Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by LuckyR » August 14th, 2015, 7:54 pm

I have to applaud Belinda for parsing (correctly) the difference between erotica and pornography. The common understanding of the first being much closer to the real meaning than the second. However, I thought I detected a bit of a perjorative tone in the discussion of pornography (as opposed to erotica). By strict definitions only a small percentage of what the masses call: "pornography" actually is. Not that this factoid has to matter much, but there you have it.

What a specific piece of art IS, is largely determined by it's audience, be they learned critics or the masses. The role of the art's makers in the art's production does not change what the art IS, but it can change dramatically the art's appreciation, especially among learned scholars/critics.
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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by UniversalAlien » August 15th, 2015, 3:27 am

Socialists, Communists, Nazis {National Socialists}, as well as governments controlled by religious fanatics decide for the people what is art - to them pornography and most erotica is not art and producing it or participating in its production was and still is prohibited - For them "The Inquisition" of the Church continues. Morals and the people must be strictly controlled - the state represents god and giving people freedom of expression is an opposition to god and can not be allowed. Witches and porno stars are still targets to be burned at the stake for heresy.

This nit-picking on the differences of what is erotica and what is pornography is like trying to chisel away at freedom of expression until it no longer exists - freedom becomes a dead lifeless statue - a poor work of art And let us remember we are talking about the art of film. What films qualify as art and what do not? Are you willing to be the censor who decides what is art and what is not art :?: When it comes to so-called pornography the courts mainly gave up {the exception may still be sex involving minors which is still deemed obscene and illegal}. If I am a film maker and I film a cat eating a mouse as a piece of documentary film art and do it with great skill and effort could you consider me to be a film artist? And if I film a sex act close-up, and in great detail and spend a lot of effort doing so could you also consider me to be a film artist? - a few of you obviously could not - You are against the freedom of expression even if the participants are not only willing but because of their psychology which may have a propensity towards an exhibitionist nature actually like participating in their ART :!: I have no doubt that the majority of the participants in the film erotica of today derive a great deal of enjoyment in their art.

Now, and since the moral issue has come up as to the possible harm caused by pornography, a comment is necessary. I have no doubt pornography may exert a harmful effect on some people - the price of freedom - but no one is forcing you to watch and if you think it is obscene {surely some is - but still this is often in the mind of the observer - and as I said the courts gave up on coming up with a universal definition of obscenity years ago} - Some susceptible individual is liable to watch a porn movie and then go out and engage in a sex act that he or she would not do - this may happen - again the price of freedom - And how about a psychologically unstable individual who starts posting on this forum, goes insane because of the mental overload and does something violent - again the price of freedom - Freedom is not security, it always entails risk - and sex, psychology, philosophy and life are that way.

The truth is people often engage in sex acts, and many varieties of sexuality. The only question of when it is art in film depends in how well it is depicted - like any film art, lighting, background, camera technique, the looks of the actors, and the skill of the photographer are rate-able as to its artistic merit. You who don't consider this to be art, don't watch it - And I can assure you that I won't watch trashy emotional soap operas which I consider to be the most meaningless of all entertainment arts and usually do not consider them to be art at all.

A long, long time ago when I was young and would go to the singles bars of the era I can remember a pop rock song that bands would end the night with at closing time. It went like this:

What's the dirtiest part of your body?...... What's the dirtiest part of your body?......
and then they would sing the answer: It's your mind,..... It's your mind,...... It's your mind....... :!:

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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by Belinda » August 15th, 2015, 5:11 am

Cheers Lucky.

My pejorative tone regarding the definition of pornography is intentional. 'Pornography' is a description that connotes as well as denotes, I am suggesting. By contrast 'erotica' denotes only. Of course, each of us is free to define each and every word as we please in a free country, unless we happen to be acting as lawyers or some other role where terms are authoritatively defined. I am trying to say that some erotica is damaging, state my reasons for saying so, and suggest that damaging erotica be named 'pornography'.

Universal Alien has written so that I think I'd better say a bit more about semiotics. Erotica of all qualities has only recently been easily available in our own homes without our having to go out and buy it from queer wee back street shops and brothels, or pay a lot of money for posh erotica. Therefore the discussion about erotica is so new that we cannot easily see what the genre means, apart from the exciting bits.

Please compare modern erotica with Hollywood films of the forties and fifties in which negro persons typically were servants, 'minstrels', blue collar criminals, kindly buffoons, or slaves. We took this type casting for granted. We know better now. Erotica is still to be processed through our wider understanding of what the narratives are not explicit about.
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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by Mark1955 » August 16th, 2015, 7:00 am

Belinda wrote:sound moral judgement
What is sound morale judgement?
Belinda wrote:My comment Failed ! was about the nature of failure, not particularly about sex. However sex is so important to most people that it's important that people don't feel themselves to be failures if they don't experience what porno actors appear to be experiencing.
But if we don't understand we've failed how will we ever change to get it right [whatever right is?]
Belinda wrote:Mark you do realise, don't you, that the semiotics incorporated in all art media signifies not only public prejudices but also reinforces them?
No I don't think I do.

Firstly I'd suggest the semiotics of a particular piece of work are those of the creator[s], whether conscious or sub-conscious. In some cases it seems quite clear to me that artists set out to challenge public prejudices rather than reinforce them.

Secondly I think the media must achieve certain goals to reinforce a prejudice, key of which is that the work must be believable as a real depiction. As an example I do not believe Tom and Jerry, so neither the violence nor the racial and/or sexual stereotypes portrayed there impact my prejudices, although I'm sure there are some people who will claim that they know that I'm wrong about this.

Finally I'd suggest that the subjective nature of semiotics means that the interpretation put on something says more about the viewer than the producer; hence all those authors who deny the book was ever about what 'popular theory' now claims it was about, or the way some works are re-interpretted in the light of changing social prejudice.

Of course what I've just written is arguably a form of art media, so it also stands or falls by these criteria.
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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by Belinda » August 16th, 2015, 1:51 pm

Mark, do you really mean to claim that unsophisticated and unsuspecting people might be prejudiced by attractive art works, whether or no this is the author's intention?

I just heard on telly this afternoon that the Germans during the war insinuated to British troops on the war front ,via cartoon illustrated leaflet, that American troops in Britain were seducing British girls. This was intentional propaganda. Racism, as propagated by some Hollywood productions was probably not intentional, but such was the great influence of Hollywood that negroes were not thought of as men and women of power.

Porn artists are probably not trying to propagate sexism or any of the illegal sexual activities but when children are viewing porn they understand the connotations of sexism and hyperbole and take them for gospel truth. This false perspective burdens kids to the effect that they take risks with their health and emotional well being.

Kids are obviously at risk from pornographers. Adults too become deluded. Semiotics influence insidiously .
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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by Mark1955 » August 17th, 2015, 3:00 pm

Belinda wrote:Mark, do you really mean to claim that unsophisticated and unsuspecting people might be prejudiced by attractive art works, whether or no this is the author's intention?
Yes and I also think it applies to sophisticated [whatever sophisticated is] and suspicious people; although the suspicious might reduce the impact.
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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by LuckyR » August 18th, 2015, 2:25 pm

Belinda wrote:Cheers Lucky.

My pejorative tone regarding the definition of pornography is intentional. 'Pornography' is a description that connotes as well as denotes, I am suggesting. By contrast 'erotica' denotes only. Of course, each of us is free to define each and every word as we please in a free country, unless we happen to be acting as lawyers or some other role where terms are authoritatively defined. I am trying to say that some erotica is damaging, state my reasons for saying so, and suggest that damaging erotica be named 'pornography'.

Universal Alien has written so that I think I'd better say a bit more about semiotics. Erotica of all qualities has only recently been easily available in our own homes without our having to go out and buy it from queer wee back street shops and brothels, or pay a lot of money for posh erotica. Therefore the discussion about erotica is so new that we cannot easily see what the genre means, apart from the exciting bits.

Please compare modern erotica with Hollywood films of the forties and fifties in which negro persons typically were servants, 'minstrels', blue collar criminals, kindly buffoons, or slaves. We took this type casting for granted. We know better now. Erotica is still to be processed through our wider understanding of what the narratives are not explicit about.
Well, art imitates life. I could see a 40s or 50s discussion whereby a producer could argue: "isn't it true that negros were slaves at the time the movie was set? Aren't plenty of current servants negros? Aren't many blue collar criminals negros? What's wrong with casting negros in those roles?" The problem was NOT the depiction of blacks in those roles, it was the lack of scripts describing the Modern black experience (with blacks in THOSE roles).

The parallel of what I just described to the position of erotica and yes, even pornography as a subset, is also instructive.
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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by Belinda » August 18th, 2015, 3:11 pm

Lucky wrote:
Well, art imitates life. I could see a 40s or 50s discussion whereby a producer could argue: "isn't it true that negros were slaves at the time the movie was set? Aren't plenty of current servants negros? Aren't many blue collar criminals negros? What's wrong with casting negros in those roles?" The problem was NOT the depiction of blacks in those roles, it was the lack of scripts describing the Modern black experience (with blacks in THOSE roles).

The parallel of what I just described to the position of erotica and yes, even pornography as a subset, is also instructive.
That is a good point. However, the depiction of negroes in power roles would have to form part of the same script. Similarly with a porn scripts; it would have its teeth drawn if it was about real human beings not commodities.
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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by LuckyR » August 18th, 2015, 3:40 pm

Belinda wrote:Lucky wrote:
Well, art imitates life. I could see a 40s or 50s discussion whereby a producer could argue: "isn't it true that negros were slaves at the time the movie was set? Aren't plenty of current servants negros? Aren't many blue collar criminals negros? What's wrong with casting negros in those roles?" The problem was NOT the depiction of blacks in those roles, it was the lack of scripts describing the Modern black experience (with blacks in THOSE roles).

The parallel of what I just described to the position of erotica and yes, even pornography as a subset, is also instructive.
That is a good point. However, the depiction of negroes in power roles would have to form part of the same script. Similarly with a porn scripts; it would have its teeth drawn if it was about real human beings not commodities.
There exist movies about the realities of the sex trade, realisitc sex lives of routine citizens and fanciful erotica with a lot of "artiness" and less physicality. These movies do exist, true they were not commercial successes and their number is extremely paltry compared to the ocean of routine "porn".

I guess to me, if a movie is 90 minutes long, you are investing something real in watching that movie. It had better have something to give back for the investment. Pure physicality just doesn't cut it. OTOH, a REAL feature length movie with gratuitous sex thrown in for some summer box office receipts is almost no one's idea of "porn" and shouldn't be part of the discussion. In the internet era, my guess is the length of the average "porn" video (they used to be "movies") has probably shrunk dramatically. Thus quoting Supreme court transcripts from the pre-internet era is a bit out of place.

It would probably help if there was a new label for internet fodder to distinguish it from pre-internet "movies". Can you tell I'm old?
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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by Belinda » August 19th, 2015, 4:44 am

LuckyR wrote:
Thus quoting Supreme court transcripts from the pre-internet era is a bit out of place.
The justification for illustrating the semiotics of erotica by illustrations from old Hollywood is that the implicit assumptions of both are significantly similar. The assumption of old Hollywood that negroes are powerless was demonstrated by films that , quite probably quite unwittingly, showed negroes in subservient or otherwise powerless roles. Those roles portrayed negroes as stereotypes of the powerless. Those film plays were box office successes and most of us did not realise at the time of their releases for public performance that they were so biased.

Similarly with erotica productions. The scripts and roles for inferior erotica portray the protagonists as commodities not real, rounded out characters. Erotica is at least as influential as old Hollywood movies, it's more emotionally gripping anyway, and if anything the characters of erotica are less well drawn than the negro characters in many old time movies. This is why the 'porn' label is sometimes allotted to material which is not erotica at all, but is false portrayals of the human. The label of 'pornography' for bad erotica is a label worth keeping.

LuckyR, you wrote earlier that I'd said that there was a difference between erotica and pornography. That is not quite correct. Pornography is erotica, pornography has an erotic effect so it clearly falls under that label of erotica.

Erotica is not bad because it's exciting. Pornography is not bad because it's exciting. Pornography is bad because there are lies about people hidden away amid the exciting material.
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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by LuckyR » August 19th, 2015, 12:33 pm

Belinda wrote:LuckyR wrote:
Thus quoting Supreme court transcripts from the pre-internet era is a bit out of place.
The justification for illustrating the semiotics of erotica by illustrations from old Hollywood is that the implicit assumptions of both are significantly similar. The assumption of old Hollywood that negroes are powerless was demonstrated by films that , quite probably quite unwittingly, showed negroes in subservient or otherwise powerless roles. Those roles portrayed negroes as stereotypes of the powerless. Those film plays were box office successes and most of us did not realise at the time of their releases for public performance that they were so biased.

Similarly with erotica productions. The scripts and roles for inferior erotica portray the protagonists as commodities not real, rounded out characters. Erotica is at least as influential as old Hollywood movies, it's more emotionally gripping anyway, and if anything the characters of erotica are less well drawn than the negro characters in many old time movies. This is why the 'porn' label is sometimes allotted to material which is not erotica at all, but is false portrayals of the human. The label of 'pornography' for bad erotica is a label worth keeping.

LuckyR, you wrote earlier that I'd said that there was a difference between erotica and pornography. That is not quite correct. Pornography is erotica, pornography has an erotic effect so it clearly falls under that label of erotica.

Erotica is not bad because it's exciting. Pornography is not bad because it's exciting. Pornography is bad because there are lies about people hidden away amid the exciting material.
Again, I applaud you for so eloquently highlighting the issue of the portrayals in porn as a major theme (especially since mainstream discourse is typically hung up on the erotic and fetishistic aspects of the genre, not to mention the sexism etc). The feminists likely would co-opt your argument such that just about any female depiction is inherantly negative, but I digress.

And just as I mentioned that the real crime of old Hollywood depictions was not the single film reality that a maid very well could be black, rather the industry-wide dearth of realistic leading roles for blacks, the problem you describe cannot be attacked nor defended based on single films but require a broader view.

As to my original comment on erotica vs pornography, I left out some background. Namely that (I think we agree) that pornography is a subset of erotica, that is all porn is erotica but not all erotica is porn. I like strict and practical definitions and pornography, by definition is media about the trade of prostitution, specifically. However, that is not practical in Modern usage and I think your substituting sexual fodder for "prostitute" is quite appropriate.
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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by Val Valiant Five » August 19th, 2015, 5:11 pm

"A deafening silence enveloped the theatre and the red glow faded turning deep purple, as if sucking the colour straight from the plush couches. The succuba suddenly dropped low, her fingertips pressing into pearlite, sinister tail sliding back. Her fierce, fiery eyes fixating front-and-centre - Her teeth parted slightly, and an ominous, drawn-out hiss issued from her throat. Many spectators gasped, sinking into their seats, holding their partners close. Thophalia and the goddess were no different, each within the others arms; Pearls touching toga, the goddess's lips touching his slight shoulder. This would have been the most sexually exciting moment of Tho's life, if it wasn't for the fetish lilitu crouching like a tigress on the stage before them." -Succuba Acidium, Third chapter, Steel eye staring

I've been chewing on this post for some time as I wanted to word it just right, as to titillate, as well as gesticulate in-form-and-descriptor. And so I opened with this titbit from my own writings, to hopefully give some weight to my reasoning to follow... I see the pornography of today, in all it's 3 minute clips and categorized kink, as a perfunctory release. As that is what pronograghy is for, isn't it? It is functional, and it feels good, and that is pretty much it. I stress it feels good - not great. For me, the word 'great' is reserved for erotica, in all it's forms and functions. And by 'erotica', I mean this: Does the sexuality being presented make me use my imagination? If so, it's erotica to me, if not it's porn. Porn is a functional stimulation of my lustful mind, reactionary to hormones that will build-up over time and when I am feeling most healthy, it (pornography) becomes a means to a happy end, as it is made for this. Que applause, move on.

Erotica challenges my mind, and it's intellectually engaging when it's done right. It's a ground-breaking film like Preaching to the Perverted or even a funny-as-hell one like Orgasmo. It's timeless sex, frozen in time, like the celluloids of Betty Page or the extreme mind of the artist that was The Legend of Leigh Bowery. It's creative in it's bent, it's deep in the Story of O (Thank you author Anne Desclos under the pen name Pauline Réag). Erotica is heated thinking, imagining and being creative in my mischievous mind, it's adding the immense girth of art and art-form to the functionality of porn. It's a serge from directions other then that functional, 3 minute clip.

Now if it sounds like I am bashing porn, I mush agree with both sides of the coin when it comes to the pros-and-cons of it. When done right, with safe-words in place, porn is great stuff. When done wrong, porn destroys lives. .. And thinking on this; I think honest, no-nonsense education from an early age is the key to the problems created by porn in our far-too-modern world.

I want to end this with my feet firmly planted in the camp of promoting quality erotica. For me, it wins my interest by default... I feel the need to clarify that erotica is not the same-as, equal-to, or greater-than porn for my reasons given above in also necessity. Does Pornography qualify as art? No, but* erotica for me is an ultimate form of art.

*see all the above.

Oh, and for those all those potential erotic creators out there: If what your are creating gets your pulse racing, you are doing it right. :twisted:
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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by Belinda » August 19th, 2015, 6:35 pm

LuckyR, I did briefly wonder if pornographers, the actors and the producers, are comparable to people selling actual sexual encounters.

Some people choose to be sex workers even when they have other options. Their clients obviously don't mind paying for sex. This is a straightforward contract. If brothels were legal, charged clients proper fees, and were regulated like other professional services the workers would be better off which as tax payers they should be. So the sex industry at its best is not actually prostitution.

Prostituting of sex workers happens when the workers are coerced by poverty, traffickers or pimps. Then the workers have to pretend to be emotionally engaged in the sexual encounter which they cannot be as long as their work conditions are bad.

I think that there is little likelihood that the small numbers of clients who buy sex has any impact on public awareness of what real sex is like. This is a different state of affairs from pornography which, since every child now has free internet access, has a huge influence upon ideas about reality.
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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by LuckyR » August 19th, 2015, 9:30 pm

Reading the above I just wanted to make sure that I clearly stated that pornography is not the act of prostitution but is media depicting the act of prostitution. I agree though that this definition is archaic and your definition is more practical.
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Re: Does Pornography Qualify as Art?

Post by Belinda » August 20th, 2015, 3:17 am

LuckyR wrote:Reading the above I just wanted to make sure that I clearly stated that pornography is not the act of prostitution but is media depicting the act of prostitution. I agree though that this definition is archaic and your definition is more practical.
Noted, LuckyR :)
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