Porn and the Problem of Pixelated People

Porn is a great thing. It does things to us that not many of us would—in the real world—have had done to us. It makes us happy. It makes us forget reality. It makes us soak in the moment, experience every bit of sensual pleasure thrown our way, like a piece of hot bacon. We jump and scream to get a piece of porn. There’s a sense in modern America that if one doesn’t think about sex for a second, one might get erectile dysfunction before finishing the reading of this text.

Porn allows us all to get a piece of the pie—the hooker from the TV has now come to your bedroom…for free! Wow. It’s like a gift of God; it’s the redeeming atonement of Jesus Christ. With porn, we get to have things our way, and our way only. We digest porn like we digest bacon. For a while we even fall into the illusion that what porn is offering us is truly real. The pussy of porn is probably tangible—like the Virgin Madonna. We get lulled into its mysticism as if we’re monks chanting Augustinian hymns to God. Ah, I could probably rant about porn for endless miles. I bet all men (and some women) could too. Porn is one of those ubiquitous things on which all of us have an opinion. Whether it’s BDSM or soft porn, we all have some opinion on the pressing issue. The Christians seem to hate porn. But even their jihad is somewhat ironic—as it is well-known that porn use increases in hotel rooms during Christian conferences. Apparently, Christian men have penises too. No surprise there. At least not for me.

I don’t like porn. And I happen to be a male. I like women, and I find women, well, very attractive. I’m like a caveman’s compass needle struggling with every molecule in me to point North. I’m the needle and the women are—you guessed it—my North Pole. Even Santa Claus himself didn’t see this one coming, so I give you permission to be amazed.

Hell, why am I not in favor of porn? Am I one of the guys who’s got something to lose? Have I purchased stocks in an anti-porn company? Not really. I dislike porn for several reasons. In fact, I have existential issues with porn.

Porn has a problem with people. You see, people don’t really exist in the porn world. Through the porn-washed eyes of porn, mankind (sic) loses its ability to see actual people. People as human beings are annihilated and completely annulled in the world of porn, according to the Laws of Porn. What one gets instead is this image, this fragmentary relic of an image, of a complex human being. One sees nothing but her vagina. Her breasts. Her eyes. Her hair. One can almost smell her. What one cannot do is experience and engage her as a human being. One takes away from her the very thing that makes her her. One takes away from the human being his/her humanity. One cancels out the human. Porn allows you to do that. It forces you to do that. It trains you to do that. It molds you into an anti-human person. It makes you the Antichrist. Through the eyes of porn, one can only objectify the Other. You end up seeing her for who she really is not. There is no “being” in porn. Existence is non-existent in porn. There is nothing. The Other is not really in a state of being. The Other is completely wiped out in the act of holocaust. The Other is not. What you get is an empirical fragment, a pornographic image, of the Other. You don’t know anything about the Other. All you “know” is the color of her vagina. Your knowledge ends there. You’ve reduced her to a color. Her existence hinges upon the fact that she is red or pink or blue or pale or…

With the women in the porn industry, there’s really no such thing as a mutual relationship. There’s no such thing as equality. The women of porn are not really relating to anybody. You, the viewer alone, relate to her. You look at the pixels which take the form of a woman. You gaze at her private regions and she seems exposed to you. She has bared her soul to you. Oh, if pussies had souls! You wonder why it has taken so long for her to come to this moment, this special moment. It has taken her an entire fifteen seconds to bare herself before your analytical eyes. You feel as if a lifetime had passed. You fantasize about her. (You call the pixels her.) You entertain all kinds of things about these pixels. You endow them with emotions. Like the God of the Bible, you breathe life into these pixels. You call them to action. “And it was good,” you tell yourself. You imagine that these pixels do all that you tell them to do. These pixels dance before your eyes without ever flickering. You are in awe in front of them. You fabricate some sexual story and set these pixels to motion. And, boy, do they move! You then command these pixels to obey your every wish. There are no laws here. Porn needs none. You command these pixels to become mute before you. You toss them every which way.

And five minutes later the chapter ends. The pixels fade out.

You lose. What you thought was a girl was no more than just movement on a screen.

As Chris Hedges remarked in Empire of Illusion, “Porn is about reducing women to corpses. It is about necrophilia.”[1] Porn is a display of an object—a dead one at best.

What you thought had a soul was nothing but the reflection of your own soul—and a sorry state it is in. You seen nothing but a mere reflection of yourself. The relationship in porn was one-dimensional; it was never mutual. It never even came close to resembling anything human. And yet a human entertained such a relation. But what sort of human wishes such a state of affairs? What sort of human enjoys such acts? What sort of human, I ask?

Are you human at all?

There is something inhuman about porn. It contains this contradiction: it attempts to portray human sexual relations without the act of sexual sex nor the relation. What a profound paradox! How could such a thing be possible? Is ice ever hot? If so, porn just burned up.

And porn does not allow room for existence. It takes away everything existence ever meant or ever could have possibly meant.

Existence—as Kierkegaard, and Heidegger after him, pointed out—is “a becoming.” We exist because we are in a state of existing and becoming. We are not frozen in time like pornographic images on your pixelated screen. We are not pixels. Human beings cannot be reduced to pixels.

The girl on the screen is really not a girl by any means—she’s just electricity leaving colorful explosions on your screen. That’s about it. Porn has no people engaged in its business—it only has fragments of people’s existence; it only gives you pixelated people. A rather detestable thing. Really, a shame.

Written by Moses Y. Mikheyev

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (New York: Nation Books, 2009), 82.

2 thoughts on “Porn and the Problem of Pixelated People

  1. So true. Also very funny. However, porn cannot be reduced to love affairs with pixels on a computer screen. Its much more psychological than that. Theres a reason people watch porn, and even though it is one dimensional and disagrees with the basic concepts of existence, it satisfies (to some degree) sexual desires that cannot be repressed or realistically satisfied for most people. What do you think exists more: a group of pixels based on a real person, or a purely imagined visualization based on a real person? I don’t think there is a correct answer. In my opinion, your critique also applies to fantasizing without the use of porn.

    • Yes, certainly! The critique applies to those who create “constructs” of other people without the use of porn.
      Pixels, I think, prove how much humans are driven to make things like ideas become “in the flesh.” We have Incarnations on a daily basis. The problem with such materializations with pornographic ideas is that the materialization of the people never really occur. This means that porn is itself a contradiction. You want things to materialize and yet you don’t have any such thing.

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