F-Bombs and the pornocopia utopia
By Alisa Craddock
Back in 1983, I watched a made-for-TV movie called Svengali that paired a badly cast Peter O'Toole and Jody Foster. The story is about (in this updated version) a former rock star (O'Toole) who mentors a young singer (Foster) and falls in love with her. When he finally declares his feelings, and she responds in kind, they do…well…what always happens in the movies, they ‘consummate' their love. O'Toole, his long, marionette arms dangling expansively in the air as though on strings, says to her "When I make laahve to a woman, I unwrap her." The next thing we see is the two of them in bed, pyjamas buttoned up to their necks, lying flat on their backs making adolescent small talk and giggling like teen-agers. I laughed till my sides hurt. I'm not laughing anymore.
I've always figured someone was must have been acutely aware (or warned by the censors that were still doing their job at the time) that Jody looked just a little too young, and Pete just a bit too old for a love scene. It was downright incestuous, and so not only did they forego the love scene, they didn't even dare show them in a tender embrace in the aftermath, such was the awareness of the inappropriateness of their coupling.
The explosion of sex and violence and sexual violence on cable and now on network television has closely followed a rise in internet pornography. I don't believe this is a coincidence. Pornography is big business. Pornography rakes in more dough than all other internet business combined. The most disturbing aspect of the internet porn boom is that it is increasingly about child pornography (or the marketing of it using adults who look like kids). Concerned Women for America's Chief Counsel, Jan LaRue, writes that there is a profoundly disturbing trend among "ordinary guys" getting addicted to porn, and finding themselves being sucked into the terrible temptation of child pornography—men who never would have thought about sex with a child before, but are in increasing numbers arranging to act out their pornography-inspired fantasies:
But that is the trap of pornography. Like drug addiction, after a while the addict needs more and stronger drugs. With pornography, the addiction escalates when the ordinary images don't thrill as they did anymore. So the porn addict needs more intense imagery, more violent, more titillating, more dangerous, more perverse, to maintain the level of the thrill. And the salacious bottom of this barrel of filth is child pornography and, ultimately, human trafficking.
It isn't only adults who are becoming addicted, either. Children are being targeted, using such techniques as establishing domain names with a slight misspelling of the name of a toy or game company or setting up a link that uses the name of the toy itself. The methods used to snare the innocent or unwary web surfer are diabolical. I tried to go online to the Traditional Values Coalition website one time, and I put in ".com" instead of ".org", and up popped a porno site. Another time (when I was much less computer savvy) I typed "hotmail" into Lycos to help a patron set up a hotmail email account. It didn't look like the Microsoft page, but it said "Click here for your free Hotmail Email." I did, and what came up was an Asian porn site I couldn't get out of. Each time I clicked on the X to leave, it took me to a more disgusting site than the one before it. I was very embarrassed. I had to turn the computer off to get rid of it. I'm sure everyone who surfs the web has a similar horror story to tell. When children stumble onto one of these sites, or the site finds them, they are easily enticed because of their natural curiosity. Even adults admit that the images, when they are pop up, lewd and revolting though they are, yet they felt riveted, unable to look away. What it does to children's young minds is horrendous, but to give you an indication, sexual violence by kids is on the rise, and is increasingly linked to pornography addiction.
The government and the courts have not been very helpful in curbing the proliferation of internet pornography, especially during the Clinton years, and the damage done because of his neglect makes it all the more difficult to put the genie back in the bottle. It was during those years that the First Amendment was hijacked by the porno industry to shield nearly all of their activities. Prior to Clinton's presidency, according to one former Justice Department employee, the pursuit of internet pornographers breaking obscenity laws was ongoing and arrests, convictions, and punishments were frequent and severe. J. Robert Flores worked for the Justice Department under Presidents Bush (Sr.) and Clinton. In a 2000 article for Family Voice, he noted:
"In 1993, the United States began a staggering decline in obscenity prosecutions. During the Clinton administration's first six years, federal enforcement of obscenity violations plummeted more than 80 percent. In fiscal 1997, only six prosecutions included a lead charge of federal obscenity law violation. In 1998, those cases totaled only eight. Further, no prosecutions against major interstate distributors of hard-core porn have occurred for the past several years, according to a report by ‘Morality in Media', a New York-based decency organization."
Ironically, while Bill Clinton was backing off the pornography industry, citing First Amendment infringement as his reason, his Attorney General, Janet Reno who had pledged to take on the porn industry, was taking the network television executives to task for the increasing amount of violence on network programs, but there was apparently no mention of sexual content. So while pornography and smut are rotting people's brains, she's worried that Law and Order and Murder, She Wrote (which did not depict the actual murders) were talking too much about murder, and she began threatening to use legislative means to force the networks to clean up their acts if they didn't do so voluntarily. Though I agree that TV violence has a negative effect on children, it is clearly not the cause of the crime problem in our society, and unless combined with sex, is not the threat that sexual content is, though it does have a similar desensitizing effect. But if you want the real cause of the crime problem in America, look to absentee fathers. Over 70% of men in prison grew up without a dad. The connection is undeniable. But kids without a father at home, whose mothers may be working, who are perhaps left with the TV as babysitter are likely to be influenced by the "glamour" of power and excitement they see depicted on TV. Without a father's guiding hand, who is going to show them any different.
The allure of pornography is so much more intense, the potential for enslavement so much stronger. But one has to question, why would someone be determined to have a timeline for getting a rear-entry sex scene on network television? What is the agenda at work? Who has the most to gain from sexualizing children? I don't see how you can separate the porn industry from graphic sex education, abortion, and gay rights movements, which are all interconnected, and which all have a stake in the elimination of Judeo-Christian morality. Ironically, I think the original idea from which all of this sprang is that if you eliminate all the taboos, all the stigma, all the moral restraints, all the causes of social guilt, that people impose on one another, people would be happier, healthier, and more at peace with one another. Keep that in mind while you watch the slow destruction of our society as all succumb to some level of addiction to eroticism.
While the present administration has stepped up efforts to combat human trafficking, the root causes of the problem are allowed to flourish. It would not be terribly difficult to get it under control. Reassert the obscenity laws without resorting to loopholes like suggesting the F-word is only obscene if it is being used to describe the actual act. Reassert parental authority to teach children about sex. Defund SIECUS and disband the NEA, and return control of schools to local school districts and to parents. Allow parents to decide in committee what their children will be taught in school about sex, with full opt-out provisions for parents and students. Get the parents involved. Discipline or dismiss teachers who try to do an end run around parents. Instead of investing in sex education for kids, invest in child protection education for parents.
As for Hollywood, I'm not quite sure how to deal with them. A federal judge has just ruled that a company called Clean Flix that was editing sex, violence and foul language from movies to make them family-friendly, and selling them to consumers who want clean films constitutes a copyright violation, and…well, I believe that was the right decision. I deal with copyright laws every day. "Fair use" in copyright law is often as vague a term as "hostile environment" is in sexual harassment law, but like the old adage, "I can't define obscenity but I know it when I see it," I know the difference between fair use and blatant copyright assault when I see it. If I doctor my own copies of films to make them palatable, that's fair use. If I have a few friends over to watch my cleaned up film, it's fair use. If I reproduce and sell the doctored films, that's copyright infringement. That's a no-brainer. The social service argument was so subjective and legally lame, it was worthy of a liberal.
Nevertheless, I was totally sympathetic to what they were trying to do. The film and television industry has gone way overboard, to the point that it has become obvious there is an agenda at work, and it's not just about making money, apparently. With family films making far and away more money than films laden with lurid eroticism, sex, violence and filthy language, you'd think that would inspire the industry to create more wholesome entertainment. And yet they keep pushing the limits. And very, very often now, the target audience for the most prurient programming is adolescents. Why? When did Hollywood lose that sense of responsibility for which it was known in the Golden Years? Why did it start demonizing faith and morality? Why are they shoving this down people's throats? Why are they deliberately trying to titillate young people with perverted ideas about sex and relationships? "We're just giving the audience what they want," I hear them saying. "It's just business..."
Hmmm. To my ear that sounds an awful lot like "I was only following orders."
Alisa Craddock is a political columnist and activist in the culture war, a convert to Catholicism, and describes herself as a Christian Libertarian. In addition to Enter Stage Right, her columns have been published on Alain's Newsletter and Out2 News. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.