This piece was originally written for Fishnet about ten years ago. A few of the details of the porn industry formulas have changed since then, but it’s somewhat unnerving to realize how apt this piece still is. FYI, the videos here used to illustrate ticky-tacky porn here are not necessarily ones that I’ve seen. If I’m mistaken and one or more of them is actually an exception to the ticky-tacky standard, please accept my apologies. (The videos illustrating concepts of good porn are all ones that I’ve seen.)
*Little boxes, on the hillside
Little boxes, made of ticky-tacky
And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same…*
-Malvina Reynolds, “Little Boxes”
No, don’t worry. This isn’t a rant about why porn is sexist and oppressive and demeaning and generally a Bad Thing For Our Society. I like porn quite a bit. I whack off to it all the time. And I have a very squishy soft spot in my heart for video porn. Real actual people having real actual sex, right there in real life videotape in the privacy of your own living room — what could be bad?
But Lordy, Lordy, am I ever tired of the formula. I am so tired of flat stomachs and big fake boobs and long ratty bleached-and-permed hair. I am super-tired of pussies shaved into the Hitler moustache. And Christ on a crutch, I am so far beyond tired of cum shots that I could just plotz.
It’s not that I could never find any of these things arousing. I’m just tired of the repetition. I’m tired of seeing the same types of bodies and the same hairstyles and the same four or five sex acts over and over and over again. And I’m tired of what this repetition, this sameness, says to me about the porn industry.
You see, it seems to me as if the folks in the mainstream het porn industry are not really trying very hard to turn people on. They seem instead to be trying desperately hard not to turn people off. The decisions about what body types and hairstyles and sexual variations get put on video seem to be based, not on creating images that customers might find arousing, but on avoiding images that customers might not want to see. The very narrowness of the erotic vision speaks to me of marketing meetings, and lowest common denominators, and fear.
I have this mental image. Joe-Bob Jones in Bumblebrain, Idaho writes an irate letter to the Veryhot Porn Company about their recent release, “Suzie Sucks South Dakota.” The shot of Suzie with two dicks in her mouth has apparently put him right off his lunch. Those dicks were actually touching each other! he rants. What do they think he is, anyway; some sorta faggot? If he wanted faggot porn, he’d rent faggot porn. He’s never renting another Veryhot video again.
The marketing dudes at Veryhot are appalled. “We’ve lost a customer!” they shriek. “And you know there are a hundred more like him who didn’t bother to write! Send a memo to all personnel immediately — no more double-blow-job shots ever!”
A month later, Billy-Bob Baker in Deadwood, California writes an enraged letter about another Veryhot release, “Lust’s Labour’s Lost.” One of the girls, it seems, had a belly that was actually convex in shape. Ew! Fat chicks! He doesn’t wanna look at fat chicks. If he wanted to look at fat chicks, he’d rent a fat chick video…
…and a month later, they get an infuriated letter from Jim-Bob Harper, complaining about the scene in “Lovely Rita, Peter Maid,” where Rita put her finger up the guy’s butt…
…and then one of Veryhot’s competitors, Hothothot Video, releases “Blonde Supermodels With Big Plastic Tits, Part 1,” and the sales go through the roof (cutting directly into the sales of Veryhot’s own new release, “Brunette Supermodels With Small Natural Tits, Part 1”)…
…and then Veryhot does a sales analysis and realizes that “Crossfire 3” isn’t doing nearly as well as “Crossfire 2,” and they wonder if maybe the black guy on the box cover turned some people off…
…and the bandwidth just gets narrower and narrower, until eventually, Veryhot Video, along with Hothothot Video and Superhot Video and everyone else in the mainstream het porn business, is putting out the same damn movie over and over and over again. Sometimes they’re fucking in a ski resort, and sometimes they’re fucking on a park bench, and sometimes they’re fucking on Mars… but they’re all made out of ticky-tacky, and they all look just the same.
Gripe, gripe, gripe. I know, I’m just being another nattering nabob of negativity. Can’t I ever say anything nice about anyone? Accentuate the positive and all that?
Sure. Positivity coming right up. Here are some things I would like to see more of in porn movies:
Women with short hair.
People of color — both men and women.
Masculine women and effeminate men.
Wet pussies. (I’d think this one would be a no-brainer. Why on earth wouldn’t you want to see dampness and juice and lovely squishy slippery stuff oozing out of the woman’s cunt while she’s getting fucked? But I almost never do. Not on video, anyway. I guess Jim-Bob and his friends got grossed out by it or something.)
Lubed assholes. (This one truly makes me cringe. Every time I see some huge porno-dick pushing into some woman’s asshole with no visible means of lubrication, my poor little clit curls up in a fetal position and puts its hands over its eyes. I don’t think it’s violence against women or anything; I just don’t get it.)
Women fucking men up the butt.
Men sucking women’s strap-on dicks.
Cunnilingus scenes in which the cunnilinger isn’t just lapping away delicately at the cunnilingee with the tip of his/her tongue; or, to be crude about it, faces shoved right up into pussies.
Two guys/one girl scenes in which the guys don’t go through absurd circus-like contortions to avoid touching each other.
Orgies and puppy-piles, ditto.
Sex toys. Vibrators and butt toys especially.
Shots of people’s faces when they come.
Whole-body shots of the couple (or triple, or whatever) when they come.
Shots of the couple (or triple, etc.) coming in which the guy doesn’t pull out and shoot all over hell and gone when he comes. (I know, I’m living in a dream world. I’d like to see Ru Paul elected President, too.)
Shots of the women’s orgasm. Whether that means female ejaculation, or close-ups of her face, or even some very persuasive moaning and screaming, doesn’t matter to me. I just want to see the women come (or fake it convincingly, anyway).
Now, I realize that, with a little leg work, I can find fetish videos with any one of these variations. But I don’t want fetish videos. Well, alright, sometimes I do, but that’s not the point. The point is that I don’t see why sexual variation has to be fetishized. I don’t see why I should have to choose between an all-skinny and an all-fat cast, or between lily-white performers and racial fetishization.
And perhaps most importantly, I want to see more than one of these variations at a time. Sure, I can get a video featuring people of color… but they’re all going to be skinny and young with shaved pussies and no two guys touching each other. Sure, I can rent a bi video… but they’re all going to be skinny and young with shaved pussies and white as the driven snow. Sure, I can find a video showing women with pussy hair, but… you get the drift. The fetish videos (the ones I’ve seen, anyway) work by following the narrow-bandwidth formula in every area except for the one being fetishized. And that just looks like more ticky-tacky to me.
I know I’m exaggerating, and I know there are exceptions. I could even name you some. But I don’t think I’m exaggerating by much; and even the exceptions don’t stretch the envelope very far. Yeah, I might get to see a guy in a funny monster mask fucking a black woman, or a woman with short hair licking another woman’s butthole. But videos with the sort of exuberant, eclectic, polymorphous sort of sexual exploration that I’m talking about are very, very hard to find. (If you have any titles you can recommend, please please please let me know.)
I think what I’m getting at here is that I find variety, in and of itself, arousing. And when I say that I want to see more round bellies and more wet pussies and more guys getting it up the butt, I think what I’m really saying is that I want to see more variety, period. I want to see more of everything. I want porn that gives me new fantasies and new images and new ideas about fun stuff to try.
And I want the mainstream het porn industry to quit saturating the market with ritualized, rigidly circumscribed, formulaic, ticky-tacky sex in a box. It insults my intelligence — and it insults the intelligence of all porn customers. We deserve better.