Head To Head: Pornography!

larry flynt

(Editor’s note: Though we occasionally work blue at Head To Head, this week’s is worse than usual. You’ve been advised.)

This week’s Head To Head started, as more of them do than you’d expect, with a dick joke. To be exact, Joe’s proposition was: “If you watch porn that has really huge dicks in it, is that gay? Discuss.” That, ultimately, led to a serious (no, really) conversation about elements of porn that tend to remove the viewer from their desired experience. These could be shooting styles, acting cliches or any other genuine aesthetic choice that ruins the mood. So, this week, we’ll be taking a look at some of the ignobler moments in hardcore pornography.

We’d also like to concede that with porn as the subject matter, “Head to Head” acquires some unfortunate subtext. Does it make you, the noble reader, imagine some sort of David Duchovny-type character listlessly drifting, unhappy with his career and future prospects, from blowjob to blowjob? If so, that’s pretty fucked up. That’s a pretty specific image from only 3 words.

What’s the least appealing commonality in porn?

Joe Anderson
I believe there is a sort of Uncanny Valley principle in pornography. The original Uncanny Valley hypothesis states that the more robots replicate human appearances and behavior the more off-putting people will find said robots. In porn, a similar principle applies: I feel like there is point where dirty talk (or “erotic discussion,” if you will) can become so dirty that stops being sexual. A woman (or man, if that’s your thing) saying something playful as she undresses is appealing. A porn star yelling “I HOPE MY HUSBAND SMELLS YOUR SEED ALL OVER OUR SHEETS” is not. Because no one says that.

When this Hopefully-My-Husband-Smells-Your-Ejaculate moment occurs, you are hit with a reality check. Suddenly you are aware that what you are watching is these people’s livelihood. You realize there is a boom mic operator who is paid to stand frozen at an awkward position to better capture sound from a writhing mountain of flesh. Not to mention camera men, lighting specialists, teamsters, whatever. That’s not sexy. That’s not sexy at all.

Dominick Mayer

Like Joe, I find that the staunch maintenance of a comfortable fourth wall is essential to one’s enjoyment of their designated afternoon faptime. So, though the vocalizing of onscreen acts in prose so graphic it would make Chuck Palahniuk blush isn’t my thing, there are actually two things I find more bothersome. For one, there’s the direct-address porn. Whether POV or simply acknowledging the camera, it makes you as a viewer feel dirtier than you already do, because it’s like the actor and/or actress is like “Hey, you’re here too? Well…(voice drops in register) this’ll just be our dirty little secret.” Now you’re implicated, and that’s a precarious thing in pornography, because all of a sudden, bukkake appears out of nowhere, and now it’s like you’re right in there, which is a thing that few to no people ever want to be “right in there” during.

The other thing that’s bothersome is a new phenomenon. In the old days, the sidebar ads next to online porn videos would just be like “Ron Jeremy will show you how to make your cock huge!” or “CUM ON SLUTS WITH BRACES,” and you could disregard that by respectfully acknowledging that no man, even Mr. Jeremy, has that kind of power, and that the appeal of the latter ended when I stopped having braces. Now, however, there’s themed ads, which try to pull you in with the tantalizing promise of seeing your favorite pop cultural characters have sex. Now, porn stars posing as hot real people they kind of look like is an age-old tradition, but what I’m talking about is the re-animation of cartoon characters to be able to have explicit sex.

It’s very hard when you, after 20 minutes of single-handed searching, finally land on just the right video, only to then have the internet inundate you with images of Brian the dog from Family Guy filling Meg Griffin out like an application, or Smurfette in the most logic-defying gang bang you’ve ever seen. The worst are the Simpsons-themed ones, though, because much like the show itself, they’ve dug into the deeper character universe with these tawdry, single-framed Tijuana bibles. Sometimes, I just want to enjoy the unexpectedly acrobatic stylings of a Ms. Lisa Ann without discovering that Apu is hung like a moose.