The mainstreaming of sleaze and porn has been going on for some time now. As is often the case, it involves little, gradual, and often unnoticed changes. But there is a cumulative effect. It is just like the familiar story of the frog in water. If you drop a frog in a container of boiling water, it will try to get out right away. But if you place it in a container of cool water, and gradually raise the temperature, it will not get out until it is too late.
That is where we are at as a culture. We are slowly lowering our standards, and slowly polluting everything and everyone with sex, sex and more sex. Sleaze and the porn culture are now ubiquitous and getting worse by the day. The trouble is, we have become desensitised to it all. It doesn’t disturb us much anymore, because of the slow but steady way it has become mainstream.
For example, have you noticed how almost all of our female newsreaders – as well as weather women and sports girls – on television these days have decided to expose their breasts to varying degrees while presenting the news? Up to a year or two ago, this was never seen on any newscast of note. Now it seems to be everywhere, certainly on the commercial stations. Why do we need all this cleavage to get our daily dose of the news?
I am aware that on cable television there is a program called “Naked News” or some such thing, in which females disrobe completely while reading the news. We seem to be gradually heading in that direction on free-to-air television.
Another recent television series, from Britain called “Braniac”, which was about science and entertainment for young males, featured scantily clad buxom females as the science experiments were being conducted. The show’s producer said this was meant to attract young people, because learning about science was important. I am not sure how much science young hormonally-charged males would be getting on such a show, but they certainly would be soaking up plenty of sleaze, and with it, a lesser view of women as a whole.
Do we really want to go down the path that says education has to be hotted-up to keep people’s attention? What next? Will we feature pole-dancers in our maths classes, dominatrixes in our psychology courses, or prostitutes teaching our history lessons?
Take another example. Consider just one day’s offerings from the Melbourne Age website. It is far more than just a website devoted to the news. Much of the site seems devoted to kinky sex, steamy celebrities, or sexual titillation. On June 27, 2007, there was the ‘featured video’: “Sexual fantasy and fetish”. There was also an item on the “sexiest vegetarians”. In its ‘most viewed articles’ section was this at number one: “Let me see Caroline’s breasts: Wood” and at number five was “Cold shoulder for aliens, but pole dancer stays”.
But wait, there’s more. There was an important section entitled ‘Trash Talk TV’ featuring this vital bit of information: “Pammy to open strip joints”. And listed as a major world headline was this: “Hilton out of jail: smiles for cameras”. And leading the ‘Video news’ section was this urgent item: “On the Milan catwalk”.
If this website of a major newspaper is not guilty of sexualising us silly, it is certainly guilty of dumbing us down. How many items on Pammy and Paris do we really need? And how many pictures and videos of these blond airheads with very little clothing must we have on a daily basis?
People might object that all these examples are no big deal, and that all this porn and sleaze is just harmless fun. But unfortunately it is not. This sexualising of our culture becomes a full-time occupation of our media, advertisers, entertainers, etc. And the problem is what is risque today becomes stale and boring tomorrow. So the ante has to be upped continuously, and things have to get even more sleazy, more shocking. Even more flesh has to be exposed, and even more crudity and vulgarity has to be employed.
It is a slippery slope that knows no end. And as those who have studied the effects of pornography know, porn and sleaze desensitise us. We get less and less kicks out of today’s offerings, so we demand even more hardcore stuff tomorrow.
In truth, soft-core porn leads to hardcore porn, just as the so-called soft drugs like marijuana so often lead to the harder drugs like heroin. I and my hippy friends went down exactly that drug route in my rebellious youth. And now as a society we in the West are heading down the same slippery path when it comes to sleaze and porn. The search for titillation, excitement and entertainment is never ending, and we constantly demand more explicit stuff to meet our needs.
Indeed, we have come a long way. The year I was born, 1953, was the year Playboy magazine was launched. It used to be sold in the seedy parts of town, and bought only by seedy customers. Now there are all sorts of programs about the “Girls of Playboy Mansion” or whatever on cable TV, along with “Girls Gone Wild” and numerous other sleazy shows which have now become mainstream.
I offer two recent headlines showing where all this stuff is heading. While we have sought to normalise, legitimise, and mainstream things like striptease and pole dancing, it is still a dark and seamy industry. An article in the May 20, 2007 Age read, “Strip clubs link to violence, drugs and underworld”.
The other headline, from the same day’s paper, said this: “Australian arrested in online child porn sting”. The article spoke of 63 people arrested in a worldwide raid on internet child porn users. Let me feature just two paragraphs from the story:
“The four Australians downloaded explicit material from the site, called ‘Kids the Light of Our Lives,’ which broadcast live videos of children and babies being raped. Thirty-one children and babies, including some who were repeatedly abused and filmed for the chat room, have since been rescued by police.”
“Assistant Commissioner Quaedvlieg said the images were as ‘graphic as you can imagine. They were images of the sexual exploitation of children ranging from the very young, under 12 months of age, right through to teenagers,’ he told reporters yesterday. He said the children came from all around the world.”
I am willing to wager big money that the people who are into ugly child pornography did not start out that way. They would have soaked up all the “harmless” stuff first. And of course as they grew tired of that, they went on to more hardcore thrills. That is the uniform testimony of those working in these areas: the police, counsellors, the FBI, and so on.
It is time we took serious the pornification of our culture, and the sleazing of society. Not everyone who partakes of this rubbish is going to go out and commit a sexual crime, but almost all people who commit sexual crimes have been deeply involved in sleaze and porn.
As Ben Shapiro concludes his important book, Porn Generation: we are “under attack from within. Temptation surrounds us: temptation to eroticism, temptation to hedonism, temptation to egoism. Most of all, we face the temptation of liberal tolerance, allowing immorality to grow like a cancer, disguising itself as a ‘new morality.’ The porn generation remains lost in this maelstrom of temptation, and they cannot see the consequences of giving in.”