Thought Catalog

We Are The Porn Generation

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Even if you aren’t a teenage boy, I’ll bet that you were exposed to some pornography today. You can stop sweating; I’m not talking about erotic films (at least not necessarily). I mean the concept of pornography, at the simplest level. When broken down, what pornographic films do is take the most arousing parts of regular films (i.e. the sex scenes) and have those parts comprise the main content. In other words, it’s all meat and potatoes. We want the good stuff, and we don’t have time to eat the veggies. For example, a movie like Black Swan is a salad: lots of boring lettuce… with that Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis sex scene as the sprinkled bacon bits. The same concept applies to the actors: pornographic filmmakers understand their main demographic, and use actresses that will appeal most to that group. That’s why certain features in these women are either selected for in casting or exaggerated with surgery.

Now, think about where else the concept applies: where else do they isolate the meat and potatoes? Quite literally, it’s done at McDonald’s. Fast food is food porn. A trip to your local burger chain is masturbation for your taste buds. We love certain tastes; salt, sugar, protein – and that’s all you get in your greasy, brown paper bag. It starts with the burger: if a Big Mac were a movie, it would be rated ‘R.’ It’s also clear who the big star is: the patty. The lettuce is just an extra; it shares a trailer, stays out of the spotlight, and just makes the whole thing look pretty. When you’ve gotten your beef fix, you move on to the fries; the deep-fried, salt-covered potato sticks. Taste one and tell me there’s something in there that isn’t pushing your sodium meter off the charts. Wash the whole thing down with a jumbo fountain soda, sweetened with enough high-fructose corn syrup to make a 10-year-old pixie stick addict wince.

Now that we have the mouth covered, what about your brain? What turns on your cerebral cortex? Being an organ designed for cognitive processing, it must be information. Observation of the publishing industry’s history reveals how information distribution has evolved over time. Just like food providers selecting for the foods that are most stimulating, information pushers are cutting down their servings to only the good stuff. Non-fiction books were the initial attempt to spread information to a mass audience; they had all the benefits of word-of-mouth conversation, without the personal embellishment that resulted in a “broken telephone” effect. But books are long. Who has time to read? We don’t want the vegetables in our stir-fry, just give us the damn beef already! So what did our impatient, gluttonous society come up with to speed up the transaction of information? I know what you’re thinking: it’s magazines. Please, that’s soft-core; it still involves reading! If you want the real, quality book porn – there’s a website called TED.com. Not only has all reading been eliminated, but authors will present you the gist of their book in a condensed video of 20 minutes or less. The next logical step will have to be USB ports installed on our heads for transfers at 12 megabytes per second.

As for aural pleasure: if you’ve turned on a hit radio station in the past 15 years, you know exactly what music porn is (I don’t mean Barry White). Record company executives use focus groups to find what song elements give a tune mass appeal, and set up what has become an assembly line that begins with a good-looking teenage singer and ends with a song you can’t get out of your head for a month. They also take advantage of a concept familiar to psychologists: the more exposure we have to a certain song, the more we will like it – regardless of its quality. It’s a natural human tendency to confuse catchiness with fondness. The songs are composed so that they are tolerable enough for most people to keep their radios on the station, and catchy enough that the listeners will repeat them afterwards. The result is a flood of manufactured music – void of emotion and authenticity – that spreads like a contagion.

Unfortunately, the porn concept has even infiltrated the world of journalism. I’m not even talking about Fox News looking for the seductive, yet useless, piece about Barack Obama’s personal life to occupy an hour on their airwaves. I mean the trend in many online articles towards “Top 10s” and brief paragraphs surrounded by flashy pictures. I’m not upset that these ‘articles’ exist, I’m just pleading that we call it what it is; and that is not an ‘online newspaper.’ Simply put, it’s journalism porn. Follow a news conglomerate on Twitter to see the hardcore stuff; they keep stories to a skimpy 140 characters.

Just like actual pornography, there’s something out there for everyone. If sex scenes don’t stimulate you as much as violence does, there are plenty of action-packed movies being released every week full of fiery explosions for your pleasure. If you prefer fiction books to non-fiction, just wait a month after a book is released for the film adaptation. If you’re a vegetarian… Well, you’re shit out of luck.

Don’t get the wrong idea; it would be completely hypocritical of me to say that this movement is entirely bad. I love TED talks; they have the noble intention of spreading revolutionary ideas to a wide audience. I’m also a TV junkie, and I don’t read as much as I should. It’s the scary, negative consequences that worry me: Facebook as friendship porn, the commercialization of the music industry, and increasing use of stupid acronyms in conversation.

The good news is that the full, unadulterated means of conveyance are still out there if you look for them. Although their “pornographic” counterparts often overshadow them, there are still plenty of full-length books and articles being published. It appears that the most effective way to bypass the strict corporate filtration process is to simply do it yourself. With the help of the Internet, it’s never been easier to go about publishing your own article, e-book, or music for everyone to see. If you think there’s more to food than meat and potatoes, you can cook for yourself or find a local hipster restaurant with more diverse options. Corporations are not looking out for your best interests; they’re looking to make as much money as possible. They know exactly what to put out to get you that quick dopamine fix, and will readily sacrifice the product’s quality to do so.

Life appears to be a continuous quest to get the most possible pleasure out of every situation, but it’s really more complicated than that. You can go straight to the bedroom if you so choose, but I want some romance first. TC mark

image – Dr. Case

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    • Gmo Saza

      This.

      • Tgyvytfytf

        Meme.

        ______Is.

        ________Shit.

    • Ava

      I wish I could just tell my brain to want romance and vegetables. It’s a battle every day.

    • gator

      Well done 

    • Jennifer Wells

      Richard Star sounds suspiciously like a porn name…….

      • Richie Starr

        Dick Star is even better

    • http://twitter.com/CowboySandtoes Cowboy Santos

      so true. haaha

    • Amanta Snack

      Perfect that the ad I got after the article was American Apparel porn.  I nearly thought it was purposeful.

    • http://twitter.com/shineesherlock Josh (조쉬)

      ‘I mean the trend in many online articles towards “Top 10s”’  *glances threateningly at TC authors* 

      • beatrice

        Correction: *glances threateningly at Ryan O’Connell”. I remember reading a comment once that said that Ryan O’Connell was like the TC version of Kim Kardashian, never laughed harder.

    • http://kylelamar.com/ Kyle LaMar

      Books aren’t THAT long.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586876452 Arvin Alba

      I’ll play the devil’s advocate for a while.

      Nothing’s changed. People always liked pornography. Past generations liked it. Generations before, they just languish in wherever; lonely masturbation is their best friend. Now, corporations are pushing out all forms of these, simply because it has become economical for them to do so. People don’t like paying for pornography, you see, and now, because of the internet, people can have their daily dose for the price of free to very cheap and corporations still get their profits.

      Not really saying that I love how the state of affairs are going. It gets me depressed sometimes, seeing all these people glorify their perverse consumption of cheap entertainment. But this paints a sad picture of humanity in general, and not of our generation alone.

      • Richie Starr

        You’re absolutely right. Humans haven’t changed, but corporations have recently gotten far more efficient at getting the stuff out there. They’re more at fault than the consumers are for this trend.

        I’m trying to make people aware of this fact, and I encourage everyone to discover the joy of vegetables.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/ZachAmes macgyver51

      As a person who loves a good top-10 book list,  I’m now having an existential crisis.

    • Jay

      I skimmed this article.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1072327612 Ketsia Leste

      Thank you :)

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VYDVROKY4PUBOKUHB3QF42FH2Y Paul S

      I don’t understand porn. It’s like watching someone eating a nice meal, while I sit there starving.

      • T_courribet

        Try masturbating while watching it. It will help !

      • who's your daddy?

        I’ll be happy to explain:

        When you watch someone eat, you don’t get fed yourself.  On the other hand, when you masturbate to a pornographic film, you relieve yourself of sexual tension. Which is equivalent to being fed, albeit with low-quality food.

        No, the real point is whether you accomplish a biological goal associated with a desire. Whether you feed yourself. (With fast food you do, for the most part, although not healthily.) With masturbation you don’t procreate, you just make your procreation instinct shut up for a day or two.

        And here’s the big NEWS FLASH: When you have sex with another person with the use of contraceptives, you also fail to accomplish the biological goal, and just satisfy your immediate desire instead. (The desire, of course, was supposed to drive you to procreate, just like hunger drives you to feed your body.) So when you lie down with your girlfriend / spouse / random hook-up next time, just be aware, you’re engaging in a more sophisticated form of masturbation.

        (P.S., I’m not religious or anything, I just like to point out elementary faults in other peoples’ thinking.)

        • JoeW

          You make the “urge” shut up for a whole day or two?!

    • Tgyvytfytf

      ” But books are long. Who has time to read? We don’t want the vegetables in our stir-fry, just give us the damn beef already!”

      Stop yelling at me, I’m not your personal chef. Don’t shoot the messenger.

    • http://twitter.com/tubbo Tom

      I don’t know what rock you’ve been living under but the music industry has been commercialized for quite some time. There is also a massive underground music community that continues to thrive and always will. People still want their intellectual parts tickled. INTELLECTUAL PORN MAYBE??

    • http://waiverform.org/ Waiver Form

      No secret this generation wants it fast and easy. Lazy for the most part stuffing their faces with pizza, watching their backside get fat

    • justmy2cents

      here here, i whole heartedly agree with everything said. But id like to add one other concept that isnt new, or hip or the latest fad. Im sure its been described before by someone with a phd or doctorate, i just call it the “new love” syndrome. you know, that feeling you get when you first fall for someone (or in this case some”thing”) new and different, it takes over and seems to occupies every part of your concious and doesnt let go. To me, personally, that is what things like Facebook, Twitter, (myspace to a now lesser extent) and what ever else is out there now, has become to people today. I hear people many years my senior, ask everyday if im on facebook, or someother “social media” waste of time (I dont know because I have tried to completely seperate myself from it all. I cant even describe how sick I am of hearing “Like us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter” even on local advertising). Soon enough (not in my book) something else will roll out of someones brain that will give everyone another reason to open up every personal issue to complete strangers, and make friends with god only knows so that they will help you do who knows what on some game. Soon our kids wont even know what a real date is, whos got time for that when I can meet so and so on world of whatever, get married and everything…GRRR it just drives me batty!!!…But…I guess its just the world we live in, and Im not all that old, yes I did have to change the channels on my tv with a pair of pliars, had to actually wait for soup to cook on the stovetop, and even, god forbid, call home from a payphone! But at the ripe old age of 40 (a young 40 id have to say), Its all just a bit too much. Now dont get me wrong, I love computers (its how I make a living) and I love the world wide web (do they still even say that?) and I have to confess that I too love the fact that i can have any, and I mean any, question I can come up with, answered in just a few seconds with a quick search. But it has made for, and will continue to create, generations of people that will grow up thinking that if it cant be done instantly, without really having to put in any effort, and without all their”followers” knowing, then its wont be wotrth doing. I pity our future, and I guess all I can hope for is that I wont be around to see a bunch of dim witted, no sense of their own, gotta heve it now, world has to know all about me or im not worth a damn, peolple running our world…GOD HELP US ALL

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Kenny/100000778164044 Joe Kenny

      Things have changed old timers (40+ old farts on here typing 5 page responses). You can resist it or you can embrace it. It’s here to stay. 

    • guest

      you are an insanely talented writer.

    • Kima Fresh

      Well scribbled. 

    • dave

      Most of us have an attention span of 15 minutes… Previously it was bad so everyone used to try to meditate… but that needs some work as well… But no commercialization understands that… Human Beings are lazy… Lets give every a bit more of it… Everyone likes it…

    • http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2013/07/censorship-pornography-and-divine-swan-on-human-action/ Censorship, pornography and divine swan-on-human action | Practical Ethics

      […] an excellent essay Richard Starr points […]

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