Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tyger Drew-Honey on Porn

Having heard Tyger Drew-Honey (the oldest Outnumbered kid) interviewed on Radio 4 a few days ago about his new venture into documentary making, I had high expecttions for his take on Porn.  I'd learned that his father had been one of the major actors in British porn, before the internet put them all out of business.  Ben Dover, with his enormous genitals, featured heavily in the documentary and I think it was the reliance on people Tyger knew and the focus on himself, which made the documentary so disappointing.  A bit less Tyger and a bit more curiosity would have enhanced the result.

It was interesting, however, to see someone so comfortable with the idea of porn, masturbation and sex and also British, doing a bit of navel gazing in the face of the faint possibility that porn may not be entirely beneficial.  With slapstick moments, most of which didn't work, and initially gave a false impression of the documentary... although one or two raised a laugh in the Berry household.

Starting from the premise that the participants in porn were people exercising an informed choice, and in the form of one surgically enhanced actress, positively enjoying the filming of actual sex for the cameras, there was very little examination or even mention of the fact that among the porn on offer might be women exploited or coerced into participating.  It only arose during one dramatic interview with a woman who found the use of porn by an ex very disturbing as he used more and more extreme rape porn, some of which she suspected did not involve acting.

Although there was much discussion about the contrast between real sex and porn sex, there was very little examination of the difference that context may make to a real relationship.  Those who talk about love and commitment in any discussion about porn are assumed to be religious killjoys who disapprove of anyone enjoying sex outside marriage.  However, anyone who has had meaningless sex outside a relationship and sex within a committed relationship can tell you that context makes one hell of a difference to the quality and impact of a sexual encounter, and it is this which is missing in porn.

Some years ago when I read Nancy Friday's books on male and female fantasies, I realised that there was a general pattern to what she was being told:  while women had actual fantasies which were based upon their imagination, men often based their favourite fantasy on their first sexual experience.  In the course of my life I have also found it to be true that men have fixated upon their first sexual experience for both their ideal sexual encounter and their fetishes and fantasies.  This makes the rise of the young teenage porn user a worry for the future.  Not only is there a danger that they will make assumptions about the acceptability of the things they see on screen to a real life woman, but also the danger that they will be trained to prefer solitary sex in front of a laptop to actual sex with a woman.

There was some jokey research into the idea that people who are addicted to porn may be desensitized to it, and need more and more to be able to be excited - again in the absence of any thrill from real live people being involved... and some vox pop into the possibility that men have become more demanding about the range and type of sexual encounter they regard as normal, having been brought up with porn for information and suggested activities.

In the end, Tyger seemed to be reflecting on the idea that porn had informed his sex life in ways he hadn't considered, and he seemed genuinely moved by the woman with the abusive partner.  However, I was disassatisfied with the amount of time spent on jokes and interviewing his own parents as filler for a documentary which could have been so much more interesting with a bit more depth.  I think he is a likeable presenter who needs far more direction and help with structured writing to get the best out of a documentary format, and make the result more than superficial entertainment