History of pornography: scandalous beginning and habitual reality
It is highly likely that porn appeared on the early days of the human history. Researchers discovered rock paintings demonstrating coitus between ancient people together with petrogliphs showing hunting people. It is not clear if that was porn or not, but those drawings could not be considered erotic as they were done in a primitive and dirty manner. To tell the truth, little has considerably changed since that time, and people still can not tell the difference between pornography and erotica, to tell what is allowed for demonstration in public and what is not.
First documented porn pictures were printed in oriental manuals of sex, Kama Sutra was the most popular one among them. The Hindu feared that the paper works would not survive and decorated the temples of Kajuharo with bas-reliefs of numerous figurines of people having sex. Contemporaries need to be absolute virtuosos in case they want to make love using the positions that decorate the temple.
The word “porn” meaning “indecent pictures” or “depiction of whores” came from Greeks who painted such frescos on the walls of their brothels. In a word, such pictures were wonderful advertising of homes where women sold their love to Greeks for money.
Christianity prohibited depicting anything but saints within several centuries. But it is quite natural that the fact changed neither the quality nor the quantity of sex services. The art of porn flourished in the Renaissance. Rafael’s apprentice Julio Romano quarreled with Pope Clemens VII God knows why. In revenge, the artist painted an entire hall in the Vatican with porn frescos. The frescos gave rise to a terrible scandal that spread about the whole of Europe. Before the scandalous frescos were removed some crafty painters made gravures of them. It is known that gravures allow making as many copies as needed. And this is how porn spread about Europe as a result of the scandal. And the spreading was even more successful thanks to the technological progress.
At the end of the 18th century France was the leading country regarding the spread of porn pictures. Porn became an element of playing-cards, posters, post cards and so on. Today, the porn pictures of that time seem to be rather chaste. But to many people at that time those pictures were scandalous, and campaigns against porn pictures started in the 19th century. People caught spreading porn were brought to court and were obliged to pay fines. Many writers – Flaubert, Zola and Baudelaire – that are considered classical writers today were at that time brought to court on the charges of spreading elements of porn in their works. Today, their works are no revolt indeed, which proves that civilization has fixed stunning progress since that epoch. It was because of the same reason that books by Joyce, Henry Miller and Nabokov’s Lolita were declared as prohibited.
Any new technological achievement was placed at the service of porn. The first porn daguerreotype appeared in 1855, and the first porn film was made in a year after the Lumiere brothers invented cinema. That was the appearance of porn business.
The first film blamed for inciting animal passion in people was The Kiss that came out in 1896. Popular actors John C. Rice and May Irwin were kissing for three minutes! Film critics called the film ‘a demonstration of brutish lust that a civilized man can not bear”. But even despite of the criticism, the film was incredibly popular among the audience. In Moscow, the film was demonstrated on the big screen of the Metropol hotel, and a ticket cost 5 rubles, the sum equal to a weekly wage of a worker.
In 1968, porn was first legalized in Denmark while Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron and Apuleius’ The Golden Ass were strongly prohibited for their indecency. Then, M.C. van Hellen and Alex de Renzy made a film about the phenomenon of Scandinavian sex movies and demonstrated the new film in American cinemas. The film was a terrific success in the USA, and it is known that de Renzy still makes porn films in the US legally.
Since that time, the society no longer feels ashamed to reveal its interest in sex. Hugh Hefner started his business with printing pocket calendars with nude Marylyn Monroe on them then focused on the male magazine Playboy and made it a most respectable edition.
The year of 1972 was a breakthrough for the American cinematography. Producer Gerard Damiano made his film The Deep Throat about a woman complaining to her doctor that she felt no satisfaction when having sex. The doctor explained that the woman had her clitoris in the throat. The film has fifteen particular scenes of oral sex. It took the producer six days to make the film; he and the actors worked for pennies. The film made the whole of the team very popular. It is still the world marketing record with its costs and income ratio. That was also the opening of the Golden Era of Porn actively promoted by hippies. At that time, pornographers were reputed as dissidents fighting for the freedom of self-expression and helped the society be sexually educated. That was one of the few instances when the high aims brought really high incomes.
By the mid-1980s, the Golden Era of Porn came to naught. By that time, the most popular porn stars appeared in hundreds of porn films or even became porn directors and producers. By the mid-1990s, it was popular to invite fashion models to appear in porn films and use hi-technologies while making such films. On the threshold of the millennium a great number of porn films appeared thus making such films more or less official and consequently boring.
Today, pornography is legalized almost in all countries with the exception of Muslim states, India, China, the Catholic states of Latin America and Russia. In Russia there is still no exact definition of pornography and where only circulation of porn is considered criminal. In general, the porn business is getting more transparent and yields high dues to the budget. Up to 500 porn films are made in the USA every year, and the annual turnover of the legal porn business makes up from 4 to 6 billion of dollars. Big companies making porn films appropriate some $15,000-20,000 per a film. And it is clear that porn business is a really profitable business when making such films does not take much money and time.
Porn is getting a really respectable business . For over ten years already, the Adult Video News magazine presents awards for achievements in porn business. The ceremony takes place in Las Vegas every year in the period between The Golden Globe and Oscar ceremonies. It is some kind of Porn Oscar.
Pornography inevitably wins its part of our everyday life. Many companies have already circulated an official prohibition of surfing porn web sites in the office. Ten-year-old children are no longer interested in sex scenes on TV and switch channels for cartoons. Does our life begin to look more like pornography?
Translated by Maria Gousseva