Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pornography an area of legitimate study?

I had a TA last semester whose major area of study was pornography. Pornography? I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to study such a subject, and to be honest I didn’t even think there was much to be studied. To me it was just the male fantasy actualized. However, after reading The Pornographic Imagination, I see that it has similarities to other genres such as science fiction (Like Emily mentioned) as well as comedy.

“The familiar structure of comedy which features a character who is a still center in the midst of outrage crops up repeatedly in pornography….In much of comedy, the joke resides precisely in the disparity between the understated or anesthetized feeling and a large outrageous event. Pornography works in a similar fashion.”

I thought this quote in particular helped to shine a light on the similarities between pornography and comedy, which is seemingly the complete opposite from porn.
Also, previously I thought works of pornography were really shallow, unbelievable, and therefore low quality. The author however says “the emotional flatness of pornography” is actually required because “only in the absence of directly stated emotions can the reader of pornography find room for his own responses.” (Side note—I thought it was interesting how the author chose to use “he”)

The Pornographic Imagination makes me realize I was quick to judge my TA—though I doubt I will ever desire to study pornography, I can see that it is not as superficial or unintentionally empty as I thought.

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