellectual free-fire zone on the planet will sap it of all its vitality – and any remaining shred of respect in the minds of the vast masturbating public.

So why the purge over at Wikipedia? Is what many have come to regard as the one honest open-source platform for universal human knowledge going to arbitrarily decide which types of sex and pornography are going to “exist” in the encyclopedia-of-record? Or is it going to relent and embrace the 21st century notions of sexuality honestly, without the taint of 19th century-colored glasses?

I know which way I’m leaning.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Porn Parodies: A Recent History (Part 3 of 3)

Why are porn parodies so darn popular at the moment?

Likely because they present something familiar and comforting to us in trying economic times. Likely because we’ve been jaded by insta-porn and grainy webchat stroke sessions and want to be entertained while we masturbate every now and then. Likely because a higher percentage of women are welcoming some kind of porn into their marriages and relationships, and parodies are less threatening to them. Likely because husbands in America want their wives to watch porn with them and figure parodies are less threatening to their wives. And likely because there’s a whole untapped market of the show’s original fans who will make the porn parody of the show their first – but not last – porn purchase.

Parodies are fun. Fans can watch their favorite characters indulge in the fantasies they constructed for themselves around the original shows. Want to watch Bailey get balled on WKRP? See Scully and Mulder finally hook up on The X Files? Watch Genie give her Master a masterful screw? Watch Lucy take Ricky’s thick Cuban cock in her ass? See the Friends get friendly? Watch Elaine find a dude spongeworthy? All those secret fantasies come to life in porn parody.

Eventually, the cycle will turn and the impetus to make parodies will go back into the closet. Already there are parody “stretches” – including the Who’s Nailin’ Paylin franchise that blew the lid off of the genre most recently. (Sarah Palin is a public figure, after all, not a sit-com. No, really. She isn’t scripted. She doesn’t have a team of writers making up the stuff that comes out of her mouth. Really, I promise. I mean, she can’t, right?) As the “good ones” get taken by various studios, producers are reaching outside of the traditional parody box for material. Consider TMSleaze, a spoof of the celebrity gossip show, or This Ain’t Monday Night Football. (I mean, a sportscast? But it’s got cheerleaders, so I guess it’s okay . . .) They’re spoofing reality shows (This Ain’t Jersey Shore, This Ain’t Hell’s Kitchen, This Ain’t Ghost Hunters) and celebrity scandals (Tiger Woods, Letterman’s Nailin’ Palin) as well as movies and TV shows. And they’re even spoofing movies about people trying to make it big by making a porno parody (Kayden and Rocco Make A Porno).

But there is plenty of fertile territory left out there. Just yesterday I heard that a Gone With The Wind parody is in the works, and one that will make my brother happy, The Big Lebowski. Hustler is ambitiously attempting to make a 3-D Avatar parody. But that brings us to another aspect of this phenomenon: the possibility of “cult” parodies. While Star Trek and X-Files and Friends certainly had their cultish sides, there are plenty of parodies that would attract an instant audience of die-hard fans just for the novelty. The True Blood parody, Tru, was just released and is promising. Fans are dying (and resurrecting) to see the forthcoming Buffy The Vampire Slayer parody from New Sensations.

So how long will I have to wait for a Spartacus: Blood and Sandparody? I’ll even endure (and perhaps secretly enjoy but I’d never admit it) a couple of good openly gay gladiator scenes for the privilege. Hercules and Xena, Warrior Princess are ripe for the plucking, as are cult sci-fi classics like Alien and Blade Runner.

And when will I see a parody of Angel, or, better yet, Firefly/Serenity? It’s got a freaking whore in the cast and everyone looks yummy. There was someone getting laid on that ship nearly every week. I’m sure the loyal Browncoat community would buy it.

Wouldn’t you, guys?