Why Do Porn Films Suck?

Petra Van Brabandt and Jesse Prinz

in Art and Pornography

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199609581
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191746260 | DOI:
Why Do Porn Films Suck?

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There are some striking similarities in medium, form, content, and emotional impact between canonical works of art and porn films. Nevertheless, the latter are rarely regarded as art. This chapter explains this ‘paradox of porn’ by arguing that porn films do not permit the taking of an aesthetic stance because they lack any aspiration to excellence in their effort to instantiate characteristic features of art. Market forces are likely to be blamed for this since pornographers, in order to make money, have to cater to the wishes and expectations of their target audience. Hence, they avoid creative risk-taking and opt instead for reliable tricks and formats that trigger without delay, surprise, or ambiguity the strong, simple emotional response of sexual arousal. According to this chapter, market forces also help to explain what one could label the second paradox of porn: the fact that very few art films have strong pornographic content, while one would expect this sort of content to fit perfectly with the common ambition of these films to evoke and explore human emotions and moral dilemmas in all their intensity and extremity.

Keywords: art film; transgression; x-rated; pink film; aesthetic stance; paradox of porn

Chapter.  12566 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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