Visual culture, pornography and censorship APAFT

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late seventeenth or eighteenth century a period that historians now term the ‘consumer revolution’

Hogarth is one artist who exemplifies this shift in consumption

Thomas Rowlandson, whose successful explicit satirical prints are suggestive of a new, more broadly based market in pornography.

Tis successful ‘sex effect’ can also be seen in popular books, music videos, and TV soaps and films, where sex, like violence, is used to heighten the presence of the associated product in the mind of the consumer.

The need to make products stand out in a crown market by using sex inevitably erodes those cultural constraints once imposed and maintained by religion.

What was once enacted only furtively, in private, between consenting adults, behind closed doors, can now be seen – perhaps not explicitly – in many movies, books, magazines, and still without restriction on the internet. Music videos, and now the internet have accelerated this erosion of what were once the ‘acceptable’ boundaries fixed by religion and its moral sanctions.

This can be seen most clearly when we compare, for example, how violence and sex are now treated in our society. For vilence, was traditionally recognised to be a moral evil equivalent to ‘fornication’ which was described as a serious offence to ‘god and man’ many times in the bible.

Graphically hacking a woman or child to pieces with a sword might earn a ‘MA’ classification fro a film, while explicit love making will earn it the dubious and confusing ‘adult only’ classification – suggesting to the young that sex is in fact still a sin, whilst killing is just an unavoidable part of life.

These are mostly a legacy of the hot house atmosphere of denial and suppression that clouded sicussions of sexuality in the nineteenth century, but are still tenaciously drawn upon to justify censorship and even prosecution.

sexploitation of consumerism – wether to utilise its imagery, shock its complacency, or simply to try and be more truthful about the still buried roles of sex in our life.

This double game is constantly legitimised and reinforced in our popular culture – images of sensuality, and sexuality, are routinely exploited for profit, but individual expressions of sexuality are routinely denigrated, catorgrised as ‘unmanly’ or perverse, or concealed for ‘under the counter sale’.

Crocker, Robert. Visual culture, pornography and censorship [online]. Artlink, v.18, no.3, Sept 1998: 6-8. Availability: ISSN: 0727-1239. [cited 09 Mar 11].

via Informit – Artlink – Fulltext – Visual culture, pornography and censorship APAFT.

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