Pornography: The Joke’s On Us

Christy Wampole wrote a piece of thoughtful cultural analysis in the New York Times which takes a look at what it means to live in an Age of Irony.

While Wampole says nothing whatsoever about pornography, i couldn’t help but see a few points of connection between what she describes as Ironic Living and the world of pornography.

Or perhaps more precisely, the connection between Ironic Living and a cultural that is influenced and infected by the ethos and values of pornography.


i am not sure i agree with every conclusion Wampole reaches, but her thesis hits home.

In her description of what Ironic Living is, Wampole says:

As a function of fear and pre-emptive shame, ironic living bespeaks cultural numbness, resignation and defeat.

This is where pornography enters the picture. Pornography is the perfect entertainment form for anyone engaged in Ironic Living. Of course, pornography is not merely entertainment, despite what Hugh Hefner would want us to believe.  But it does have an entertainment function about it.  For those of us who are culturally numb, resigned and defeated, pornography serves as an escape and as a form of success or victory — however false they are.

Pornography also perpetuates the cultural numbness, resignation and defeat for which it pretends to provide an escape.

Many men choose porn over a real relationship with a woman, or turn their dating relationships quickly to sex because that is easier and less intimidating than Love.  One man recently said that to me exactly.  He’s afraid he won’t get love, or that love is actually just too difficult to achieve in his dating relationships, so he pushes immediately to make the relationship sexual.

That’s, as Wampole calls it, a “function of fear and preemptive shame,” and it is a byproduct of the way the Ironic Age shapes us.

Pornography is the most insincere form of entertainment there is.  And, of course, it’s much more than mere entertainment. Pornography is nothing like a real relationship; it’s nothing like actual love in a relationship. Pornography is the joke that we play along with, thinking we are sophisticated, cool or hip.  But in the end, the joke is on us.

It’s not real love. It’s not even real sex.



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