Article Title:Scrutinising Gay Porn
Category:Safe Sex
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:3rd March 2006 - 12:00 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
Internet Archive link:https://web.archive.org/web/20170423044601/http://www.gaynz.com/articles/publish/25/article_1141.php
Story ID:1141
Text:During the eighties, there was considerable debate over feminism, LGBT rights, pornography and censorship. In New Zealand, we won. So what happened next? In New Zealand, the pornography debate has been over for some time. Women Against Pornography disbanded in 1994 when feminists realised that there were other priorities, while SPCS mouldered on, Pat Bartlett died, and film festivals found their schedules sabotaged. Unfortunately, those conservative anti-porn feminist tendencies resurfaced a decade later, making prostitution law reform here more fraught than it should have been. Meanwhile, overseas, British and American gay media studies academics have investigated that most wonderful of visual media genres, gay male pornography. (Genre refers to a particular identifiable form of visual media that has particular constituent elements related to setting (crime, westerns, SF and pornography), mood (comedy, horror, pornography) and format (musicals, pornography). Genres also tend to have stock devices and conventions that appeal to their audiences.) Richard Dyer is a veteran author in media studies circles, and undertook a frame by frame analysis of Inch by Inch (1985), set on a subway train, and involving Jim Pulver and Jeff Gage getting it on. He noted that the scene was coded as realistic due to the lighting and worn scenery that simulated a subway carriage, and how camera angles and proximity shots of the actors and their bodies conveyed the impression of cruising. When action arrived, camera angles and proximity shots then conveyed the intimacy of oral and anal sex, climaxing in the inevitable 'money shot' and ejaculation. According to Dyer, gay male porn has greater transparency, and lists a surprising number of products related to the production process, filming gay porn, auditioning, live show performance, celebrity collections and cinematic parodies. Ryan Idol and Jeff Stryker are mentioned as playing particular character types. Idol is particularly interesting, engaging in voyeurism, narcisstic self-absorption, exhibitionism and self-awareness. We arguably have a more intimate audience relationship to our erotic media than heterosexuals do. Or do we? Riche Comte and Angelo Restivo challenge that impression, as they look at the transnational scale of some contemporary gay porn productions. These tend to have stronger narratives and are set amidst identifiable locations. As for the chief actors, are they or aren't they, and are metropolitan western gay social identities affecting how homosexuality is perceived within societies such as Brazil, Venezuala and Eastern Europe? Kristen Bjorn puts in an appearance as an Anglo-American/Australian gay porn entrepreneur who retains control over marketing and distribution rights. Bjorn's internationalist gay porn has particular traits, such as language differences, missed performance pacing cues, attention to lighting and shot placement which pervade his work. After the eighties 'porn debate' here, gay porn is now treated as just another genre in visual media studies. It has a (loose) narrative sequence of events, with particular camera angles and proximity shots as well as set design, lighting and performance cues that lead to closeup shots of male genitalia, gay oral and anal sex, and a final ejaculation scene, with four or five such 'numbers' within an average porn DVD. It has its own star directors, actors and distribution networks. We enjoy widespread availability, due to the sacrifices and risks that OUT magazine took in the eighties to overcome censorship policy barriers. Admittedly, I do have one or two questions left. Given that porn has more or less become a standardised genre, why does it reportedly take so long to process it within our current censorship institutions? Should the Office of Film and Literature Classification have processing volume objectives to meet, so that it can cause minimal distribution and supply headaches to adult media distributors? I would've liked this question answered. Editor's addition 03MAR03: The Chief Censor responds: In this otherwise stimulating column Craig Young writes: "Admittedly, I do have one or two questions left. Given that porn has more or less become a standardised genre, why does it reportedly take so long to process it within our current censorship institutions? Should the Office of Film and Literature Classification have processing volume objectives to meet, so that it can cause minimal distribution and supply headaches to adult media distributors? I would've liked this question answered." We would have been happy to answer Mr Young's questions if he had asked us! The Classification Office does indeed have "processing volume objectives" that balance the needs of adult media distributors with our statutory obligation to examine and classify publications against specific statutory criteria. Our objective is to classify 90% of commercial publications within 25 working days of submission, or 30 working days if they require excisions. The average actual time taken to classify commercial sexually explicit gay videos and DVDs between 1 December 2005 and 28 February 2006 was 22 working days. No one complained to us about the time taken to classify this material. If this seems like a long a time to Mr Young, he should bear in mind that we classify a vast range of content conveyed by a wide variety of media that includes films, videos, DVDs, computer and console games, magazines and computer text and image files submitted by the Courts, Customs, Internal Affairs, the Police, and members of the public, in addition to the films, videos and DVDs submitted by film festivals and the commercial distributors of sexually explicit material. Yours sincerely W K Hastings Chief Censor of Film and Literature Recommended by Craig Young: Richard Dyer "Idol Thoughts" (p102-110) and Rich Comte and Angelo Restivo: "The World of All-Male Pornography" in Pamela Church Gibson (ed) More Dirty Looks: London: BFI: 2004. Definitely Not Recommended: Society for the Disruption of Film Festival Schedules: http://www.spcs.org.nz Craig Young - 3rd March 2006    
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