Despite the overwhelming ‘choice’ of contemporary pornography, certain aspects present in earlier porn are generally forbidden in the mainstream (though they may appear separately as a ‘kink’). These include body hair for women and increasingly for men; physical unfitness (especially for women), and physical ineptitude of any kind. Even those forms of porn that attempt to naturalise its expression, and I’m thinking here of sites like Abby Winters, which shoots in natural light girls without make-up in a particularly intimate way stress the physical superiority of their subjects – it’s all jumping up and down and turning cartwheels. One of the crucial differences between vintage and contemporary porn is the repeated presence of physical failure in the former, and particularly the inability of men to keep it up or to regain their virility fast enough. These physical factors are woven into the plots, such as they are, of some early porn films, lending an air of Beckettian comedy to proceedings. As the appropriately-named Gertrud Koch puts it: ‘we cannot assume that these comic aspects of old porn movies are merely an effect of historical distance.’ Though our retrospective gaze will perhaps add a layer of nostalgia, not least for the poor quality of the footage, we should not imagine that due to some sort of spurious contemporary wisdom about what porn ‘really is’, we are in any position to feel fondly about earlier kinds of erotic material.
Friday, December 14, 2007
money shots then and now
Infinite Thought posts her recent paper on the history of cinematic pornography, of which this is an excerpt: