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Proper Gander: Porn and Real Life

Proper Gander

For some reason, porn films don’t tend to get reviewed or discussed on the telly very often. This gap in the market was recently filled by The Golden Rules of Porn (More 4), a pornucopia of x-rated movies. In this show, Grace Dent and some talking head porn stars, comedians and viewers, give a knowing, tongue in cheek guide to pornos from the last forty years. The clips sourced from VHS tapes are so grainy that the editors at More 4 hardly needed to fuzz the genitalia out.

100 seminal porn films were surveyed, from Flesh Gordon to I’m Not Feeling Myself Tonight. Not-so vital statistics were gleaned from the films’ 573 sex scenes, including how many featured steamy shower scenarios (5 percent), whips (8 percent) and men with moustaches (more than half). 42.23 percent of chat-up lines involved puns and innuendos, although in real life an opening gambit based on fixing plumbing isn’t likely to have the same outcome as in a skin flick. And few people meet and ‘get it on’ as quickly as the 72 seconds of the average porno pair-up.

The programme highlights the gulf between porn and reality, but there’s also a gulf between how the programme describes porn and porn in real life. Porn is presented as something kitsch, made by enthusiastically happy stars whose sexploits have afforded them luxury pads with their own swimming pools. The other side of porn – how it exploits and cheapens those pushed into it – isn’t mentioned. Some statistics not cited by the show are that 37 percent of women in porn films were child victims of forced sex, 33 percent met the criteria for depression, 50 percent had lived in poverty within the last year (California Women’s Health Survey) and 88 percent of porn films feature physical aggression (US Department of Justice report, 2004). The long-term impact of pornography on its consumers was also ignored by the programme. The average age at which Americans first watch hardcore porn is 11 (internetsafety101.org), and this can lead to distorted views on self-esteem and relationships. The role which pornography has in society should be discussed more often, but not as trashy clip shows like The Golden Rules of Porn.

MIKE FOSTER