Sj7g09's Blog

Archive for the ‘Media Analysis’ Category

I’ve been reading a lot on this particular development lately, or as much as I can without throwing down the computer in frustration. It’s partly the proposed legislation, but partly how complacent people are about their freedoms. UK government wants all internet pornography to have to be an opted into – from discussions I’ve read, many people are fine with this. “Well, just opt in”. But that’s not the point. It’s a slippery slope, blocking anything on the internet. Plus, why should I have to give my details – presumably seeing as the whole point is age restriction, this will require ID – to an ISP, who has every right to divulge that to a government that clearly has a very big problem with internet pornograpy?

I would also go further, that this isn’t just an issue of censorship. I’m 20 years old, I still remember what it was like to be a child, hopefully without all the “oh, it was so different in my day!” bullshit. I remember what it was like having the internet as a female child, living in a relatively restricted, repressive household. Firstly, I didn’t see internet pornography until I was 17 (still underage, may I add), and I was a prolific user of the internet – to the point that my parents threatened to throw out my computer, to many tears and shouts of “I hate you! You can’t take away my PC!” They were desperately worried for me, being of a generation that hasn’t grown up with the internet. They did everything right, all of the things that parents are directed to do, save for putting on an internet filter, which technically they had no need to do because the shame and social stigma was enough of a filter for me anyway. Shared computer, in a family room, in a position where the screen could be seen. All that did was change my sleep habits, which infuriated them even more. I’d stay up until 4 in the morning, then sleep all day. On school days, I’d get up insanely early to use the internet without any supervision. And none of this was for pornography. I was far too ashamed to look at pornography – I was a girl, afterall. It was partly that making the deliberate decision to search for pornography was too incriminating, too much of a clearcut choice to see something ‘bad’. So I’d try to search for things that weren’t porn, then follow links, attempting to get to something risque. I never stumbled across hardcore pornography as a child, ever. I would say that all the things that say that children inadvertantly see porn all the time have a very odd definition of porn, or fail to mention that the children were actually looking for it, or are users of torrent sites and other ‘shady’ areas of the net.

The statistics from this article astound me. 60% of 9 – 19 year olds have seen internet pornography. 19 year olds. Last time I was aware, 19 years old did not constitute a child. I realise that the age of adulthood seems to have shifted from being able to do at least some age restricted activities at 16 to 18 now, but 19 is by no means a child. By 19, you are free to look at pornography, or even be involved in the industry. Also, 60% really isn’t that much, and it doesn’t say whether it was voluntary exposure or involuntary. If it is involuntary, put a filter on your own computer, don’t filter mine.

I’d also like to share how I got around my no-porn household, seeing as pornography seems to be a new evil for children. What is so bad or harmful about seeing some pictures? As I’ve said, I’m a prolific user of the internet, and have been since I was 12 years old, and am a regular porn viewer now, and I have not ever seen any genuinely violent pornography. I’ve seen videos that are obviously acted, but even that is just a few slaps – nothing I haven’t done in my own life, and I think therefore I have a bit of a different understanding of it, seeing as I know that I can’t be the only woman in the world to enjoy this. I’ve never seen anything that could be seen as ‘snuff’ or other such moral panics, even by the most overactive, paranoid imagination. I realise that this will seem to send out the ‘wrong message’, but I feel it’s important to share the truth as it was for me. I’m not saying that this is what it’s like for everyone, but, as a kid, I wanted to see pornography. I knew literally nothing about sex – my parents never discussed it with me, and I basically didn’t go to school, so never had any sort of sex education. The first time I saw a condom was the first time I had sex.

Seeing as I couldn’t watch pornography because of all the shame and stigma and fear of being chastised by my parents (interesting that all the statistics in the studies about underage pornography viewing says that a high percentage feel embarrassed or ashamed, and worry about what their parents will say. That is not the fault of pornographic material, that is our outdated attitudes to sex), I instead used chatrooms. So when I was 12, I was speaking to men, ranging from saying that they were my own age, to in their 50s. Often these conversations weren’t overtly sexual, but talking to older men fulfilled my desire for an authority figure, and that was sexy enough for me. Submission has always done it for me. We pretend that children have no sexuality, but I’m willing to say that I most certainly did, and that I consented to having some dirty talks with older men on the internet when I was a  young teenager. I don’t know whether that would be considered a crime now – “grooming” perhaps, but, at the time, I wasn’t aware of this, seeing as I couldn’t imagine that something I was choosing to do could get someone else into trouble if I’d told anyone else. Fortunately I don’t tell my parents anything, so it was never an issue. I think it’s just outrage from parents at having someone incite sexuality in their child, their beautiful little belonging, when, in my case, it obviously wasn’t this at all. I was the unacceptable face of childhood, the sort of girl who is now branded as a myth in order to give out the right message. Of course I’m not saying that all children are the same as I was, but why do we take the stance that experimenting with sexuality in a safe environment, with pornographic images or a bit of dirty talk on the internet with someone you’ll never meet, is inherently harmful? I really don’t think it is. I wish that I’d seen pornography earlier than I did, because I would have had more knowledge about things earlier, and I would have had so many more years to work on my shame issues.

Obviously there’s no point in trying to argue any of this, because we’ve already decided as a collective conscience that young people don’t have a sexual thought until they’re 18, have no desire to view others having sex until they’re 18 even if they’re allowed to actually have sex themselves when they’re 16. And that obviously it should be criminal to take a picture of yourself having legal sex as a 16-year-old – you need the extra 2 years to make sure that you don’t regret the dirty, horrible, soul-destroying act.

But surely people can unite in saying that they don’t want our internet to be a short step away from the internet of China, or various Islamic states. If you start blocking something, saying people can opt in, how far away are you from just blocking things? This is a matter of preserving rights and freedoms. Why should people have to change how they live their lives in order to protect children, which you individually may not even have? I do not like children, I have no desire to have children, and I have absolutely no interest in protecting the spawn of people who can’t be bothered to learn how to use internet filters by throwing away my rights as an adult to view whatever I want.

This is one of the best, most informative videos I’ve seen on YouTube about pornography…

It really expresses the different sides to this, and I can’t help but see that those opposing pornography really are trying to take away freedoms from people who just want the right to continue with their career. It seems like instead of porn and pornographers trying to interfere with the lives of people who don’t want to watch porn, it is instead that people who don’t want to be involved with porn constantly interfering in the lives and careers of people who want to be left alone to do what they consider acceptable. It’s nice to have something that isn’t ridiculously one-sided, but instead shows both sides of the argument. Just seems to me that the pro-freedom side of the debate makes a lot more sense.

Posted on: January 29, 2010

“I am absolutely shocked by the level of violence in this game and am particularly concerned about how realistic the game itself looks. Whilst I appreciate that this game has been certified as an 18, I firmly believe that certain levels of violence should not be made into interactive entertainment. This would include acting as a terrorist, as is the case here, or violence against women. I will be raising this issue in Parliament on Monday.”

– Keith Vaz, Labour MP (yes, you heard right, Labour…..), on Modern Warfare 2

The sad thing is that many “feminists” will totally agree with his suggestion that violence towards women is something that should not be depicted. And, while that is their right, it is also the right of people who do not share this opinion to be listened to and taken seriously, and that’s not what’s happening at the moment. Has Mr Vaz never considered that actually many people will take much greater offence to his comment than to fictional depictions of violence towards women? I know that is certainly the case for me – I don’t need an MP to try to legislate to protect me by stopping nasty nasty things happening to fictional female characters in the media, who I must identify with because they are of my gender. Why is it different to show violence towards a woman than to show violence towards a man? To make this distinction between genders is inherently sexist, derogatory and degrading. You need to have the same level of violence towards everyone, regardless of gender, otherwise it’s basically a case of grouping women with animals and children as beings put below men by God who need to be protected because they don’t have the sufficient skills to look after themselves. Do we really want to be that society? I want to make it clear that I’m not suggested that all media violence should be banned in order to level the field – if anything, I would welcome more violence in the media seeing as our government doesn’t think our fragile brains can deal with it. It’s only ever the pro-censorship groups that ever get listened to by the media, I guess to appease the Daily Mail reading public – why is there a group like MediaWatch that is morally authoritarian, religious, and only reflects one viewpoint, and they have sway over policy?

It’s funny that the government seems to think that withholding violent/sexual material will make people conform to the ‘right’ way of behaving. I know that the most frustration, anger, upset, for me comes from looking on the internet and knowing that there are things that I can’t see – either that I can’t look at because of legality, or things that have been removed, things that just don’t exist or can’t be found. Today, while looking at all the parliamentary debates, I realised that the people who supposedly represent me have no better understanding of the issues than I do, and there is no one there that actually represents my opinion. It’s so frustrating to know I have absolutely no power, and therefore have to live by moral codes and laws that I fundamentally disagree with. I don’t think any amount of exposure to extreme pornography or horror films or violent videogames would make me as pent-up, angry and violent as knowing that I have no control, that I’m being forced to live, act, think and feel in certain ways in order to not be seen as deviant. It’s quite ironic really – the government is against the domination and degradation of women, but what about all the women who want to be free to make a choice about what they expose themselves to? I read a fantastic quote when researching NF713 – “You Brits lost your freedom such a long time ago, no one even notices anymore. You never had freedom of speech anyway. Even the US has lost it’s freedoms in it’s short lifetime. We are all screwed by sadistic bald guys, not the sexual ones in movies, just the real life politicians . . .”

Posted on: January 29, 2010

When checking my referrers for the day, I found a fantastic blog –  Not sure why it came up as one of my referrers (I’m still not absolutely certain what ‘referrers’ are even) because I’m pretty sure I won’t have been linked on there, but never mind.

It’s exposed me to a lot of things about censorship that I wouldn’t have thought about before, for example issues to do with drugs and video games, as I haven’t put so much of a focus on these aspects in my own work as I don’t know so much about them.

On the theme of drugs, I’d never really considered that there is one prevailing view on drugs that permeates society, and no other views are allowed, to the extent that is actually true. I can’t imagine that the government has a pro, or even neutral, body on drugs, only organisations against drugs, trying to prevent them. This view is in the media too – whenever celebrities, for example Joss Stone or Lily Allen, make a statement so outrageous to say that drugs might not kill you, that they don’t turn everyone who takes them into a prostitute, rapist or dealer, these anti-drug organisations say that they should not be allowed to put their opinion across, basically because it differs from their’s, and it might influence young people. I can kind of see the issue with influencing young people – yes, it might influence them, but I don’t think it would make people go out and take drugs, it might just give them a more reasonable view of drugs, that actually their schools are lying to them when they say that drugs are always bad, if you take them once you will become addicted, and you will die. No shadow of a doubt there, kids. There have been studies, you know…. Studies commissioned by an anti-drug government to produce findings that agree with their ideology, nicely proven by the fact that when the government’s chief drug advisor, Professor David Nutt, said that cannabis, ecstacy and LSD posed less threat than alcohol or cigarettes, he was asked to resign. If we can’t trust you to agree with us when we pay you to, we’ll find someone else who will.


Posted on: January 8, 2010

image by China Hamilton

One of the things that has made me the most angry in this investigation into current affairs in censorship is the ban on a film by artist China Hamilton, called “NF713”. It’s something I would be deeply interested in watching, and I do feel that it violates my personal and intellectual freedom to not be able to expose myself to this knowledge because the government feels that it’s inappropriate.

From what I’ve read, seeing as it’s impossible as of yet to find a copy to view, NF713 is a film designed as a sort of cross between “Closet Land” and “1984”, in which a woman is arrested, interrogated and tortured by a male representative of an unnamed state, using coercion, violence and physical, emotional and sexual degradation to make her confess to anti-State crimes. It conforms to the same sort of storyline as Closet Land, which was backed by Amnesty International and is an acclaimed film using well-known, reputable actors, but goes further in explicitly showing torture scenes. Despite it clearly being a political work, the BBFC chose to categorise it as a “sex work”, meaning that it was refused a classification and cannot be bought, sold, distributed, viewed, in the UK. The BBFC apparently chose to refuse classification because it shows sexual violence, and it could be seen as encouraging sexual violence. According to the BBFC, it lacks a story because most of the film shows the torture of the woman, and in much of the film she is naked(!) So it would seem that the message is that physical violence is ok in most circumstances – it becomes not ok if it’s enacted on a woman, particularly a naked woman, because then it’s sexual, and women must be protected from this sort of thing. It’s also interesting that a film like Closet Land can hint at violence, torture, degradation, without showing it, and that’s considered alright, whereas going a step further and showing these acts makes it unacceptable, even though surely a film like Closet Land sexualises and romanticises the themes more because none of the violence is ever seen explicitly. From the reception I’ve heard to Closet Land, a lot of people are turned on by the events shown – and most of these people are women. Does that then mean that those women who identify with the victim will go out and try to provoke someone to rape them? No one would ever say this because it would be seen as deeply misogynistic – so why is it alright to blindly assume that if a man watches something and identifies with a violent character they will attack a woman? It’s completely misandrist, and even moreso because no one even questions the validity of it – it’s just accepted that men, all men, are capable of this and can’t be trusted.

Much of the response to this film being banned is in agreement with the BBFC, with cries of “well, why would anyone want to watch anything like that anyway?!” That should never be a reason to destroy something from the public consciousness. It’s interesting that the government states that censorship laws won’t target art, political work, won’t limit peoples’ right to freedom of expression, but clearly the laws do all of these things, but no one has any inclination to stand up for these rights. People are all too willing to give away the rights that they don’t think they will want to use. This particular work was explicitly political, and made by an artist, but still it’s banned in the UK – is the unwritten stipulation that the UK government must appreciate and agree with the political statements or art in question for it to be able to be seen by the general public? That’s certainly what it seems like, seeing as there is no proof at all of there being a causal link between media violence and actual violence, yet the BBFC blanketly refuses to give classification to anything that expresses a view of sexual violence that isnt educational, or isn’t explicitly labelled as being consensual really – not in the literal sense that no one was harmed making it, but that in the fictional story, it must be labelled as a consensual BDSM scene or such like within the actual work.

I found it horrifying that the BBFC is often willing to classify male torture scenes. I suppose it makes sense really, seeing as there is so much constant yelling about material being degrading to women, whereas I can’t remember the last time I ever heard about something being considered degrading to men. And I think that that in itself is degrading in its own ways to both genders – mainstream feminism has created an environment in which women aren’t treated equally, they’re protected and mollycoddled and regulations have to bend to whatever might be offensive to women, or things that might supposedly harm women, because women can’t protect themselves. Alternatively, people seem to have such a terrible view of men that no portrayals of men are seen as offensive – any of it could be true. Either that or people think that it doesn’t matter with men because they’re the stronger gender, men aren’t going to dominate or abuse other men, and women aren’t strong enough to do it, so men are safe because they can look after themselves.

I think it’s time to clear the backlog of work I have and start spouting ideas in no particular order. It’s trying to maintain order that prevents me from working – I don’t know how to structure things, so I don’t do them. I want things to be coherent and in a sensible order, when actually I work much better just throwing out ideas in whatever order I think of them in, because they still link together even if they aren’t one after another. Writing about how and why I work or try to work also prevents me from working because I write all this, then think that it doesn’t make sense to write the actual ideas in the same post, so I publish the rambling, then scroll up and down my blog for hours before adding anything else.

Ok, so,  random ideas I’ve written in my notebook forever ago but haven’t done anything else with.

Out of boredom and curiousity, I bought “I know who killed me”, because I thought I’d heard it’d caused some sort of controversy because it’s an erotic thriller and has Lindsay Lohan, and because she once worked for Disney she will always be a child and must uphold those morals and values. I think me viewing this film is testiment to how I see the media as something to analyse and study rather than something enjoyable designed to entertain, and, by these standards, “I know who killed me” is actually very interesting.

Firstly, it describes itself as an “erotic thriller”, but never explains why. I assume that it bills itself as such mainly to grab attention, and that the “erotic” part refers to the main character being a poledancer, following mainstream eroticism rather than going into fetish. Alternatively, it could be seen that the more violent elements being enacted on the young, attractive female character are ‘erotic’ simply because they feature a sexually attractive woman, which I’m sure has caused fear of people being aroused by these elements instead of the acceptable objectification of the female character. It’s ok to be turned on by mainstream sexuality, by poledancing and the like, because only few people believe that that will have detrimental effects on real women, whereas it is heinous to be turned on by violence towards a woman because seemingly the majority are in agreement that this is likely to result in that person then enacting this violence on a real woman for sexual pleasure. Mainstream ‘morality’, in the form of forced ideology, dictates that the viewer should have strict codes on what they are allowed to feel aroused by, suppressing anything outside of those boundaries. To me, this is very much like ‘deviant’ sexual behaviour of the past that was ‘corrected’ using aversion therapy, through inflicting physical pain or sickness on the individual whenever they were aroused by the ‘deviant’ desire, except that now this goes through self-censorship – people are so ashamed of their sexuality, of fantasy, that they don’t need an outside entity to step in to ‘correct’ them, because they internalise the mainstream norms and values, meaning that they repress or deny these fantasies to themselves to protect their sense of self. What I liked about “I know who killed me” is that it doesn’t make these distinctions – possibly because censors didn’t see the possibility of people being aroused by the violence? I can’t imagine that censors would have allowed it to pass if it was thought that people may interpret the violence as sexual violence, but I do think it’s very possible that it could be seen as sexual violence. The film graphically shows the amputation of the female main character’s hand (I refer to her as the ‘female main character’ simply because many film critics have made a distinction between violence towards men and violence towards women, with the latter being considered sexual because of the victim’s gender), while she is restrained on a table, gagged and moaning. Could this be considered sexual violence by censor’s standards simply because of the victim’s gender and physical appearance? I assume not, or else I doubt very much the film would be watchable in the UK. So, what would cross over into sexual violence – if she was provocatively dressed, topless, naked? This is another factor in my belief that the naked body of an attractive female is always seen as sexual, whatever the context, seeing as what is being enacted upon it seems to pale in comparison to their physical appearance – the act could be completely non-sexual when applied to a male body, whereas it’s seen as sexually dangerous when applied to a woman. Personally, I find this view more dangerous and degrading than any depiction of anything being done to a woman – it attempts to protect women in a way that men are not protected, making a clear distinction between the capabilities of the genders, and even goes so far as to try to protect women from their own sexuality. Many women watch sexually violent material, so censoring such content to protect women amounts to saying that they aren’t intelligent to know their own minds, that they should know that it is dangerous and abhorrent – that it being taken away from them is for their own good – it’s taking away your rights, freedoms and independence to protect you.

Watching this film made me think of ‘Grotesque’, trying to look at the differences between the scenes in that where a woman is bound, gagged and tortured, and the scene in ‘I know who killed me’, in which a woman is bound, gagged and tortured – one is banned, one is freely available from highstreet shops. Obviously there are going to be many differences between them, but there are some that I believe would have had weight in the banning of ‘Grotesque’. Firstly, the violence in ‘Grotesque’ is considered sexual because it shows a sexual assault of the woman (and the man, but that’s a little off-topic here) – this is ‘sexual violence’ because it’s forced, but isn’t physically violent. It seems that physical violence is acceptable, but sexual violence is not – the BBFC refuses to categorise anything that depicts sexual violence, for fear that it will be seen as condoning or glorifying it, and that people will then go against their years of mainstream conditioning to sexually assault women. I think that if the context of “I know who killed me” was changed, to have the character gagged and restrained, but being sexually assaulted rather than physically assaulted, it would have been banned, even if particularly if she was shown as enjoying it, because this would supposedly confirm in mens’ minds that real women want to be raped. To me, this shows a deep misunderstanding and miscommunication of ideas – I think that many people are aroused by violence towards women, whether that is physical or sexual, because of the elements of dominance and submission involved, along with the knowledge that this is fake, a fantasy, that it’s something that hasn’t really hurt anyone, and therefore is ok to watch.

I also found it had interesting commentary on the objectification and fetishisation of women, focusing on particular bodyparts of the woman, placing importance on those aspects of their body and appearance. For example, the main character says: “fingers, leg, hand – gone. I practically fucking died.” While this can be taken in the literal sense that the removal of those bodyparts could physically cause death, there is the double meaning that without those bodyparts, a woman may as well be dead. It reminded me of something I read in “Bound & Gagged” by Lauren Kipnis, about Hustler (I think it was Hustler, it may have been another such magazine) publishing a joke that related to a news item at the time, of a public figure undergoing breast removal, and this causing more distress and offense to the public, being more unacceptable than another joke about the recent death of a space shuttle crew – the message being taken from that that breast removal for a woman is worse than death, that it’s less ok to joke about the removal of one body part from a woman than the deaths of numerous people. I try not to deny my own socialisation into norms and values – some of which I have fortunately missed, but others I am as much socialised into as anyone else. When watching the film, I did find myself thinking that the character may as well be dead once they had been physically mutilated – as a woman, how could she have any sort of life after that? This also shows boundaries between fantasy and reality, because of course in reality I wouldnt think this, because I know that real women have so much more to them than their looks, but in the media, women are presented according to their appearance, so it makes sense that I would place more value on that than any other aspect of their identity seeing as no other aspect of their identity is shown – why would I think that those other aspects existed in a fictional character if their creator hasn’t found it important enough to present them?

And so ends my musings on a film that was infinitely more fun to watch with a notebook and pen at the ready so as to deconstruct it.

A lot of my work is based around the media, but I don’t have a television at my home. I think this actually helps my work because whenever I visit my parents, I’m always in a state of shock and awe when exposed to mainstream media. It seems grotesque, horrifying and unnatural, but deeply captivating because of all of these traits.

Over this holiday, I’ve found it very difficult to watch any television without dissecting it through sociology and art, and this has caused me to watch a lot of things that I wouldn’t usually. For example, teleshopping. I love programmes like this just for the fact that they’re a platform for an individual to talk to a wide audience, and they’re basically trying to get across their views, allbeit on a certain product, to persuade the viewer that they want to behave in a certain way. It’s a fantastic expression of consumerism, capitalism, a sort of mild brainwashing. I know that my parents find it unreasonably difficult to watch teleshopping without buying at least one product featured, because the presenters are able to persuade them that they really need this object in their life. It gives a certain status to the object – it’s mesmerising, with the idea that it will improve quality of life, that it says something about the consumer’s identity.

It got me to thinking about using this impossibly upbeat method of persuasion and selling to advertise something unconventional, much like I considered in the past using fashion-style advertising to advertise the model rather than the product. One example of unusual product advertising was a teleshopping channel featuring a gun videogame controller, aimed towards parents to buy for their teenagers. I thought that the image of a clean-cut, cheerful teleshopping presenter brandishing a plastic gun, referring to it as a “beautiful rifle” was art in itself, particularly in a political climate where videogame guns are seen as one-step below real guns. This sort of hyperreal environment would be interesting to use as a platform for satire, advertising something violent, obscene or grotesque, as I think the general effect of programming like this is to lull people into a state of blind, unquestioning acceptance – would this change when confronted with something ‘offensive’?

In considering these issues in regard to the format of teleshopping, I considered how perhaps teleshopping could be linked to selling women – I later realised that this occurs, at least somewhat, through latenight channels showing topless women, who at times will talk directly to the viewer, much like in conventional teleshopping, but it also has interactive elements, with the aim of the programme being to make viewers call in to talk to the girls, particularly to ask them to perform certain actions. I like the idea of amalgamating the two formats, or adding some sort of satire to the ‘babestation’ sort of programming, although not to disparage it in any way, as I don’t believe that satire necessarily has to be a negative reflection on something – more a comment, showing interest in the subject, or even giving a critical commentary on criticism of it. I also think it might be interesting to try to put something so of ‘low-culture’ into a high art setting, perhaps painting a screenshot from a programme, as I think it’s the sort of subject that isn’t covered by art, and I’d like to go into issues of hyperreality, consumerism, identity, and politics of sexuality & gender.

  • fred whitacre jr: they don,t have any sex invaled why are we so againce children being nude in pictures because of alll the sick fucking rapetist out there children
  • fred whitacre jr: she only 12 but it is not porn at all it is nude only only a sick person would want to fuck her not me but i will tell you the true she is a very hot
  • fred whitacre jr: i see noghting wrong just a nude girl no porn that would be wrong with a child but not worng with a grown up only nude pics of children is ok if no se