Cleveland, Ohio, can proudly lay claim to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Museum of Cheese is Rome, New York’s, pride and joy. And what would Calvary, Georgia, be without its renowned Mule Museum? Wouldn’t it only be fair, then, that Chatsworth, Van Nuys, or Canoga Park, California, should someday proudly proclaim itself the Home of the Museum of Porn—or as it would more likely be named, The Free Speech Museum?
If I close my eyes and hyperventilate for a few minutes, I can just imagine it.
Over there, just past the diorama of Al Goldstein chewing on the skull of Ed Meese in the third ring of Dante’s inferno, is the museum’s latest exhibit, “You Did What With What?!?: Nastiness Over the Years” The early pieces seem almost quaint now, don’t they?
Candy Barr in Smart Aleck is practically suitable for the Disney Channel now. Deep Throat? It may have been a unique stunt back then, but nowadays a prom date isn’t complete until a girl has proven she’s mastered her gag reflex. Swedish Erotica loops, with their de rigueur scarves, stockings, and facials, were simply proof that Ray Kroc’s assembly line formula for making burgers could easily be applied to smut.
Speaking of facials, check out the life-size wax replica of Peter North performing one his legendary appliqués on Bunny Bleu. There was a time when that, too, was something of a shocker. And there were those who decried it as mistreatment of women. Then it became just another checklist requirement in the pornographer’s bag of dirty tricks.
Anal sex? Once it was a “specialty” act, soon it crept into more and more movies, then entire series were dedicated to buggery. And there were those who decried it as mistreatment of women. Now we have gapes and ATMs and spit-soaked scenes performed with such leering savagery that even proctologists and prison wardens have been known to wince. And there are those who decry it as mistreatment of women.
And Hell’s bells, it’s certainly their right to say so—and more importantly, their right not to watch it. Yes, porn sex has gotten rougher and less sanitary over the years, especially of late. But while we’re on that subject, BDSM has been around for a long, long time, folks, and much more goes on behind closed doors in that lifestyle than what can be shown legally on a DVD. The cruel vagaries of history kept de Sade from getting his hands on a camera, but if he ever had, his work would have made Khan Tusion look like Mr. Rogers by comparison.
So naturally I was agape (no pun intended) when I listened to someone from our own ranks declare at a webmaster forum that “representations of mistreatment” send the wrong message to viewers. Hmm. What kind of “wrong message” does that remind me of? The kind that violent video games gave the killers at Columbine? The kind that hip-hop gives suburban dumbshits who wear their pants around their knees? The kind that the Bible gives the bombers of abortion clinics? It all sounds so vaguely familiar.
And what about these “representations?” Isn’t “representation” another word for fiction, and isn’t fiction, well, free speech? That opens a very, very large can of worms for We the Vanguard of Freedom, doesn’t it? Did I miss the memo where an asterisk was added to the First Amendment? Because such a statement presumes a certain omniscience of what these “viewers” (read: consenting adults) want, need, and do behind closed doors. Worse, it presumes to know what’s better for them than they do—a power which I could have sworn we were fighting to keep the Christian right and the courts from imposing on all of us. Clearly, there’s a fine line between the ability to self-police and the Thought Police.
A tour through the Porn Museum of the future has taught us that what was once shocking will one day be grist for Vivid Video. Like it or not, time marches on. And the hysteria that this allegedly heinous content is now sending “the wrong message” to helpless viewers will either bring a new ice age to this industry thanks to the efforts of conservatives and the silence of consumers, or it could go the way of Tipper Gore’s panic over potty-mouthed music.
Atavism, on the other hand, is here to stay, and is as predictable as the pendulum of history.
Oh, and please don’t forget to visit Ye Olde Museum Gift Shoppe on the way out.