I&I

Response: Lost Girls and fast porn

Following my posts about Alan Moore’s 25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom (here and here), I’ve still been thinking about porn and my thoughts turned to Moore’s pornographic work, Lost Girls. It seems the general consensus was that while the work was praise-worthy and provocative, no one found it much of a turn on.

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I’m going to switch gears and talk about food for a moment. Bear with me; I’ll return to Lost Girls shortly. Despite being born in N. America, its cuisine is one that I find I can rarely tolerate. While I grew up accustomed to its excess of sugars, salts and fats, I found that the older I became, the more I found the N. American palette to be harsh, unnatural and unpleasant. Desserts so sweet you could choke on them. Soups that taste like licking the side of a bouillon cube. Fried foods that seem to coat your mouth and throat with a persistent layer of grease. These are the flavours that are considered desirable in N. America, that set our mouths to salivation. There is nothing wrong with the tastes that we have been biologically designed to seek out. But after bludgeoning our taste buds senseless for years, is it any wonder that a shift toward a more balanced palette, one replete with richness and subtleties in flavour (not to mention nutrients), would be perceived as bland and restrictive, the gustatory equivalent of un-pleasure?

We live in a media environment saturated by fast food porn, a steady diet of which can be had by anyone with an internet connection. Porn where we pay no heed to the conditions that go into the production of what we consume; porn that delivers cheap, immature thrills and convenient, temporary jolts of pleasure; porn that is mass produced, engineered to be disposable and lacking in any creativity or quality. Much like fast food, fast porn can be fun but is sorely lacking.

Moore and Melinda Gebbie created Lost Girls partly in reaction to the declining quality of porn in the West. By no means tame and softcore, Lost Girls goes straight for the jugular, tackling sex on the margins of propriety, such as underage sex. But before you jump to any conclusions, Lost Girls avoids playing the shock factor card, choosing instead, a more complex, surreal and nuanced approach complimented by a gentle visual style. And for this, the response was utterly dry.

The impression I gather from the reviews is that Lost Girls itself was depicted as a work that’s not for titillation. It’s too cerebral and formalist, the pastiche style is offputting, the sexual acts depicted are too disturbing, etc. All valid reactions to be sure. But for myself, this raised a different question. Now that the bar on porn has fallen so low, have we become like the soda pop guzzling, candy bar craving teen who can no longer recognize sweetness unless it smacks him up in the face with a fistful of high fructose corn syrup? After having sex stripped down to its purely mechanical parts and then constantly shoved down our throats (mainly courtesy of the advertising industry where female sexuality is hijacked to hawk consumer goods), are we now unable to become aroused by anything subtle or complex or challenging?

As I’ve stated earlier, I have no interest in policing the boundaries of erotica, and I’m not going to take my analogy so far as to prescribe a pornographic version of what would constitute a healthy diet. But I think there is something to be said about not becoming completely desensitized when it comes to pornography, and to refuse to subscribe to the kind of narrow and mechanistic representations of sexuality that we find in fast porn. As we have all probably discovered by now, hard and fast alone will only take you so far.