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December 18, 2011

If I Were Commissioner of Pornography





The Commissioner's Hall of Fame: Landis, Rozelle, Gordon... Muggins?

Some time back, Amanda Marcotte over at Slate posted a startling rumination entitled “Lady Problems: If Larry Flynt, Hugh Hefner, and Bob Guccione Hadn’t Had Personal Issues with Women, Would Today’s Porn Be Less Awful?”

Ms. Marcotte posits that these spawners of Hustler, Playboy, and Penthouse respectively—along with that Fourth Horseman of the Raunchpocalypse, Al Goldstein of Screw—established the market and set the tone for today’s online porn industry and its pervasive eye-level-ejaculating, triple-orifice-cramming, unpleasant-name-calling degradation of women. She further argues that said degradation was by no means accidental, and bolsters her case with a laundry list of the Founding Fathers’ incidents of stalking, harassment, slander, and verbal abuse, not to mention sundry acts of condescension (the last being Hef’s specialty).

I’ll refrain from expanding on the piece further apart from noting that it is well written and well argued. A quick glance through the inevitably male-dominated comments section leads me to suspect that Ms. Marcotte has had quite enough feedback already from my ilk. Suffice it to say that she laments that Paradise Lost, that narrow window of time when heterosexual men and women of the Sixties might have sat down together at the proverbial table of Siblinghood and concocted a porn that they could enjoy together, even though reliable research has shown that the porn which heterosexual women tend to enjoy is either (a) phenomenally boring to heterosexual men, or (b) gay.

And anyway, my fascination with the article has less to do with its thesis than with the title’s striking what-if premise. I’ve always been a sucker for fiction that takes place in alternative worlds. What if the Nazis had won the Big One? What if the modern Jewish homeland had been established in Alaska instead of Israel? What if Scarlett Johansson had taken even more graphic naked pictures of herself—and still failed to securely hide them? (I’ll leave it to readers to judge which Point of Deviation would have had the most dire impact on the current world economy.)

But getting back to the Marcotte article: It presupposes that four periodical publishers functioned as de facto co-commissioners of pornography during the formative years of what grew up to become today’s Modern Smut. This, in turn, begs the mind-boggling question: What if the lawless, amorphous sprawl that is Modern Pornography could be brought under the heel of one omnipotent poobah? What if there really were a Commissioner of Smut, armed with the sort of broad legislative, executive, and judicial powers that are entrusted to Commissioners in other spheres when things get egregiously effed up—c.f. the case of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis emerging as, in effect, the Dictator of major league baseball in the wake of the Black Sox scandal.

And what if that Smut Dictator were me? Aye, there’s the nub of it. Where would pornography (Heterosexual Division only, I mean) head with me at the helm? Let me give you a preview of my first 100 Days. I would enact this 7-point program and enforce it with gusto:

1. Natural breasts only.

No more harmful message is being conveyed to tween girls of the Free World these days than the notion that they can never expect to succeed in porn without implants. Well, apart from every single word that comes out of Miley Cyrus’s mouth, that is. As Commissioner of Smut, I would insist on personally inspecting any bosoms of suspicious composition for authentification.

2. No more free sites.

Gary swayed me on this point during our recent online chat. The pirate sites are parasites—there’s a good pun in there wriggling to get free, but I’m too tired to dig it out—and they are eating away at porn as voraciously as this lady right here is eating away at Ashlynn Brooke. Some will cry “hypocrite!” being as I have outed myself as a frequent user of such sites, notably Asian Porn Movies. However, as Commissioner, I will automatically have every heterosexual porn site on the planet wired directly into my cerebral cortex, so clearly my stand on this issue is not hypocrisy but mere grandiosity.

3. No more automatic renewals.

This is an essential corollary to doing away with the free sites. Under my rule, no porn site would be allowed to charge your credit card on a quarterly or monthly basis without getting your explicit approval. There would be an obligatory “Would you like another month of downloading rights on ‘My Sadistic Japanese Teacher’?” and if you responded in the affirmative, there would be a follow-up message that would be all, like, “No, seriously, dude, think about it: It’s $39.95, and have you really milked all the pleasure out of last month’s downloads yet? Bet you haven’t even made it to the end of that 55-minute locker-room opus, have you? And you could take the long-suffering missus out to that medium-priced Italian place with that money instead. Think about it,” and only if you responded in the affirmative again would your account be renewed. In the Muggins Administration, that is.

4. No more penetration scenes that go on and on and on, for heaven’s sake.

You know the type of shot I mean: The extreme closeup of the Frankfurter Express chugging in and out of Furburger Tunnel as the male lead’s steroid-ravaged nutsack slaps against his costar’s striated taint to the merry rhythm of “Stars and Stripes Forever”—both verses and choruses.

The up-and-coming generation of porn viewers—and I’ll cheerfully claim credit for that pun, accidental though it was—can only scratch their heads with their free hands at what their elders must have been thinking. Are we actually turned on by these scenes? Is porn governed by gynecologists?

The answer to the first question is a clear-cut no. As to the second one, I’m pretty sure that that one’s a negatory, too. I mean, think about it: If you were a gynecologist, would you unwind from a hard day of peering into huge, gaping vaginas by cuing up videos of huge, gaping vaginas? It would be like a Welsh coal miner watching How Green Was My Valley every evening. There is simply no justification for those shots in this day and age.*

5. A tax on ejaculating-upon-faces scenes

For every scene that culminates with an ejaculation upon a lady’s face, the offending studio must also film and release a scene in which the man ejaculates upon a major appliance. There are two good reasons for this: (1) A whole generation of young men has come of age fervently convinced that most women like to conclude an act of sexual congress with a refreshing spritz of steamy, gamey jism on their faces, though there is pretty solid data out there indicating that this is actually not the case, and (2) really, what’s the point of being an omnipotent ruler if you can’t fart out a totally capricious dictate now and then?

6. Regardless of what they ejaculate upon, male performers cannot speak while ejaculating.

We shall be lenient here. We shall not demand total silence from male performers during their orgasms. The traditional “Unnnnhhh” and “Arrrgghhh!” will still be permitted, and even “Aaaiiiiieeeeee!” is acceptable if you are a supervillain plunging to your death while ejaculating.

But for the sixty seconds immediately preceding ejaculation, the ejaculation itself, and the sixty seconds immediately following, no discernable words may be uttered on penalty of castration. This goes double for the notorious “I’m droppin’ loads!” guy**: No longer will he be able to say, “Unnnnhhh, I’m droppin’ loads on yer face!” or “Unnnnhhh, I’m droppin’ loads on yer ass!” or “Unnnnhhh, I’m droppin’ loads on my student!” etc.—or at least, not truthfully.

An exception would be made for those alternative scenes mandated by Rule 5 above, so that “Unnnnhhh, I’m droppin’ loads on yer Tivo!” would still be in play.

7. Summary execution of any actor who subjects us to more than 20 seconds of watching him apply furious friction upon himself, as if in some misguided attempt to start a campfire, while his costar kneels in front of him, patiently awaiting her gooey fate.

This one, I think, requires no explanation. Some will say a 20-seconds-or-death decree only puts added pressure on men already laboring under enormous stressors. I say, what are we paying these guys for? (Assuming that is, that we don’t indulge in free sites.) I mean, you can talk smack all day long about the “I’m droppin’ loads” guy, but at least he never has any problem, you know, droppin’his loads.

* * *

The above seven-step program is only the beginning, of course. Fairly early in my commissionership, I would have to announce policies on condom use and STD testing, among other contentious issues. But these matters, along with the middle-class tax cut, will have to wait for the new year.

* * *

Presumably this is my last post for 2011, an utterly miserable year here in Japan. If I may pause to reflect—and I may, since it’s my site—it was not altogether a bad year for me, personally. My new ebook went on sale in January and a free collection of early posts from this site was put forth in October. Lots of you folks have snapped up the latter, and visits to this site saw an enormous increase over 2010. Actual sales of actual books, however, slumped.

Come on, people! Still five more shopping days till Christmas! Buy Wussie for that special Kindle-having doofus in your life. You’ll feel so much better, and so will he.




* But those youngsters may want to know the origin of the “penetration close-up,” so let me set this down before I follow Chris Hitchens into the Great Unknown.

You see, once upon a time there was a thing known as “soft-core” pornography. When I was a wee lad, this often took the form of pseudo-documentaries about human sexuality produced in Sweden. A wonderful Vietnam vet who married one of my older cousins used to smuggle me into the drive-in to see some of these masterpieces when I was in my mid-teens. He had an unfortunate habit of providing running commentary on the action, empathy-shattering dollops of wisdom like “That’s fake—they’re just dry-humping right there.” But one forgave him since one would still be at one’s aunt’s house inhaling the farts of grandparents instead of staring at wobbling Teutonic bosoms if not for this heroic personage.

So hard-core pornographers developed the convention of the brief up-close penetration scene to pre-empt jaded nay-sayers like my cousin-in-law. “Oh, well, hey,” such know-it-alls would have to admit, “I guess they’re really doing it, all right!”

What remains murky is how or why what began as a quick establishing shot gradually morphed into a minutes-spanning scene in its own right. If anyone else out there knows the answer and, like me, has way to much time on his hands, please do let us know.



** Not that double castration is really doable. But don't tell "I'm droppin' loads" guy, okay?