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Pornography Perils
Guest Editorial by: Kelly Burgener

I am writing to voice my concern for the recent sex issues in Print and Step magazines. At the risk of being dismissed as prudish, naive, or at the very least, provincially out of step, I believe that someone needs to explain another perspective on this topic that may be of some value for this profession to consider.

As designers, we are by nature possessed with a healthy egotism. Whether we will admit to this or not, it is easy to see ourselves as intellectually above the society that surrounds us. We pride ourselves in occupying a position of cultural vanguard and see ourselves as beyond most traditional moral boundaries and, to a degree, insulated from the consequences of poor choices made by others.

To our credit, our profession speaks out on a variety of societal problems. We do that using our powerful visual voice on issues ranging from environmentally responsible printing methods to opposition against war. We can be especially vocal when it comes to corruption in corporations, governments, and cultures. For example, we rightly decry the exploitation of youth in third world nations by tobacco manufacturers or the enslaving of women in southern Asia.

What a contradiction it seems to me then to find an entire volume in one of the leading magazines of American design devoted to an industry that fosters a binding addiction to something as potentially life-altering as pornography.

That the pornography industry is undoubtedly one of the most exploitative industries of our day—an industry of extreme manipulation, coercion, profiteering, and addiction—is reason alone for designers to reject it and to lend their efforts to its limitation or removal. Pornography as an industry is expanding at a rate that would make the most exploitative capitalist blush with envy. Revenue from pornography is larger than the combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises and exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC ($6.2 billion). Child pornography alone generates $3 billion annually (www.internetfilterreview.com).Wired magazine (August 2004) recently reported on the shrinking 18—34 year old male television audience who are migrating in large numbers to the internet. When asked where they were going online, 71% responded that they were visiting pornography sites—twice the rate of visits to gaming, career, or shopping sites.

Print also appears to ignore the body of evidence that shows the catastrophic impact on individuals, families, and society at large caused by pornography. At its best, sexual intimacy can be a bonding and compassionate experience that brings love, unity, and purpose to a marriage. At its worst, sex is a selfish and greedy act that is physically painful and frequently mentally destructive. Pornography fosters an exaggerated erotic appetite that taints minds and robs victims of the ability to feel compassion, sympathy, or love. Pornography has been found to be the common denominator in cases of sexual abuse, rape, and incest. It is also frequently linked to a host of other social ills including divorce, domestic violence, and to many of this nation’s most brutal murders. Victims on the various sides of the pornography issue face a lifetime of anxiety, depression, hostility, anger, and impaired relationships.

I have the unique position of being both a designer and a counselor of youth where I see the individual-level impact of pornography. From the perspective of a designer, pornography will never be art (the samples shown in Print made that abundantly clear). Art is about aesthetics—not only beauty but also the ability to feel. Pornography on the other hand is an anesthetic to its participants, leaving them dull and senseless.

Print and Step magazine’s attempts to dispassionately look at such a passionate subject becomes more than a tacit endorsement of this multi-billion dollar industry.

Like most designers, I believe that graphic design can be a powerful tool against ignorance, exploitation, and manipulation. With the subject of pornography, we are faced with precisely those issues—but it is graphic designers who are ignorant if we see this as simply another art form worthy of our consideration as art or human expression. As a responsible and socially contributing profession, I believe that we must face the real truth of what the pornography industry represents.

I propose that it is time for this profession to put away childish titillation on such a serious topic and begin to lend our efforts to counter the singularly negative products and by-products of the pornography industry. Thinking designers will realize that pornography hurts—hurts society, families, women, men, and especially youth. It is time that this profession accepts the moral responsibility to speak out and make a difference in another cause that really matters. It may just be one life that our efforts can affect, but to realize that one life could then go on to live and breathe and enjoy some of the basic joys of life that most practitioners of our profession hold as important will make whatever modest effort we might make worthwhile.

Kelly Burgener is the past chair of the Brigham Young University-Idaho Department of Art and is currently professor of graphic design. Kelly has continued his design practice as the owner of Burgener Design, whose clients have included Zebco Outdoor, Diet Center, Summarius Corporation, LDS Foundation, Brigham Young University, and Brigham Young University-Idaho. As a package designer for Pedersen / Gesk in Minneapolis, his clients included Campbells Foods, Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, Hillshire Farms, Sara Lee, and ConAgra Foods. Kelly was educated at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

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PUBLISHED ON Aug.06.2004 BY Speak Up
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
ps’s comment is:

wasn't the print issue about sex rather than pornography?

as i recall vaguely i did not read the issue as a glorification of pornography. (but then, i saw it during typecon and the serifs must have taken over)

and if pornography is such an important element of "sex", should or can it be ignored?

On Aug.06.2004 at 04:23 PM
marian’s comment is:

I'm sorry, Kelly, but your post contains so many generalizations that I feel are false that I barely know where to start.

Caveat: I still have not received my issue of Print, so I'm handicapped in direct comment to that issue (where is it?? held up at the border, perhaps).

I do have the issue of STEP right here though, and I really wouldn't use the word "pornography" to describe any of the articles in it ... except perhaps the "Best of Show"

;)

I really don't see any individual's decision to observe or consume pornography as a "poor choice."

Addiction to anything is potentially life-altering.

I think the fashion and cosmetics industry is equally exploitive, including extreme manipulation, coercion, profiteering, and addiction (and this, i think, we covered in Armin's original post about the issue).

I see absolutely no reason why designers as a group should be called upon to lend our efforts to its limitation or removal. Some designers with beliefs that match your own, along with some doctors, some teachers, etc. etc. ... sure, go ahead.

You mentioned the best and the worst of sexual relationships, but not the gamut of largely healthy (and complicated) relationships in between—many of which include pornography in some form.

[Alcohol] has been found to be the common denominator in cases of sexual abuse, rape, and incest ...

Pornography often is art ... or perhaps art is often pornography; and there's nothing to say that it is not or cannot be design as well.

Art is about aesthetic

I think many, many people would take issue with that statement.

leaving them dull and senseless.

Ummmm ...

the singularly negative products and by-products

Ummm ...

Really, to make such a statement is ludicrous.

Like anything else in this world, pornography has a range of extremes, with a range of damage. I know lots of people who consume pornography to varying degrees and every one of them is healthy, balanced, and worthy of being my friend.

We all choose our causes, and clearly you have chosen yours, but "as a designer" I don't feel even remotely compelled to join you.

On Aug.06.2004 at 04:54 PM
nat’s comment is:

i was in the midst of typing a response when i read marian's comments, and since she put it much more eloquently than i am able to, i will simply say tha ti agree whole-heartedly.

on the subject of the print issue in particular,

i have to say that i was somewhat disappointed with it; not because of the sex theme, but because some of the articles felt like they were included simply because they shared the subject and not because they had anything particularly interesting to say.this has nothing to do with the sex focus, though. i would have the same complaint had the subject been typography or color or anything else. i just don't like when the content suffers for the sake of adhering to a theme.

On Aug.06.2004 at 05:05 PM
Christopher Risdon’s comment is:

I have to echo the sentiments above and think you've irrationally clumped all things explicit in their sexuality as being "pornography" and then villifying it.

You make clear some very scary facts about pornography, however the majority of the adult-oriented content of these magazines doesn't even come close to falling into what you describe. (and in Print, Rick Poynor critically addresses the purvasiveness of sexual imagery in media)

You've outlined a very subjective, singular moral view (which you are very much entitled to). And though subjective morals should be a welcome part in discussions about the social impact of design, a common ground must be found to make something happen. By generalizing the content of these magazines and equating them with all the negative statics attributed to pornography, you've defined too narrow of a moral view (and passed judgement on many people) for there to be anything constructive to come from it.

Addressing the negative aspects in pornography (that you outline) - and discussing how as designers we might affect this - is not the problem. But clumping all things sexual or 'adult' - that many people know is not amoral - into this to forward your argument is where your efforts are misguided.

On Aug.06.2004 at 05:59 PM
steve’s comment is:

I don't have time to respond in manifesto form, but clearly this whole argument is an issue of perspective. I share Kelly's perspective on the majority of things that she said.

On Aug.06.2004 at 06:55 PM
Drew’s comment is:

So apparently design isn't important or cool enough to sell magazines without resorting to attaching it to sex?

Isn't a common complaint among designers and artist that magazines are resorting to selling sex and/or celebrity worship now instead of actually meaningfully discussing/covering the appropriate industry/subculture and using meaningful or interesting design/artwork on the covers instead of the sexy celebrity of the month?

I just think the whole thing is a little — I don't know — teenage-boy-ish?

Kelly - I agree with you on almost all of your points, but you've made it a moral issue instead of a 'is this necessary for design' issue.

On Aug.06.2004 at 08:28 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

Well, okay.

The biggest issue I have with those magazines is no what they cover, but rather their tendency to errantly chase down fashionable trends and ramble about them and make lame efforts to incorporate graphic design into the mix. While I don't really care for much of what he says, Bruce Mau is right when he says "Its not about the world of design, its about the design of the world." Some people find these subjects interesting though, I find them inane so I don't bother. Whatever.

Here's the deal when it comes to pornography. People--individuals--are always the cause. Nothing makes anyone do anything, and I'm not shallow enough to assume that you're implying any such thing. But its worth keeping in mind; people do what they do, and the individual alone is responsible. Pornography is an inactive, inanimate item waiting to be accessed by other people--its also a dangerous item and interaction with it can persuade one to act in certain ways. To deny this is ludicrous--because if you don't at least acknowledge that possibility, then you might as well give up being a designer right now.

This is also a free society, and part of freedom is allowing people to screw themselves over time and again. It's not morally bereft, as I've seen argued time and again--its just the way it works. Part of being free also means that...you're not morally obligated to do a damn thing. You can't dictate morality, you can't tell someone that this is good and this is bad so therefore only do that; there's a freedom of choice that we're all entitled to.

I see where you're coming from--your arguments are compelling. Pornography is dangerous. It can bring out the worst in people. This is all true.

Pornography is also hard to describe. Some people could, theoretically, classify the work of Nick Knight or Steven Klein as pornography--they would be wrong. Sexuality is a natural part of being human and along with many things in this life, its open to interpretation. Much of this is just too hard to regulate...

On Aug.06.2004 at 08:32 PM
Screwya’s comment is:

I share Kelly's perspective on the majority of things that she said.

Or, what he said...

On Aug.06.2004 at 09:05 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

I found the prudish, yes, brown cover-up of that issue just as bad as the gaudy, yes, issue itself. They're both manifestations of the same problem: sexual immaturity in the US. Both "titillating" and wanting people not to get "titillated" are signs of a psychologically weak society, where people believe anything that's convenient, including how relevant some archaic religious writings are, and how nice a movie star is in person.

What do you expect when all piggy banks now have a release at the bottom?

hhp

On Aug.06.2004 at 09:20 PM
Dom’s comment is:

Pornography fosters an exaggerated erotic appetite that taints minds and robs victims of the ability to feel compassion, sympathy, or love. Pornography has been found to be the common denominator in cases of sexual abuse, rape, and incest. It is also frequently linked to a host of other social ills including divorce, domestic violence, and to many of this nation’s most brutal murders. Victims on the various sides of the pornography issue face a lifetime of anxiety, depression, hostility, anger, and impaired relationships.

Yep. I do think pornography is definitely worthy of a good public thrashing.

Both "titillating" and wanting people not to get "titillated" are signs of a psychologically weak society, where people believe anything that's convenient, including how relevant some archaic religious writings are, and how nice a movie star is in person.

When did this become an attack on someones faith in the truth of an antient manuscript? I find the translated archaic writings that I read extremely relevant for today. But that's an entirely different discussion : )

On Aug.07.2004 at 02:03 AM
george’s comment is:

I think that Kelly has made some very compelling and much-needed points on an issue that can easily become convoluted. I find it disappointing that we, as a culture, have become so desensitized to this issue that we quibble over the moral complexity of it, and turn a blind eye to the absolutely ravaging effects it has on people. If you're uncomfortable with trying to define something based on a moral perspective, then simply look at it from a statistical perspective! The facts are abundant...this is a blight on our society. And although I respect each person's absolute right to hold whatever position they choose. I suggest that rational intelligent individuals who won't face the facts are simply being "amorally" stubborn.

On Aug.07.2004 at 05:19 AM
Rick Poynor’s comment is:

Kelly, I have a certain amount of sympathy with what you say, but did you actually read the issue of Print? Your comments are so vague. My own article in the magazine, "Designing Pornotopia", is intended as a sceptical, critical view of sexual imagery in the mainstream media, showing how it derives from pornography (and thanks for pointing that out, Christopher). It is written in measured, though I hope not dispassionate language because I think that is the most effective and persuasive way of approaching the topic for readers who are likely to have widely differing opinions -- look at the gulf between your own views and Marian's. But my article certainly isn't neutral.

I haven't seen the issue of Step, but I know that Print has received many letters criticising its decision to deal with the subject. This is depressing. Since sexual imagery is manifestly a part of our visual culture, like it or not, it seems entirely reasonable and desirable to examine it critically and this is impossible without being prepared to look at some actual examples. What accuracy or validity could any criticisms have otherwise?

Personally, I have no problem with explicit sexual imagery in itself, and I thought there were times, such as in Steve Heller's piece about Tijuana Bibles, where Print might have been more explicit. But I do object to the rampant commercialisation and infantilisation of sex through industrialised porn -- at which the US excels, as you indicate. The over-inflated bodies presented by present-day porn, both male and female, offer a truly dispiriting model of sexuality, especially for young people for whom this is a premature and perhaps damaging introduction. I think it is presumptuous to tell designers what they should do about this, but I certainly hoped that discussing some concrete examples, such as the Eboy design team, might lead some readers to think carefully about the meaning and use of sexual imagery in their own work.

On Aug.07.2004 at 09:21 AM
Hrant’s comment is:

Faith is great - essential, even. But don't try to push yours on others, otherwise you'll make the world [even more] miserable.

As the song goes, "People are still having sex."

Get over it already, from both sides.

hhp

On Aug.07.2004 at 01:03 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

Ideas are great - essential, even. But don't try to push yours on others, otherwise you'll make the world [even more] miserable.

Products are great. Some are essential, even. But don't try to push yours on others, otherwise you'll make the world [even more] miserable.

Nutrition is great - essential, even. But don't try to push yours on others, otherwise you'll make the world [even more] miserable.

Sorry, bout that. Hrant's knee jerked, and mine jerked right back.

On Aug.07.2004 at 01:19 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

My knees are firm - I am unmoved by these pursuits of personal crusades.

You want to worry about something? You're concerned about people's lives being ruined? Worry about fucking global capitalism. Worry about the reckless eroding of social responsability (not at all the same thing as being religious) in the West.

Otherwise you're part of the illusion, part of the problem.

hhp

On Aug.07.2004 at 01:24 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

The thing that disturbs me most about our pervasive meat-based economy is sexualisation at & of children.

I have a 6 year-old son. I want him to grow up to be a gentleman who is truly respectful of women. I know that it is not the media's job to teach him that, but it angers me that they are pouring millions (billions?) of dollars, pounds & euro into teaching him the opposite: that women are manipulative meat & men brainless predators. That message is visible everywhere from magazines to television to the radio.

The stock answer is. Just shut it off. As an interesting exercise, try to avoid all images that are inappropriate to 6 year-olds next time you go shopping. That's the ambient sexualisation at children. It's like second hand smoke for the brain.

Then there is direct sexualisation at children. An example: Busted is a "band" that sings (badly) stupid teenage boy songs. But they are marketed to preteens. Everyone in my son's class at school knows about Busted. They did a song for Thunderbirds (the film). Their albums are advertised during children's television shows. They sing songs like "What I go to school for":

...fight my way to front of class

To get the best view of her ass

I drop a pencil on the floor

She bends down and shows me more…

and "Year 3000"

...triple breasted women swim around town... totally naked!

Really stupid. Really inane. Really imorrally marketed.

Marketing is the key word in the sexualisation at children, but somewhere in the background there are some graphic designers who are acting irresponsibly too.

But where we are really messing up is the sexualisation OF children. You see it in fashion advertisements all the time from run-of-the-mill department stores to the world's leading labels. But you don't need a big photography & model budget to join in the fun. Go to Getty. Search for "teenage girl bikini". You will get 232 results. Not all of the girls are under 18. Not all the pictures are inappropriate, but there is still plenty to choose from.

Children should be protected from this stuff. We designers do have a part to play.

Thank you for raising this issue, Kelly.

On Aug.07.2004 at 02:23 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

You want to worry about something? You're concerned about people's lives being ruined? Worry about fucking global capitalism. Worry about the reckless eroding of social responsability (not at all the same thing as being religious) in the West.

Hrant, you forgot global warming, a new ice age, and the sun burning out.

I'm pretty sure your worries about ruined lives do not cancel all other (lesser?) worries about ruined lives.

I, for one, am going a bit nuts about what the West allowing to happen in Sudan just because they don't happen to have any of that lovely, lovely oil; but I still found the ability to be concerned about the subject of this discussion.

Your knees continue to jerk.

On Aug.07.2004 at 02:55 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

Just keep hugging your whales, and your role as a comfy cog in the machine is assured.

hhp

On Aug.07.2004 at 03:30 PM
Su’s comment is:

"What do you mean, 'exploitation?' She's got the whip!"

On Aug.07.2004 at 03:49 PM
Matt Waggner’s comment is:

Your children buy porn because you think sex is yucky. Which is to say, if sex were a normal, acknowledged fact of life for young people, they probably wouldn't need to sneak around to look at it, learn about it, and yes, have it.

The study certainly didn't get a lot of play over here, but it's basically been shown that teaching teenagers about oral sex significantly decreases the teen pregnancy rate. (Even the overall amount of teen sex decreased 20% in that case.) I guess I'm posting this to say that I agree with Hrant with regard to the negative impact of extreme prudishness – they don't call America the largest fundamentalist nation on earth for nothing, I suppose..

Other than the minor issues like selecting a less exploitative photo for a layout, I think the key challenge for a designer on this issue is convincing clients that the audience is intelligent and discerning, and that if they really need sexual images in an advertisement or publication, people will appreciate something tasteful and regularly-proportioned.

Probably these assertions will need to be made absent evidence, for a time, and rewiring people's minds such that selling messages based on inadequacy become ineffective would take a huge effort, and design leadership that could convince businesses to forego some part of their profits for the short term. (If you're really interested in rewiring people's minds, in any case, it would surely be easier to learn taste and decency than to simply un-like sex. Repression, especially in this regard, is bound to fail...)

Kelly, I'm curious about the way children in this position are counseled – do you treat a youth who has "socially unacceptable" attitudes about sex (to the point where they might be harassing other children, for example) as abused, as potential criminals, as... ? Is improper sexual knowledge treated by reinforcing positive images/role models, by diverting that kid's energy into good grades/sports/etc, or some other way? Since you're engaged with the larger body of information on this subject, maybe you could offer more concrete tips about what seems to help young people most, and in what ways... I mean, if we can agree there's a problem, what (in the long term) can be done about it?

PS: Thanks, Su...

On Aug.07.2004 at 05:09 PM
Rob’s comment is:

Pornography has been found to be the common denominator in cases of sexual abuse, rape, and incest. It is also frequently linked to a host of other social ills including divorce, domestic violence, and to many of this nation’s most brutal murders.

Kelly, as an academic, I'd expect you to cite your sources when making claims like this. Why I agree that pornography can be damaging, I feel as if you've put it in the 'worst evil the world has to offer' category and I'm not sure I agree.

Seems to me this is more about moral issues, specifically your moral issue, and really not about design. As it's been pointed out, what you saw as pornography in Print, apparentley wasn't. (I too haven't seen this issue yet, so I can't speak to its specifics but base my assumption on those here who have seen or written for it.)

We live in an essentially uptight society where people in general are afraid of sex. We hide it from view as if it was something ugly and evil. But really, sex is the most basic natural instinct of man. The ultimate act of which, at least between man and woman, is creation of another human life.

Sex sells. Sex sells in the US because we are so afraid as American to admit that we actually do like it and enjoy it. Who doesn't want to look attractive, or buy things that we think might make us more attractive to those around us. And the media takes advantage of this in the biggest ways. And according the First Amendment, pornography has the same rights as (not including child pornography which is a very different issue), The New York Times, Print and even the Bible, which has its own racy sex stories to share. So, should we start advocating for censorship of that publication as well? It may not have pictures but it's got plenty of sex and violence to last a few thousand years.

In the end, this isn't about design. It's about morals.

And Kelly, while I in no way question your right to your position, it's clearly one I cannot support.

On Aug.07.2004 at 06:12 PM
Nary’s comment is:

It is also frequently linked to a host of other

social ills including divorce, domestic violence, and

to many of this nation’s most brutal murders.

hmmm…Last I heard, financial problems is the leading cause for most marriage break-ups. And I suppose one can blame a lot for domestic violence — drugs, alcohol, having had an abusive parent — in my household, it was gambling. As for brutal murders, I guess the same argument could apply. See, the thing is, this is going around in circles. It’s like the argument of violence in the media influencing kids to shoot up a school. (Yet I still do not understand why it is easier for a movie with gore and violence to get an R or PG-13 rating, while a silly thing like Showgirls, for example, gets an NC-17.) It’s finger-pointing without really scrutinizing the problem. Easy cop-out.

As Peter pointed out, Print’s Sex Issue wasn’t about pornography -- it said so on the cover, it’s about sex. (I haven’t seen Step so I can’t comment on that.) It just so happens that pornography is a subcategory of sex. So is erotica. So is sex-education. One cannot lump everything that deals with sex under the umbrella of pornography. It’s those people that get fig leaves painted over Renaissance Masters’ nudes. And I would guess that it’s those same people who decry giving our kids sex-ed and then wondering where they went wrong when their daughter is pregnant at 14.

pornography will never be art

However, some do consider some art to be pornography. Anyway, ever heard of Jeff Koons’ Made in Heaven? Made in Heaven was featured in a museum before the hugely oversized photographs were destroyed by the artist himself. Which museum? I forgot. But I’m sure it wasn’t one of the “kinky museums” featured in Print.

Print and Step magazine´┐Ż|s attempts to

dispassionately look at such a passionate subject

becomes more than a tacit endorsement of this

multi-billion dollar industry.

I don’t see what Print did as an endorsement. I saw it more as wanting to explore a topic that’s all around us and present in visual forms, print and otherwise, that graphic designers can use and the public is influenced by. My only disappointment with the issue is that it was a bit of a dry read. Not much wit or humor either, although I enjoyed the bit about Quark vs. InDesign, which was informative.

Marian made a very compelling argument and I totally agree with her. As a matter of fact, I know someone with a collection of over a hundred pornographic DVDs. He’s harmless and good hearted, but you know what, he’s kinda lazy and his love life’s fucked up and his crazy sex life contains stories that’ll make you cringe, laugh, or jealous, but hey, I’m not going to point the finger and tell him how to live his life.

Kelly, I'm glad you you care enough about this issue to do/say something about it;however, you are presenting a very narrow view and your argument is not strong enough to convince me that you are not, as they say, making a mountain out of a molehill.

On Aug.08.2004 at 12:49 AM
Dom’s comment is:

Your children buy porn because you think sex is yucky.

Who said anything about sex being yucky? I think that's taking Kelly's statement a little out of context. Personally, I don't believe children look at porn because their parents don't bring up sex—or discourage it. PEOPLE look at porn because they have a natural sexual desire within them to look at it, and that natural sexual desire starts at a young age.

Just like I didn't do drugs because I wasn't educated about it. I fell into the wrong crowd and had that curiosity within me to experiment with drugs! So I did. I went to the DARE program in the 5th grade and started getting high in high school (no pun intended). Human nature, mixed with circumstance and a bad decision.

I also don't believe that parents telling/educating their kids about sex decreases their desire to look at pornography—it's a human nature thing, as many people have stated. Sex education doesn't magically erase the desire to have sex, it just informs kids about what it's all about, what the outcomes may be, etc.

I absolutely think that sex is great and it's meant to bring pleasure and it's good! I also think that parents should educate their children, and not have them to think that it's this evil thing that we do that we shouldn't talk about. It's the context that I have issues with. But hey, that's just me.

On Aug.08.2004 at 03:00 AM
Dom’s comment is:

pornography will never be art

This isn't even worth getting into. People will never agree on what art is. I have a guy I work with at work who, when he dies, wants to fill his body full of paint and be shot from a cannon onto a huge canvas. (He's calling it his Final Painting)

Now try and make an argument to him that that's not art—as twisted as that may seem, I guess it could be considered art, but is art a moral thing? I don't think that art has moral value attached to it. It's images, pictures, sculptures—whatever, that people create that comes from something within them. It may be art, but it's not something that I'm not going to go look at. It's definitely creative though (the cannon thing) so I gotta give him props for that! Let people call whatever they want art. Just because it's called art doesn't make it ok. I could kill someone and paint the canvas with their guts, show it to you and call it art and I'm absolutely certain that I'd have some crazy maniac that would agree with my statement that it's art.

So let's do something about pornography issue then. You'll always have opposition wherever you stand, so stand for what you believe in and let people make up their minds about how they react to it. Thanks for Speaking Up.

On Aug.08.2004 at 03:21 AM
Matt Waggner’s comment is:

Dom - What I meant wasn't that kids will stop looking at pornography if their parents told them more... What I meant was that parents could address their kids' curiosity, and direct them to better sources of information, guiding their understanding to some degree. "Repression... is bound to fail".

The "yucky" thing was just to suggest that many parents are unwilling to have those conversations with their kids, so they give up their ability to guide the younguns' understanding on the issue ("parent" them, if you will), which could lead to getting the less-than-healthy impressions that Kelly suggests.

On Aug.08.2004 at 07:46 AM
Rob’s comment is:

PEOPLE look at porn because they have a natural sexual desire within them to look at it, and that natural sexual desire starts at a young age.

We are all born with a natural desire for sex. Children usually start discovering it in their first few years (usually by random) of life as they are figuring out their own bodies and what all the parts do and are. Around the age of six or seven the need for privacy, for most kids, overrides their sexual curiousity and shuts the door on it for awhile. (This is all in terms of self-exploration by the way). At least that's what I've learned after discovering my three-year old daughter doing her 'body stretches.'

Best of all, we told her that it was okay, it was natural but that it was something she should only do in her room, when she was by herself. It was hers to own and only hers. (Trust me I was a little shocked to discover that three-year olds masturbating was really natural and not promiscuous, most likely because it was my own kid.)

I think the bottom line here is what is good for some is not necessarily good for all. While Kelly's points have some validity and others are just outrageous and inaccurate generalizations, the supposition that there needs to be an organized effort of graphic designers is off-base.

I think the peril is not in pornography but in not dealing with sex in an honest and straightforward manner. No matter how diffcult the issue, if you don't tell your kids the truth, there will always be a level of mistrust created. (You can couch this in it's better for them not to know, which is total BS). When my father died, it was my then five-year old who came up with the answer to the unanswerable question of why her grandfather had died. She said, "G-d had a job for him to do."

Now, let's get back to design. And enjoy the rest of your weekend.

On Aug.08.2004 at 10:10 AM
Diane Witan’s comment is:

We all choose our causes, and clearly you have chosen yours, but "as a designer" I don't feel even remotely compelled to join you.

I agree...

Sex is sex, Nudity is nudity, but what is pornography?

Would someone please give me a clear explanation of what is pornography and what is not? If the line is so blurred that we cannot distinguish in between what is and what isn't then how can we even begin to make an argument on the subject of pornography? It's almost like attempting to clearly define art, there are no specifications, it is an open area. The only way it is labeled art (or in this case pornography) is in the eyes of the on looker. And in that case you can always choose to look away. It's a matter of your personal taste, not morality.

Sex is sex, Nudity is nudity, but what is pornography?

On Aug.08.2004 at 11:05 AM
Diane Witman’s comment is:

I have to add one more thing.

Reading a few other posts on this subject had touched on how children were raised and taught on the subject of sex.

First of all now being a parent myself, I want my child to learn and appreciate all things. I know I cannot keep him from doing all of the "bad things" but I will trust him to make the appropriate choices when those circumstances arise.

My parents who have tried every drug possible in their days educated me on the consequences of doing drugs and made it an open subject to talk about. Many of my friends thought it was cool that my parents "smoked up" and may have even tried it myself but I made my own choice to stay away from drugs because my parents showed me various views on the subject and gave me the freedom to make my own choices. This goes for all areas and I have to credit my parents for allowing me this freedom of thought. One thing that has always stuck with me is a quote from my mom "If it doesn't feel right, then don't do it."

Thanks mom, one of the best pieces of advice ever received as a teenager.

I can't stand when people try to tell me what is good or bad for me, how would you ever know? I will make that decision for myself.

On Aug.08.2004 at 11:16 AM
Geoffrey’s comment is:

It is also frequently linked to a host of other social ills including divorce, domestic violence, and to many of this nation’s most brutal murders.

Pornography causes divorce? Are you sure it's not lack of communication? I'd love to know where this data is coming from. I can only guess.

Anyway, I'm going to go finish reading my Anais Nin book and then face a lifetime of anxiety.

On Aug.08.2004 at 12:01 PM
vibranium’s comment is:

My biggest problem:

Local Orlando bookstore felt in necessary to wrap the cover and lable it: explicit image.

whattha?

Enough already...

On Aug.08.2004 at 06:24 PM
big steve’s comment is:

Didn't we already do this round-about a month ago...

The one where some of of say we think it's fine and the others want to tell us what's good and bad for us? I don't care enough to retype all of my comments from before (because clearly no ones mind is gonna change here) but i can add this.

Last week I spent a night out Karaoking with some of the biggest porn stars in the business and some no so famous. Any ways, I hear how terrible and disguisting etc etc this is for all of the girls, but they're just like everyone else - they have sex as their day job and at night they are completely normal and do completely normal stuff (by my standards anyways) - i know that's a generalization and that it does suck for some people, but that can be said about any job. Hanging out in the Valley I also see porn stars at the bank, at the gym, in hte grocery store... and it's nothing. I just cannot believe how these crusaders who are "fighting for the honour" of the anal queens and cum guzzlers are on one hand giving their third-party woo-is-them perspective but in doing so completely treating them like leprous piriahs. GET OVER YOURSELF! Seriously. I've done back-breaking labor, the vast majority of people in this world make a living using their bodies as a tool (from blue-collar anything to doctors/athletes/et al), so why is the space between your legs off limits? And please don't tell me about what your God says in his fancy book, I'm talking universally - something that isnt derived from ghostsa and goblins and saints and fairies with pixy dust.

** I just snipped the rest of this out because I'm pretty sure it would have gotten be banned from Speakup, and i really dont want to stop coming by because of your beliefs, or your urge for everyone else in this world to agree with you. I'll try to end this as positively as possible.

Thanks for caring about the children of this world and trying to keep them safe - but I think we should work on keeping them alive and not being shot but assult weapons, or dying from cancer because they're smoking at 10 years old, or from starving in the streets because of poverty, or from dying because they can't afford healthcare or medicine, or from being abused/killed because they're the wrong color/religion/sexual preference - Once we've got those things out of the way, then maybe it will be reasonable to crusade against pictures (or movies) of boobies and penises.

On Aug.08.2004 at 07:09 PM
big steve’s comment is:

Vibra - that's how it was packaged by the publisher. I think it actually is a pun, like "DANGER! CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT"

On Aug.08.2004 at 07:10 PM
envy’s comment is:

Re: I spent a night out Karaoking with some of the biggest porn stars in the business

You definitely had a more interesting weekend than I had, Big Steve!

('Big' Steve?)

On Aug.09.2004 at 02:09 AM
Jaywar’s comment is:

"potentially life-altering"

Cum on!!!! This is sex not CRACK!

On Aug.09.2004 at 07:45 AM
Steve Heller’s comment is:

Funny, that the same week that Print and Step hit the newsstands the New York Times Magazine section published an article how housewives sell sexual aids (and toys) in the midwest at Tuperware-like parties. The article took a business focus and treated the theme without purience of any kind. The idea that sexual enhancements like Viagra are advertised on TV and in magazines, along with "serious" videos and books (which have been around for ages) is indeed news. That design plays a role in the marketing of sex and sexuality is not news, per se, but the critical mass of designed goods makes it worthy of examination.

Neither Print nor Step were exclusively about pornography, but certain articles addressed this curious nexus. And this seems appropriate given the realities of consumer culture. Neither magazine sanctioned porno as a viable and worthy industry, but rather examined how elements of porno have been adopted and adapted by marketers and advertisers.

I'm sorry that for the type-lovers among us, there was not an essay on how sexuality is invested in type (i.e. matricies and patricies).

Also, by the way.

Veronique Vienne weighs in on the two issues at AIGA VOICE:

http://journal.aiga.org/content.cfm?ContentAlias=%5Fgetfullarticle&aid=%23%2F%2E%5B%2B%0A

or

http://journal.aiga.org/

Its worth a read and perhaps a comment or two.

On Aug.09.2004 at 08:47 AM
StephD’s comment is:

I agree with Kelly on the main point of his editorial. I'm not going to be critical of his genalizations or even go into the style it was written. But the main topic does hit home for me.

Until you have seen first hand what ponography does to a person, it's hard to comprehend just how damaging it really is. I have a nephew whose life is destroyed because he was exposed to pornography at an early age. He was locked up at the age of 14 for molesting two boys. He is now on the list of sexual offenders. When asked by his therapist why he did what he did, my nephew stated, "I saw it done in a porno magazine."

Rape, humiliation, unrealistic expectations, destroyed lifes all because some kid saw it in a porno magazine.

Do I think it's a good idea to expose children to the subject of adult sex? No. Their perception of what is real isn't developed to a point of complete understanding. Talking about sex with your children versus showing them pornography is really two different things.

In my opinion, and based on what I have seen in my life, pornography is just as bad for society as guns, smoking, racism, hate crime, drug abuse, etc. And the solution starts in my house, not the White House.

From a viewpoint as a designer, I won't have anything to do with pornography. There are more constructive issues out there where my designs can move and make a difference on society. Perhaps I would design products that counter pornography. It's a personal issue for me.

On Aug.09.2004 at 08:59 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Can we please talk about real issues like Gay Marriage!?

;o)

On Aug.09.2004 at 09:19 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

"I saw it done in a porno magazine."

Yes, for this particular person pornography was bad. For that particular person, alcohol was bad. That person? Pot. That person? Unhealthy fixation on weapons. That guy over there? Bad parents. Me? Too much internet. That chick? Heroin. The man over there? Greed did him in. Her? Tobacco. Bob? Compulsive gambler. Kid down the street? Street racing.

Addiction is addiction and can often be a bad thing. A REAL bad thing. Too much of anything, when attached to a certain mental state can lead to serious problems.

That said, to make the simplistic connection between a 14 year old who 'saw it in a mag' and because of that started 'molesting children' is to completely ignore the bigger issues. The porn may have been the trigger, but there was much more going on enabled the situation to happen. I'm not blaming anyone or anything...which is my point. Black/white arguments over complicated issues being all good/all bad are really really pointless.

But, then again, this is a Blog, and blogs, by definition, are usually about pointless debates, so carry on!

(Hmm...I wonder where Kelly went...)

On Aug.09.2004 at 09:39 AM
Lea’s comment is:

See, the thing about sex is it's such a personal thing that one's "pornography" is another's "open sexuality."

For example, some people can view the show Sex in the City as a ridiculous, whorish, pornographic exploitation of young women and sex. Others can view it as a funny-cause-its-true, liberating, up-to-date, and unforgiving realistic look of single women and sex.

It's all a personal perspective.

In the end, whatever someone's opinion is, it's up to you to get the message straight within your own family. You can't change society's perceptions in one giant blow. You have to start in your own back yard and hope that your own message spreads through word-of-mouth.

My opinion? I'm all for open discussion about sex, proper sex education, but not for exploitation of it. Whatever that means. :-)

On Aug.09.2004 at 09:47 AM
mazzei’s comment is:

As designers, we are by nature possessed with a healthy egotism. Whether we will admit to this or not, it is easy to see ourselves as intellectually above the society that surrounds us. We pride ourselves in occupying a position of cultural vanguard and see ourselves as beyond most traditional moral boundaries and, to a degree, insulated from the consequences of poor choices made by others.

Okay, this may be “off topic” but I TOTALLY disagree with this statement. And just for the record I tend to stay away from anyone designer or not that considers themselves “intellectually above” anyone, I find those who think that way are usually the stupidest people in the bunch.

On Aug.09.2004 at 09:57 AM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

This may be off-topic too...

1

You want to worry about something? You're concerned about people's lives being ruined? Worry about fucking global capitalism. Worry about the reckless eroding of social responsability in the West.

Thanks for caring about the children of this world and trying to keep them safe - but I think we should work on keeping them alive and not being shot but assult weapons, or dying from cancer because they're smoking at 10 years old, or from starving in the streets because of poverty, or from dying because they can't afford healthcare or medicine, or from being abused/killed because they're the wrong color/religion/sexual preference - Once we've got those things out of the way, then maybe it will be reasonable to crusade against pictures (or movies) of boobies and penises.

If you've ever desinged a wine label while people in the world don't have clean water

If you've ever eaten out at a fine restaurant while a country in Africa is experiencing famine

If you've ever worried about getting the rag right on your copy while there is illiteracy in America

If you've ever ranted about a a bad logo redesign while there are corrupt corporatins in the world

then please don't ever use this argument or the hypocrisy monster is liable to come and punish you severely in the small hours.

Of all people to decide what is important enough for a crusade, graphic designers have got to be among the least qualified. Seriously, how much of what we do really matters on a scale of Actual Important Things?

2

And although I respect each person's absolute right to hold whatever position they choose...

I propose that if we actually mean that, then we don't need to say it. (It's not like respect for someone's right to an opinion is that uncommon. And nobody's going to give us a gold star for it.) And if we don't really mean it, it would be a lot more interesting drop the faux reasonableness & say what we really mean.

e.g. And although I respect your absolute right to hold whatever position you choose, it is a load of complete bollocks and the only way that you could possibly believe that is if you were dropped as a child & exposed to vast quantities Jerry Falwell/dope in your formative years because the piece of dung you call your brain is obviously malfuctioning badly, you right/left wing freak, and that's why I spent the last six paragraphs destroying your argument. Now shut up.

See. More interesting. Less smarmy.

Thanks for letting me be cranky this Monday.

On Aug.09.2004 at 11:09 AM
Levi’s comment is:

I think it's funny how so many people here throw out their canned, "The only thing we can know is that we know nothing" responses to serious questions and then at the same time condemn religion - I mean Christianity - as being a fairy tale.

Religion is extremely relevant in this discussion. Not relevant - crucial. Our views on God (or lack of God) and what God expects of us as humans is the only reason we should have this debate.

Let's face it: is degrading. Especially of women. How is a woman empowered by getting ed and having semen smeared across her face? Am I missing someone. A recent poster offered the fact that he sees these women shopping in the supermarket as evidence that they are perfectly happy. Abused housewives look normal to the causual observer too.

On Aug.09.2004 at 11:14 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Religion is extremely relevant in this discussion.

Now we're tossing religion into the mix. IT JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER! (Darrel pulls up his lawnchair, cracks a beer and sits back to watch the fun!)

On Aug.09.2004 at 11:29 AM
big steve’s comment is:

Lea, just for the record, I view Sex & The City as a terribly written show about a bunch of ugly hag-queens. Now, The O.C., THAT'S a show!

As far as the discussion about a 14 year old kid molesting some boys and blaming it on porn -- so what? Every one of us can offer some tragic story that doesn't involve a buzz topic. My friend kenny caught a pencil in the eye in 8th grade... shall we outlaw pencils? Four priests in a row - four - at my elementary school were pedophiles. Should we start banning kids from going to church?

And, not to sound insensitive to your family StephD, but "i saw it in a magazine" sounds about as legit as the dumbass kids who killed therir parents a few years back and blamed Snoop Dogg, or the kids soon after who set their house on fire and blamed Beavis and Butthead -- Either A) it's complete BS and the kids just needed an excuse/scapegoat or B) they really believed a magazine, Snoop, and Beavis made them do these terrible things, in which case it's not the porn or the cd, but the mental disorder behind it, because millions of people every day listen to Snoop, watch a lotta porn, and if they're stoners maybe still watch Beavis and Butthead and those millions of people arent exhibiting the destructive behaviour of these three.

I dont mean this facetiously, but you should listen to Lovelines with Dr. Drew and Adam Corolla sometime... You'll quickly learn that someone does not rape or molest someone else because they see it in a magazine, but rather because they victimizer was once a victim of the same behaviour. If you've got a thick stomach, watch the documentary Stevie, which is also about this topic.

Either way, to say for the 10,000th-ish time, PRINT was about sex, and not pornography. Honestly, I found the issue pretty unexciting, and most certainly not arousing - I was more excited to see the mention of Baudelaire and Thomas Ruff than any of the "risque" stuff.

On Aug.09.2004 at 11:32 AM
Levi’s comment is:

Now we're tossing religion into the mix. IT JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER! (Darrel pulls up his lawnchair, a beer and sits back to watch the fun!)

And not only is religion extremely relevent to the discussion - so are politics! John Kerry or George Bush everyone?

Thanks Darrel. :)

On Aug.09.2004 at 11:36 AM
big steve’s comment is:

Jeff, I fail to see any hypocracy in my statement that keeping kids alive is more important than keeping them from seeing breasts and vaginas - I'm not the one who is advocating censorship (under the guise of temperance or "social responsibility"), but rather just stated that I would prioritize real dangers ahead of bullshit made-up busybody political crusades. and if you can't see the difference in priority between keeping guns out of kids hands and food in their stomachs versus keeping kids from staring at a spank-mag, then you sir are a buffoon! (hows that for smarm-free?)

Levi, A) my god could beat up your god B) As far as belief in God as the reason for this debate - there is no reason for this discussion at all! It's nothing more than some people trying to push their beliefs on others and those others being really annoyed by the whole situation C) I never said the porn stars I see in the supermarket are perfectly happy, I said they're normal, which they are -- and it's a reckless leap in logic to equate a pornstar with a battered woman simply based on the common denominator that they both appear normal D) No one has claimed that being in porn is empowering to women - nope, no one. But to run with that leap in logic, is a secretary an empowered women? What about a cashier? A bus-driver? Nah... they are just women doing a job, which is what porn stars are - women doing a job. No one says they have to love, like, enjoy, or be empowered by their occupation, because how many people are? (us artsy designy people aside)

On Aug.09.2004 at 11:57 AM
Tom’s comment is:

Pornography is an inalienable wrong. No one is given the right by our constituiton to demean or destroy the lives of men, women and children within our borders. The pursuit of happiness, yes. The pursuit of self-destruction, no. I am abhorred that child pornography is a 3 billion dollar industry is this country. That is a disgrace. That is a plague. That filth is the direct result of not attacking the original disease, adult porgnography. The virus has mutated itself into something even more horrible. We attacked and 'eliminated' the SARS virus, but stand and watch as millions of minds and lives are devoured by the viral filth of porn. Get out of your lawn chair and do something about it.

On Aug.09.2004 at 12:02 PM
Dom’s comment is:

And please don't tell me about what your God says in his fancy book, I'm talking universally - something that isnt derived from ghostsa and goblins and saints and fairies with pixy dust.

being abused/killed because they're the wrong color/religion/sexual preference

On Aug.09.2004 at 12:20 PM
big steve’s comment is:

I'm sorry Dom... did I inadvertantly kill or abuse someone? Oops. My bad.

On Aug.09.2004 at 12:37 PM
StephD’s comment is:

Big Steve,

My hubris only goes so far.

All I can see now is a plethora of ivory towers.

On Aug.09.2004 at 12:38 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Get out of your lawn chair and do something about it.

(Darrel scratches his butt and reaches for the chips...)

On Aug.09.2004 at 12:45 PM
jjc’s comment is:

After glancing over the comments it show that most people in the ad business are self centered jerks without conscience. The whole ad business is ponographic.

Maybe the arabs have a point about our culture...

On Aug.09.2004 at 12:58 PM
Geoffrey’s comment is:

Religion is a much more dangerous virus than "pornography" will ever be. How many people are killed in the name of god on a daily basis?

Hey Darrel, can you pass the salsa?

On Aug.09.2004 at 01:03 PM
Armin’s comment is:

What "ad" people?

> The whole ad business is ponographic.

Care to elaborate?

On Aug.09.2004 at 01:03 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Hey Darrel, can you pass the salsa?

Crap. Just ran out. Who wants to run to the Quickie Mart? I'll pitch in for more beer...

On Aug.09.2004 at 01:07 PM
Dom’s comment is:

Aren't words abusive though? Isn't a hate and a discrimination for someone's religion, race, or sex, all from within a person's heart? Doesn't that hate or discrimination make itself known by words? By actions?

Not trying to point a finger at you big steve, just trying to show you this issue from my perspective, recieve it, or not.

On Aug.09.2004 at 01:08 PM
big steve’s comment is:

Well, Dom, i the thing is that I really didn't point any finger at any specific religion, but rather at the use of religious relativism in debate / discussion / whatevs because it is not universal, thus makes a weak arguing point (If I were to say that my God actually requires that I watch at least 3 hours of sodomy and 2 hours of bukkake a day then we'd really be stuck, wouldn't we?)

I have my religion, you have yours and I have no problem with that at all... UNTIL you start telling me that I have to do something (or abstain from something) because of what your religion believes. That's why I said that made light of the use of religion in this argument.

Maybe the arabs have a point about our culture...

Careful with that...you might be considered an enemy of freedom.

Geoffrey & Darrell, nice!

ps - I make a great tomatillo-based green salsa... And I know it's a lil early for Margheritas, but I've getting my blender and the Cazadores ready!

On Aug.09.2004 at 01:32 PM
big steve’s comment is:

Ivory Towers?

The emotionally biased person's last defense against reason.

On Aug.09.2004 at 01:37 PM
Kelly’s comment is:

One of you asked where Kelly went, he's back (yes "he") . . . went away for the weekend and came back to this! I'm impressed?5{his lively or is it just on topics like this?

Thanks for giving it some serious thought, but this is obviously disintegrating into a food fight. I have some additional thoughts and questions.

I'll down some chips and I'll be right back.

On Aug.09.2004 at 01:38 PM
Levi’s comment is:

Religion is a much more dangerous virus than "pornography" will ever be.

I agree. Devotion to to pronography is less dangerous than the persuit of eternity. Of course religion is dangerous. I would be hard pressed to believe anything that is safe.

How many people are killed in the name of god on a daily basis?

People have been killed in the name of God. People have been killed in the name of freedom. People have been killed in the name of love. People have been killed in the name of truth. People have been killed in the name of beauty. People have been killed in about every name known to man.

What is your point?

On Aug.09.2004 at 02:16 PM
Jaywar’s comment is:

Again, just so that we stay on topic (hint, hint) the issue of Print was about SEX. Why is it that when a topic is explored openly and honestly, we Americans recoil in horror? Sex has many facets to it—some can be beautiful like procreation, others like molestation and rape are about as dark as humanity gets. So what again is wrong with writing about the totality of that thing we call sex? Esepcially considering sex is used to sell just about everything in our culture (anyone for an ad for a web server with a bikini clad woman?).

On Aug.09.2004 at 02:48 PM
Dom’s comment is:

Well, Dom, i the thing is that I really didn't point any finger at any specific religion, but rather at the use of religious relativism in debate / discussion / whatevs because it is not universal, thus makes a weak arguing point (If I were to say that my God actually requires that I watch at least 3 hours of sodomy and 2 hours of bukkake a day then we'd really be stuck, wouldn't we?)

I see, and who decides what is universal?

On Aug.09.2004 at 02:50 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

I fail to see any hypocracy in my statement that keeping kids alive is more important than keeping them from seeing breasts and vaginas

That's because that's not where your hypocrisy was. Of course staying alive is more important than not seeing pornography. Even a buffoon could see that. What you are having trouble seeing, Mr Big Steve, is the simple point that there is great value in protecting children from pornography EVEN THOUGH it is not as important protecting them from getting shot. And get this, Mr B S, there are lots & lots of people in the world that care about children, so some of us can work to protect them from pornography & some of us can work to protect them from being shot & maybe some of us in the overstaffed Protecting Them From Smoking Dept. can move over to the Providing Them With Affordable Healthcare Dept. & help out there. Isn't that clever? Lot's of people each doing the part that they care about. Some people are doing more important things than other people, but that's okay.

And if someone asks you not to work on something that contributes to the improper sexualisation of children, maybe you could take 20 or 30 seconds & try to think real hard about it. And just to show you that I'm a nice guy, I'll think really hard about not shooting the little children with my assault rifle.

Man, I'm cranky today.

On Aug.09.2004 at 02:50 PM
StephD aka "Emotionally Biased"’s comment is:

Like I stated before, my "hubris" only goes so far.

On Aug.09.2004 at 03:03 PM
marian’s comment is:

off topic:

Do designers not work on Fridays? Or do you work really hard on fridays? Or are you just looking for something to distract you on Mondays? (And i thought Mondays were a dud posting day)

like

Why did this topic languish with a mere dribble of comments on Friday, and explode with ecstatic commentary today?

just wondering ...

On Aug.09.2004 at 03:14 PM
Sdoyle aka Emotionally Biased’s comment is:

Marian,

Maybe Friday was the day that we all had to work on last minute changes and pushed up dead-lines that irked us and kept us working late therefore making us miss out on the Friday night fun. Now the weekend is shot and I just can't wait to get online Monday and let everyone know how much I...

Oops. I am sounding more and more emotionally biased aren't I?

On Aug.09.2004 at 03:25 PM
danhq’s comment is:

it's easy to get all hopped up about these incendiary topics because they speak to us very loudly at our moral centers (for and against). but i think an important secondary issue here is 'the designer as activist'. we all have our issues that, given the chance, we would use our abilities to promote. some of us promote abortion, some greenpeace, some fair-trade. if kelly wants to use his to fight porn, that's cool.

incidentally i agree with jeff gill that marketing in youth culture is over-sexualized.

On Aug.09.2004 at 04:27 PM
Kelly’s comment is:

What a response . . . I got more than I bargained for with this topic. Being a new commer to Speak Up I didn’t realize that my original editorial would come off with a rather lofty tone to the voice -- I lost sight of my audience, right? We’re designers -- chips, salsa, and a can of (name your favorite beverage) kind of folk. I appreciate being welcomed to the circle as I was. ;-)

Another point of concession to Rick and Steve and many others -- you were right, the Print and Step issues were about sex, not pornography.

I also appreciate people pointing out the holes in my arguments -- you’ve helped me to refine my thinking. I don’t agree with everything that has been said, but you’ve all reminded me of a basic tenet of life -- everybody must make their own choices.

With that said, can I throw some questions back into the ring for more thrashing?

With some of these questions, I can hear you say “what’s your point?” But I would really like to test the prevailing winds here and at least for me, get a sense if there is some kind of beneficial influence that I might pursue within my sphere of design practice. Here goes (deep breath):

1 --- I am curious if there is anything that we as a group of designers could agree on as it relates to the topic of pornography? For example, would most of us agree that limiting access by children to pornography is probably in the best interest of that individual and society? Anyone want to take that one to task?

How about children as subjects being used in pornography? Is there anything besides children and pornography that we could agree on?

2 --- How about the porn industry? Is it just another legitimate form of business out there that is no different than, say, the movie industry? Is it an innocuous industry that serves a certain portion of society in a fair and reasonable way? Thoughts?

That is a leading question, right? Ok how about this, then? On a spectrum of industries, with unethical exploitation on one end and socially, culturally, and individually beneficial purposes on the other end, where would the pornography industry fall?

3 --- If we as a group somehow concluded that the pornography industry is exploitative of some individuals’ personal addictions (I am trying not to use too strong of a words), should we use our influence for some . . . limitation? Is there any precedent where designers helped out a cause to help others to fight an addiction?

I have more questions to ask tomorrow or Wednesday, but let’s start with these.

KB

On Aug.09.2004 at 05:22 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Man, I missed a few heated days of debate.

First off, Kelly — while I respect what you're saying (after all, who would disagree that kiddie porn is evil), what I read from your posting smacks hard of LDS tenets on decency and morality. And while again, there's nothing wrong with personal morality — asking others to base their values on your beliefs is a bit presumptuous and self-righteous.

Secondly, I think there's a big distinction between child pornography and "normal" pornography, like Playboy and the legal adult entertainment stuff. Child pornography is evil incarnate in all its forms. For sake of this discussion, let's separate the two, and assume "porn" refers to the legal, normal, guy-on-girl, girl-on-girl, guy-on-guy (not my cup o'tea, but whatever) stuff.

So I know a couple who are into porn and adult things — they're very private, but at the same time, shockingly open about it. Yet, they are also normal, secure, tolerant, gentle, moral human beings who just happen to be unusually open about sex. They also have kids, and are great parents. Their kids are smart, inquisitive, and polite — just like their mom and dad. To that couple, porn is just harmless, healthy entertainment.

In contrast, I know another couple who are very religious and strongly anti-pornography (not that those two things necessarily go hand-in-hand). To them, "sex" is a dirty word — hell, I've never seen them kiss or hold hands in public. They pride themselves as being very moral people. Yet, behind closed doors, they are very judgemental, homophobic, bigotted, and insecure people. They also have children, but sadly, I can already tell that the parents have already ingrained many of their intolerant beliefs on them. I'm sure they're just trying to protect their children, but nevertheless...

So from my experience—between the two couples, the ones ok with porn seem to be much less intolerant, bigotted, hateful, and sanctimonious than the couple of professed high-morals. Now, I'm not saying that watching porn makes you a better person, I'm just suggesting that maybe porn has nothing to do with how you view and treat other human beings. Judging people based on their views and tolerance of sex, on the other hand, does suggest how you view and treat other human beings.

Another thing about child pornography. A good close friend of mine from college now works legal for the county courts in Houston. He reviews and handles numerous child molestation and abuse cases every week. He knows I have kids, and have always warned me to not trust my kids with anyone — not neighbors, not teachers, NO one. He tells me that there's no way to tell a pedophile from a normal person. Pedophiles can be young, old, rich, poor, gentle, religious, doctors, ministers, teachers, policemen, you name it. Studies have shown that a penchant to porn neither causes pedophilia, nor is a pre-cursor to it. To suggest so is wrong, ignorant, and misleading.

And lastly, to answer your questions:

1 — Of course child porn is bad. Who in the hell would disagree with this. Kinda pointless to ask, don't you think?

2 — Yes, the porn industry is legit. Why would it not be? What's worse — well, there's about a million things that's worse than companies that film people having sex.

Let's see, how 'bout pyramid schemes, insurance companies who target the elderly, religious ministries that target the elderly, pharmaceuticals that target the terminally ill and elderly, energy megacorps like Enron, Emeril Live, that stupid "The Swan" show, and so many other evil things...

3 — We can't conclude anything. Just leave the porn-tolerant people alone, and mind your own business. They don't need designers or anyone else to "save" them from their addiction. If you don't like it, turn the channel, turn the page, or decline the work. If you want to protect your kids — then teach them to value what you deem important, but don't teach them to judge, fear, or hate people who may disagree with you. Because that's wrong and evil.

On Aug.09.2004 at 07:08 PM
Dom’s comment is:

If you don't like it, turn the channel, turn the page, or decline the work. If you want to protect your kids — then teach them to value what you deem important, but don't teach them to judge, fear, or hate people who may disagree with you. Because that's wrong and evil.

On Aug.09.2004 at 07:28 PM
big steve’s comment is:

Kelly

Here's a few quickies before I'm out the door...

1) I dont think anyone is advocating handing out pornography in grade school. I actually agree that mom and dad should keep their stashes and sex toys as far away from their kids as possible (If there's one kind of porn I can definitely argue against, it's mom & dad's homemade porn -- Now that would mess up a kid somethign awful!). And as creators of content we can all apply our own standards to whatever we make. However I think that any sort of litigious, judicious action is retroactive because it's always a slippery slope affair where legal action against child porn creeps into the realm of all porn, which creeps into the realm of questionable art and literature, and next thing you know James Joyce is thrown in jail for typing the word fuck and John Ashcroft of throwing a sheet over a mable statue's nipples because they are deemed indecent. This is why the CDA of 1996 failed -- because when we protect a few at the cost of all of our liberties, we are no longer working in the spirit of democracy (ahem, which is my problem with the Patriot Act). As an aside, I think the term children is kind of a weak in these arguments because it spans such a huge group. Sure 5 year olds shouldn't be watching DVDA, but (and I dont want to open a can of worms about the chicken and the egg) as a member of the youth of america, I can tell you that A) once you reach 12-13 all you think about is sex. Whether you're beating off to Hustler or to that new Gilmore Girls where Lorali wears the fuzzy sweater, you're gonna find something to put in front of your face when you do the deed... Further (once again, please no chicker & eggs here), average kids are having sex at 12 and 13 these days, and though I dont think that means that we should drop the porn-buying age to 12, I dont think it's gonna kill a teenager if they see a penis or to read about one...

As far as children being the subject of porn, that's a no-brainer. It's illegal and wrong. There's always a cavaet though, and that is where do you draw the line between porn and art. Sally Mann took nude pictures of her daughter Aimee when she was very young and throughout her adolescence. Aimee turned out fine, the photos are art. Robert Mapplethorpe took photos of kids that were in some cases nude. Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition falsely claimed that Mapplethorpe had photographed naked children with a naked man (said picture never existed), which fueled the whole, "all homosexuals are pedophiles" nonsense, but I would, and the vast majority of art critics do call his photos art. Pornography is defined by the United States Supreme Court as obscene material, which is completely subjective... there's my sidenote.

2) You know where i stand on this. Sure Pornography may be a little more exotic than accounting, but so is being a dolphin trainer. Some jobs are seedier than others... once again, it's all relative.

3) Barbara Kruger comes to mind. And Miriam Shapiro and Judy Chicago, and Jenny Holzer as far as artists working for women's rights. Keith Haring had a vast body of social work, including his famous NYC mural, "Crack is Whack!" This month's PHOTO (the french edition) has a big feature on adverts with a social/political message. stuff like that...

On Aug.09.2004 at 08:12 PM
Steven’s comment is:

Heh, heh, heh!

Tan, dude, yer comment was #69 . . . Get it?!?

(okay, stepping away from the "Bevis" moment)

As someone who was raised by a mother who was VERY involved with Planned Parenthood while I went through childhood and adolescence, I just want to state that sex is a normal human activity. Sex is not wrong. There is nothing inherently wrong or dirty about the human body.

Now Kelly, you really do make some sweeping generalizations with cause and effect. I would need to see the correlations with the data, before I would be willing to accept your statements. And there is quite a large field between best- and worse-case scenarios. The question really lies in where the line of acceptability is drawn.

The deeper issue for me here is that the exploitation of human sexuality goes hand in hand with other types of human exploitation. The key to abating the abusive, exploitive nature of some pornography lies more deeply within the power relationships that some have towards others. Abusive porn is merely an embodiment of its abusive power relationship.

On the other hand, mildly titlating or even artfully created, sensually emotive porn could be considered as a positive cultural reinforcement.

In reality, porn, like prostitution, has probably existed in one form or another since the very beginnings of human culture. Rather than trying to dissuade or disavow our sexuality, we should be trying to find constructive, artful ways of expression that celebrate the human condition.

On Aug.09.2004 at 08:28 PM
RavenOne’s comment is:

Actually, I found the Sex issue of Print to be pretty interesting, and fairly tastefully done. From some of the comments, I was expecting something a bit more racey... Sure, there were people on it, and Dildos, and... things I don't know the name for in my sexual naivity and youth, but ...

I didn't feel too shocked or repulsed. I found the article on the kid getting in trouble over the font kinda funny. Especially when his editors missed it.

On Aug.10.2004 at 12:04 AM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

Studies have shown...

That one gets thrown around a lot. I've got another proposal: Kill the faux science.

What study? If I can't be bothered to remember what study showed the thing that backs up my argument, why should I be bothered to give your argument any weight.

How good was the study? I can find a study to show just about anything. And if I can't, I'm sure to find a media outlet that will interpret the study in the way I want. Then I can smugly throw my opinions around convinced I'm right because they are backed up by Science.

Show your sources, please.

-

Kelly, I think someone might be able to get somewhere with the sexualisation of children thing. I am actually able to conclude things, and I believe a number of other designers are as well. That could constitute a "we." And from that something could happen. How's that for hopeful, but vague.

On Aug.10.2004 at 09:17 AM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

One more thing: I really, really like sex.

On Aug.10.2004 at 09:18 AM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

Tan, as usual, is on target.

Any use of children in any exploitative way is wrong, period, for the simple reason that a child does not have the intellect or independence to say "no." Note: this statement does not lead to the inverse — that because only adults are involved an activity is exploitation free. Unfortunately, exploitation is a thriving, diversified way of doing business world-wide — perhaps t'was ever thus.

As anyone in recovery will tell you, "addiction" and self-destructive, addictive behaviors are not caused by the substance, but by the physiological/psychological neediness of the abuser and the peculiar ability of the substance of choice to address these needs. The only resistance to the seductions of addictive behaviors is a well-adjusted mind and love of life.

Kelly, I appreciate that your heart is in the right place, but your assertion, "...it is graphic designers who are ignorant if we see this as simply another art form worthy of our consideration as art or human expression," is simply hyberbole and an arrogant non-argument [that's been made against every transgressive art practice for centuries]. I am informed, but I disagree. Call me wrong, as is your right, but don't assume my disagreement can only be based on ignorance if you want debate beyond fundamentalism.

On Aug.10.2004 at 09:51 AM
Lea’s comment is:

Tan has elucidated the argument to me perfectly. In essense, he expanded on what I had basically mentioned: sex is a personal thing, and one can't feel more superior than another based on their view of this subject.

This is the best line in the entire discussion:

If you want to protect your kids — then teach them to value what you deem important, but don't teach them to judge, fear, or hate people who may disagree with you. Because that's wrong and evil. Tan, that may just be a Speak Up poster-worthy quote... ;-)

On Aug.10.2004 at 11:20 AM
Tan’s comment is:

>Show your sources, please.

Fair enough, Jeff. I should've been more specific, but since this whole thread has been filled with generalizations — I was hoping that my truthful hearsay information from memory was sufficient. I don't think I was smug about it, if that's what you're insinuating.

So it sounds like you disagree with my statement — that you think pedophilia and sexual violence is caused by the proliferation of sexual imagery and porn. Is this the case?

Look, I'm not saying that you and Kelly are wrong in how you feel. You have a right to your perspectives — which to some degree, I agree with. I just think that it's not accurate to blame and connect sexual imagery in the media and adult videos with the heinous crime of child pornography. They're clearly not the same things — which is why I brought that point up in the first place.

And I'm really impressed to know how much you love sex. Thanks for sharing.

On Aug.10.2004 at 11:24 AM
Tan’s comment is:

And thanks Lea.

On Aug.10.2004 at 11:27 AM
Kelly’s comment is:

I have some more questions that I want to pose, but I want to leave the above 3 questions up a little longer in case anyone else wants to weigh in on them.

Please take me at my word that I am trying to understand the variety of points of view out there and let's drop the stereotyping that I keep getting. People keep pulling the same assumptions out---that I or those who seem to oppose some levels of pornography are definitely in the "sex is yucky" mind set. Although the Jerry Falwell and John Ashcroft references make great sticks to wallup me with, please assume that I really am in this for a more constructive and meaningful dialogue.

I'll post some additional thoughts and questions later today or Wednesday.

On Aug.10.2004 at 11:27 AM
Tan’s comment is:

Ok, here's are some correlated studies on the effects of pornography and rape/sexual offences.

Here are some of the notable excerpts I found interesting.

"Contrary to the hypothesis, the results show that gender equality was higher in states characterized by higher circulation rates of pornography, suggesting that pornography and gender equality both flourish in politically tolerant societies." -- Feminist perspectives on sexuality. Baron,L. J. Sex Res. 1990 27:363-380.

"Contrary to predictions, subjects having greater exposure to sexual materials were found to express more liberal attitudes toward women in the area of sexual behavior." -- Exposure to pornography and attitudes about women and rape: A correlational study. Garcia,L.T. J. Sex Res. 1986 22: 378-38.

"Aggregate data on rape and other violent or sexual offenses in these 4 countries seem to exclude the possibility that the availability of pornography has any detrimental effects in the form of increased sexual violence." -- Pornography and rape: Theory and practice? Evidence from crime data in four countries where pornography is easily available. Kutchinsky,B. Int. J. Law Psych. 26: 47-64.

There's lots more, but you should read for yourself.

And it was impossible to find credible articles linking pornography and child-related pornography crimes, indicating as I had stated -- the two things are not related.

There are lots of websites set up by Christian Coalitions for family and children, and similar orgs that lump it all together into one festering pool of pornographic debauchery — but again, there's never empirical proof that standard, run-of-the-mill sexual imagery and adult pornography causes or creates pedophiles and child sex crimes. Anything less is just moralistic conjecture, "porn is bad" crap.

On Aug.10.2004 at 12:45 PM
Steven’s comment is:

Thanks for those quotes Tan. They point to the observation that societal openness about sexuality does not cause dysfuntional acts or interests, in and of itself.

Once again, rape, pedophilia, and other highly dysfunctional and exploitive acts are related to the perpetrator's abusive power relationship to the victim, not to sexuality. The need to be abusively dominant, to have physical and psychological control over others, this is the real source of their dysfunction. And sadly, this impulse is frequently caused because the perpetrator of the act was similarly abused himself; and thus he continues a cycle of violence.

(Yes, this last statement is a generalization, but one that, I believe, can be easily verified. Also, the reference to the perpetrator being male is made with the acknowledgement that, for the most part, sexually abusive behavior is commited by men; although I'm sure that there are a few messed-up women out there too.)

Frankly, IMHO, rather than trying to demonize pornography, we should be focusing on promoting mental health and sexuality, and removing the misogyny embedded in our historically-paternalistic societies.

On Aug.10.2004 at 01:57 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Btw, just for the record — I don't have a giant porn collection or sex dungeon or anything like that*. I kinda feel like Larry Flynt, having to defend porn all of a sudden.

I just don't think that porn is the end of civilization as some have made it out to be. There's so many other real evils in this world that need more attention than this. Honestly, it's just sex.

*(Although if I was, my porn name would be Ram Doubler. Armin, what was yours again? I can't remember...)

On Aug.10.2004 at 01:57 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

Tan, thanks for putting up some source material. I didn't actually have a strong opinion one way or another - I'd never seen much info about it.

There have been an awful lot of unsupported statements of "fact" on both sides in this conversation, and I was only picking on your because yours was the last one. (And because I rather enjoy picking on you. ;-)

-

Kelly wrote: "...please assume that I really am in this for a more constructive and meaningful dialogue."

I thought we all ought to read that again.

On Aug.10.2004 at 02:05 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Armin, what was yours again? I can't remember...

Bullet Point.

> I propose that it is time for this profession to put away childish titillation on such a serious topic and begin to lend our efforts to counter the singularly negative products and by-products of the pornography industry.

> As a responsible and socially contributing profession […]

More than half of this discussion has focused on pornography, which is OK, but in an effort to bring it back to graphic design and what we can do…

As with any other causes — be it saving the forest, the whales, the polar bear, the komodo dragon, whatever cause riles you up — it is up to you as a person not a graphic designer to do something about it. It just so happens that you can wield a mouse, hack up a poster, get it printed and paste it on the streets, distribute it among curchgoers, whatever. As a "group" we owe nothing to no one. Just because we have the "tools" to make something, anything, doesn't mean we have to embark on moral crusades for any cause that any one person thinks we should lend our services to. Some designers chose to help certain causes and that's totally fine and great and they deserve a medal; others chose not to. As graphic designers, as visually acute professionals, as message purveyors, we don't need to "accept any moral responsibility" that we have self-bestowed upon the profession to give it some ounce of credibility and relevance. Want to make a difference? Make it yourself. As a person, an individual, make it yours.

On Aug.10.2004 at 02:15 PM
Kelly’s comment is:

We’re all getting tired of this, right? I am about done, I promise.

Tan’s research possibly came from http://www.netspeed.com.au/ttguy/refs2.htm. But--and I wish this statistic was more in my favor--maybe 30% of the studies listed there showed the opposite conclusions from porn studies. One site, one researcher's preferred group of studies. All of which I think you will agree, shows the futility of throwing statistics around.

Here’s one sample . . . you can go look for yourselves . . . a listing of a lot of studies, most of them over a decade old:

An empirical investigation of the role of pornography in the verbal and physical abuse of women. Sommers,E.K. and Check,J.V. Violence and Victims 1987 2: 189-209.

Abstract: Studied the presence of pornography and both sexual and nonsexual violence in the lives of 44 battered women drawn from shelters and counseling groups, and a comparison group of 32 women from a mature university population. It was found that the partners of the battered subjects (Ss) read or viewed significantly greater amounts of pornographic materials than did the partners of the comparison group. In addition, 39% of the battered Ss (in contrast to 3% of the comparison group) responded in the affirmative to the question, “Has you partner ever upset you by trying to get you to do what he’d seen in pornographic pictures, movies or books?” It was also found that battered Ss experienced significantly more sexual aggression at the hands of their partners than did the Ss in the comparison group.

And one from: http://www.prckansas.org/articles/addictive_sexual_disorders.htm

Patterns of Sexual Addiction, Sexual Offense, and Sexual Exploitation--Addictive Sexual Disorders,

Richard R. Irons, MD, Jennifer P. Schneider, MD, PhD

Based on a survey of nearly 1,000 patients (81 percent male, 19 percent female) admitted for treatment of addictive sexual disorders, Carnes (1991) found that out of 104 behavioral items, 10 behavior types emerged; each type had a specific sexual focus with common characteristics.

Carnes, Nonemaker, and Skilling (1991) observed significant gender differences in the incidence of these behavior types. Under the influence of addiction, men tended to engage in behavioral excesses that objectify their partners and require little emotional involvement (voyeuristic sex, paying for sex, anonymous sex, and exploitative sex). A trend toward emotional isolation was clear.

Here are a few final questions.

4 --- I haven’t read much of the reviews on these two magazines yet (except Veronique's on the AIGA site), but I am curious about others’ responses to the depiction of women in many of the images shown in Print. Did anyone find them offensive? Did any of the female readers among us find them degrading? I anticipated a huge outcry. Maybe there was one and I missed it.

5 --- In my original essay, I posed the idea that pornography shouldn’t be considered as aesthetically valued “art” and several of you rightly pointed out that aesthetics is not always the purpose of art, or in our case, design. I agree and concede that point.

But here’s a follow up question: assuming that sexual images are not being used by a client like . . . whose ad was it shown in Print? Yves Saint Laurent? . . . to inform or persuade, then they likely fall into the category of entertainment. Correct? Or decoration?

If so, what is the ultimate value to you and I as designers for Print or Step to present them in their magazines -- not to mention the motivation of whoever the original client was?

Create awareness? Stimulate debate? Critique it? Emulate it?

Does their publication in these magazines fall into the same category as reviewing movie posters or book covers? What are the ethics of using sexual images -- outside of porn magazines and the like -- for a non-porn industry?

Sex sells, right?

6 -- Rick’s article in Print points out “the rapid normalization of porn.” Where does that take us? If designers and advertising art directors continue to “push the envelope” what happens in the future? Do we cross any lines where something finally does become obscene? Especially if it is in the mainstream media where it does come uninvited into the eye of those who should not (children) or who do not want to see it?

Thanks for the discussion. I have enjoyed this. If others have the interest in continuing, I'll chime in now and then.

Armin, this is a great service to this profession. Thanks.

KB

On Aug.10.2004 at 03:14 PM
Tan’s comment is:

I'm about out of steam as well.

I agree w/ you about statistics and studies, Kelly. They are never definitive, and you can always find an equal number to support both sides of any debate.

I just have one point to consider — those studies you cited are interesting in the fact that they are basically confirming that sex offenders and abusers tend to also consume pornography (or have emotional problems in general). But if you follow the logic correctly, it does not mean that pornography causes the disorder for abuse in the first place. That would be like saying "44% of abused women were beaten by their husbands with bats — therefore, it can be concluded that men who own baseball bats tend to abuse their spouses." That logic is faulty.

But whatever the case...

You know, this is a great discussion, one that was prompted by Print's willingness to produce the Sex issue in the first place. I think it has accomplished exactly what was intended — to stir adult, professional debate and critical discourse on the matter among designers and readers.

On Aug.10.2004 at 04:23 PM
Kelly’s comment is:

The room seems really quiet, doesn't it Tan? Is it just you and I left here? Thanks for the feedback . . . very helpful.

Anyone else before we turn out the lights?

On Aug.10.2004 at 05:11 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Just wanted to say Tom Dolan’s post was finely articulated.

(*burp*. Damn. Those beers were good.)

Kelly, re: your evidence to retort's Tan...look at the sample group. Of the battered women, a high percentage had spoused addicted to porn. That does not mean porn = battered wives. Only that spouses that batter tend to have other mental issues...one which could be sexual addictions.

You're trying to connect violonce and child explotation to porn without connecting the dots in between. The studies cited don't make those connections either.

Sex sells, right?

Does sex sell everywhere? Or is that a US-centric thing compared to more openly sexual cultures like Japan or parts of Europe? Does sex sell only because it's semi-taboo here?

Anyone else before we turn out the lights?

*click*

;o)

On Aug.10.2004 at 05:22 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

click.

Does sex sell everywhere? Or is that a US-centric thing...

Sex sells Everywhere. Watch some commercials & look at some advertisements from around the world. Travel a bit. You'll see.

On Aug.10.2004 at 06:39 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

> Travel a bit. You'll see.

Exactly where have you traveled, for what purpose, and how long have you stayed there?

Travel enough, and to places a bit beyond the friggin' Danube and those Travel Channel top-10 lists, and you'll see that for every person downloading kiddie porn there are 1000 people* who suffer real misery** because too many people in countries that control the world are worried about the wrong things. They're not bad people - they are made to worry about the wrong things, because that's good for business. Their only fault is being gullible. Travel is in fact the only possible cure, as long as you do it to get in touch with the World, not to come back and tell your buddies "Yeah, I did a klong".

* And don't ask me for some idiotic, rigged source for those numbers.

** http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/04/europe_black_life/html/1.stm

Travel, and you will be filled with compassion, sadness, and most of all love.

hhp

On Aug.11.2004 at 12:53 AM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

Travel, and you will be filled with compassion, sadness, and most of all love.

I agree. At least that's what I got from my time in Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Russia, France, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Macau & China.*

I also happened to notice that everywhere I've been, sex sells, and so I answered Darrel's question.

-

don't ask me for some idiotic, rigged source for those numbers.

all I said was that if you were going to put Science on your side (i.e. "stuides show") like Kelly & Tan & others, tell us your souces.

Chill, buddy. You're crankier than I am.

-

*No, I wasn't on holiday. No, I'm not going to say what I was doing because then someone would feel compelled to make to make snide remarks about what a remarkable humanitarian I am, and I'm not.

-

What's a klong?

On Aug.11.2004 at 04:59 AM
George Putnam’s comment is:

"Modern technology lends itself to the promulgation of decadence...Through this material, today's youth can be stimulated to sexual activity for which he has no legitimate outlet. He is even enticed to enter the world of homosexuals, lesbians, sadists, masochists and other sex deviants."

Part I and Part II

On Aug.11.2004 at 08:35 AM
Armin’s comment is:

And — relating to the original topic — an interesting read on The New York Observer about Print's Sex Issue with commentary from Print's Senior Editor Joyce Rutter Kaye. Thanks to Design Observer for the link.

On Aug.11.2004 at 08:42 AM
Rob’s comment is:

As Tan said, the talking about child porn isn't going to make a point. Unless we have some pedophiles in the group, no one in their right mind would say that child pornography is a good or acceptable thing. And that's why it's illegal and people who participate in it are arrested and put in jail when they are caught.

As far as limiting children's access to pornography, last time I looked, that's a parent's job. As a parent myself, I have a responsibility to teach my childern honestly and straightforward about the world around them. And once they are grown up, I can only hope that with the knowledge and direction I share, that they will be able to make the right decisions for themselves and others as they grow.

2 ---

'Porn' is like any other business. As long as there's an audience willing to pay for it, it's a legitimate — and quite lucrative — business. And whether you participate in it is all up to your personal choice. And since pornography itself — this is separate from sexual imagery used in media — is a choice, it is certainly no different than any other medium protected by the First Amendment. Some people like to watch sports, some like to keep up with the news and some people just like to look a pictures of naked people or people performing acts of sex.

3 ---

The people who work in the pornography industry certainly know what they are getting themselves into, in most cases, so how could anyone say they are being exploited? These people made the choice, they get paid for their work and that's that.

Far fewer people have been killed by watching pornography than have by smoking cigarettes. Or drinking and driving. I'm sure more lives have been ruined by corporate greed and unneeded military conflicts. (And hasn't the US always used the implication of 'sex' to entertain solidiers in the field for who knows how long?) Oh, and let us not forget drug dealer's whose product truly rips at the fabric of society, leading to murders, muggings, robbery and a host of other crimes.

If the addictions are personal than it's a person's family and the person in question that have the most responsibility to manage their addictions and keep themselves out of trouble. Society has enough issues to deal with as it is. Putting the responsibility of managing addiction is not the role of society as a whole when there is financial gain. This is why Prohibition didn't work and the bootleg 'wars' were much more damaging then the legal use and sale of alcohol.

So, in other words, it comes down to choice. Like many other things that some people in this country like to declare as evil, based on their choices sex and/or pornography are just another individual freedom that one is able to partipate or not particpate in.

On Aug.11.2004 at 09:09 AM
Mick’s comment is:

I suppose I could be considered a "child" in this arguement, since i'm below the "legal" age of 18. Personally, I don't see what the point is in actually trying to protect us from pornography is. In my experience, if some teenage boys didn't have access to pornography, they made it themselves (they drew it, fyi). I myself first saw a penis when I was in pre-school, as did the rest of my class, because of one very open young boy. In grade school, when children are playing "doctor" what exactly do you think they are doing? "i'll show you mine if you show me your's" plays in here really well. From a young age, children are discovering their own sexuality - and sometimes it includes other children of their own age, sometimes children of the same sex.

By teaching them that sex is dirty, and shouldn't be spoken of, they're only being taught to be ashamed of themselves, and of what they feel. Sexual urges are natural to anyone -even the most prudish of all of you.

As a censor, religion is a very strong force, and in the past it has deemed what we now see as art as pornographic. Didn't certain Popes paint over the nudes in the Sistine Chapel, and hack off all the penises of nude statues?

We live in a society that glamorizes mindless killing in movies, but throw in a couple of breasts, and damn, you've got something small children should NEVER see. How about they go watch "The Day After Tomorrow" instead? (A much more traumatizing movie, imo)

I say we should all be trying to open people up about sex. There's nothing weird about it. It's the human body! He has one, you have one, i have one. I'm not sure you're trying to protect children from pornography. Maybe you're just trying to protect YOURSELF from accepting that your child is a sexual being, with the same urges you had when you concieved him.

[And I'm writing this from the viewpoint of a teenager - informed as horribly as i am, in response to the idea that children should be protected from pornography. ... I don't know... maybe I'm a little *too* young to be involved in such things. Does anyone feel the need to shield me from the world?]

I dare you to find a 16 year old boy who hasn't thought about breasts. I DARE YOU.

On Aug.11.2004 at 09:30 AM
Tan’s comment is:

I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU.

so there.

On Aug.11.2004 at 12:40 PM
danhq’s comment is:

'How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world that has such people in it!'

praise ford.

On Aug.11.2004 at 03:21 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Actually, I think this is the best quote of the entire thread, if not the month on SU.

"I dare you to find a 16 year old boy who hasn't thought about breasts."

Thanks Mick. Now go back to your stashed porn.

On Aug.11.2004 at 04:06 PM
Armin’s comment is:

I would up that and say that Mick's overall comment has been one of the most sincere, no bullshit comments in a while.

On Aug.11.2004 at 04:35 PM
rebecca’s comment is:

I suspect that your gay male readership would beg to differ.

On Aug.11.2004 at 05:03 PM
Armin’s comment is:

"Sincere" and "no bullshit" does not mean that people have to agree. And I was not zeroing in on the boob comment, it was the overall tone of the comment…in the way it portrayed his opinion. Do I agree? Do you agree? Doesn't exactly matter.

On Aug.11.2004 at 06:20 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Do I agree? Do you agree? Doesn't exactly matter.

Sorry, that came out wrong. It does matter.

On Aug.11.2004 at 06:34 PM
Tan’s comment is:

That's a good point rebecca — open sexuality applies to everyone, straight or gay. I didn't mean to be exclusionary, and I don't think Mick did either. His point was that it's perfectly normal for teenagers to think about, even be a little obsessed with sex. Be it boy or girl, straight or gay, breasts or penises. It's all normal human nature.

On Aug.11.2004 at 06:51 PM
Mick’s comment is:

Sorry to disappoint you all but I happen to be female. Vagina and all.

On Aug.11.2004 at 08:43 PM
Mick’s comment is:

oh. i forgot about homosexuals didn't i?

how disappointing.

i should've caught that.

On Aug.11.2004 at 08:44 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>I happen to be female.

Ha! Not disappointed at all...that's even better, and proves that we're all the same.

Sorry for assuming your gender from your name, Mick. Someone like me—named Tan—should know better :-)

Just curious about one thing — do girls stash porn too? Wait...don't answer that.

On Aug.12.2004 at 11:06 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

How In the Name of ... did I miss this discussion.

*(Although if I was, my porn name would be Ram Doubler. Armin, what was yours again? I can't remember...)

Bullet Point

Hey Guys, Mine would be,

JAW BREAKER

On Aug.12.2004 at 07:31 PM
Mick’s comment is:

I like Rosy Cheeks.

On Aug.12.2004 at 08:46 PM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

Actually I think to get your design porn name you take the last name of your favorite type designer and use it as your first name, use the first letter of your favorite graphic designer as the middle name and take the street that you work on as the last name.

Bilak S. Jasper

On Aug.12.2004 at 09:12 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

That would make me

Storm F. Maes-y-Llan

How am I supposed to get any work with a last name like that?

On Aug.13.2004 at 03:55 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Not get all serious about these porn names, but the idea behind Tan's and mine is that they somehow are related to design…

So, Johnson Box, is up for grabs.

On Aug.13.2004 at 11:15 AM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

Moralizing aside...

Print's Sex issue* was a sometimes intelligent, sometimes silly, and certainly small view on the enormous world of sexuality and sex. It struck me as very American in its stance (echoing Hrant's comments here), but hardly harmful.

*I didn't read the Step issue.

Kelly's statments are, in part, a great question to consider (the idea of how 'Design' reacts to things, and what we do and do not react to), but he only addressed one aspect: pornography. In doing so, he opened Speak Up as a pulpit for anti- and pro-porn rants, not a relevant discussion of Print and Step.

Pornography is just a manifestation of human sexuality, which is inherently valueless (neither good nor evil). The way we act out our sexuality is what matters, since sexuality is in everyone. And that's what Print was trying to examine in its own academic and design-oriented manner. So why blast Print for addressing sex and its related manifestations? Why not talk about how it addresses sex? There's no need to teach us all about the Evils of Porn. This thread won't change our minds. Speak to the subject instead of using two design magazines' issues on sexuality to justify a rant about the porn industry and its "extreme manipulation, coercion, profiteering, and addiction."

I could go on and challenge some of the ridiculous views on sex and pornography that've been espoused here, but that's not the point. The point is that Design is complicit in the expression of sex and sexuality in our world, particularly in the mainstream and in popular culture. So how do we address our own roles? I doubt that most of us will ever lay out a porn spread, but how many of us have worked on or will work on a women's magazine, or a perfume ad, or a movie poster, or a beer commercial... ? How do we address sexuality in our work, which is often the vehicle for expressing/communicating these ideas? Is it appropriate to voice your dissent in the face of a client or employer about sexuality as a marketing device, or should we back off and do the job? Is sexuality a legitimate marketing tool because it is part of everyone on Earth? Or is it something we should avoid because we are sexualizing material objects and manipulating our fellow humans' most basic motivators for profit?

I think Marian's response (#2) hit on a great theme that is often ignored in foaming arguments like this: not everyone is the same, so stop treating them that way. We (designers in general) aren't a solid collective of like-minded individuals, we are a loose collective of similarly skilled, similarly tasked professionals and enthusiasts.

On Aug.13.2004 at 11:16 AM
Tom B’s comment is:

What's wrong with using sex to sell things? We use people's greed all the time - it's the basis of nearly all forms of marketing.

If we think we can persuade people to part with their money just because of a beautiful page layout, or a brand with superior moral attitudes, then we're being delusional I'm afraid.

I'd even go further and say that, yes, the use of sex in the context of marketing is indeed pornography. When we look at an attractive, semi-nude model appearing in an ad, this isn't an act of sex (comparable to the loving act we share with our partners), it's an act of titilation. It turns us on - that's what sells.

But what's wrong with being turned on?

There's nothing wrong with pornography per se (I was surprised to hear that the supreme court defines it as obscene material, rather than titilating or something). The purpose of pornography isn't to offend us.

What is wrong is exploitation in any form, and unfortunately too many people in the pornography business exert unfair control over other people.

However, as others have pointed out, this is the case for all businesses, not just pornography.

What annoys me is when we try to pretend that we're somehow above titilation - Pornography is for the proles, not for me!. Walk into the Art & Design section of any bookstore and you'll see heaps of lavishly produced, beauiful books of pornography. We buy these books for the very same reason we buy Playboy - to be turned on.

And again I'll say - What's wrong with that?

When we begin to adopt a more sensible attitude to pornography - what about a 'pornography' section in the bookstores? - we can get rid of the really nasty, exploitative stuff, we can start to enjoy sex and pornography (marketing messages included) without the guilt.

On Aug.14.2004 at 05:18 AM
Devin ’s comment is:

This has to be one of the most influential articles I have read in some time.

As a designer, I feel that we very much overlook the dangers that we as an occupation can influence over media. Our imagery is powerful, our ideas, and creations rival most headlines. We as a group do need to stand up and fight pornography. You can already see the great impact it has on people just by reading the replies. I think it would be awesome to do a series of designs/posters to fight pornography. Show the world that we will not stoop to the uncreative, boring, dull, numb imagery that pornography has.

Thanks for having the courage to stand up! I stand behind you.

On Aug.17.2004 at 02:35 AM
axe’s comment is:

I agree with Devin, an anti-porn piece would be cool. Not a preaching type poster, maybe a parody or something, which could show how basically cheesy porno really is. Although it would probably be much like fighting prostitution - a downhill battle for sure. Maybe just a humorous type thing.

On Aug.17.2004 at 01:26 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> We as a group do need to stand up and fight pornography.

Um, no, we don't. I already mentioned this previously on this thread. You want to stand up to pornography? That's fine, but don't make this into a crusade that we as a group must undertake.

Sorry for the bitchy tone, but really…

On Aug.17.2004 at 01:46 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>Show the world that we will not stoop to the uncreative, boring, dull, numb imagery that pornography has.

I didn't really want to respond to this, but can't help it. This is such an ignorant statement.

Sex and nudity has been prevalent in art since man could draw and paint. Nudity and sexual acts are depicted...no, celebrated...in everything from Egyptian heiroglyphics, to Greek and Roman reliefs, Indian/Asian/Japanese paintings and scrolls, classic Rennaissance art, and so on.

Needless to say, these works of history are anything but dull, boring imagery.

How do you make the distinction between nudity and pornography? And more importantly, when you term it as dull, numb imagery — are you referring to the human body, the ellicit act of sex, the style and depiction of photography, or the immorality of what that imagery represents? What exactly do you find dull and numb?

If it's the last reason, then it has no place in a design discussion. Go discuss about it with your church group or something and don't waste people's time with your moral crusade.

On Aug.17.2004 at 02:14 PM
JLee’s comment is:

Go discuss about it with your church group or something and don't waste people's time with your moral crusade.

Atta boy Tan! You really put him in his place. Thanks for making SpeakUp a forum for "all" ideas and opinions.

On Aug.17.2004 at 04:05 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Yeah, Tan, go discuss with your anger management group or something and don't waste people's time with your crusade to rid us of people with moral crusades!

Sorry, I'm in a bitchy and sarcastic mood today. And, just kidding of course, Tan does not go to anger management groups. Right?

On Aug.17.2004 at 04:19 PM
Tom B’s comment is:

...maybe a parody or something, which could show how basically cheesy porno really is.

Come on! Do you really think you can stop people exploiting others by showing them that pornorgaphy is cheesy.

Maybe we should get together and campaign to fight obesity with a parody that shows how basically horrible fast food is.

Or how about a campaign to fight drug dealing with a parody that shows how taking drugs makes you dance like a fool.

No, lets not.

On Aug.17.2004 at 04:19 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>Thanks for making SpeakUp a forum for "all" ideas and opinions.

Hey, I'm all for ideas pertaining to design, the profession, economics, business, just about anything that has to do with the professional and educational side of design. Even your sarcasm has value. After all, Speak-Up is a design forum and community.

Like I said, if you want to talk about or protest porn in its relation to design — then fine. Talk about the visual roots of it, the business of it, the production, quality, cost, skill involved with making, filming, selling, acting, packaging, whatever of it. That's all cool within the context of SU. But don't moralize about it — calling for the "group" to stand up and fight pornography. Based on what? What exactly is the "danger" of porn? Who's the "group" that's suppose to unite against what — having sex, depicting sex, buying depictions of sex, or just the general, undefined idea of pornography?

I'm not slamming shut anyone's opinions — just challenging it. People here are adults and most are professionals — let's elevate the discourse to something higher than this Puritanical, obtuse-minded bullshit.

>Tan does not go to anger management groups. Right?

bro, I'm the fucking poster child.

On Aug.17.2004 at 04:39 PM
Devin’s comment is:

No one here is trying to proselytize you Tan, especially me. As far as prehistoric reference to sex and nudity. . . yes, I agree it is important. There are however ways of depicting those acts, without having to be so extremely hardcore. I don't feel I need to define hardcore for you, I'm pretty sure you can draw that line in the sand yourself.

The other thing to remember is that pornography and sex addiction is progressive. Most child pornography users have said that they started with their dads playboy, and it grew into something far more intense. How then can you excuse the fact that $3 billion dollars was made on exploiting children. Are you willing to openly say that child porn is art?

---- interesting...

On Aug.19.2004 at 10:58 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

> $3 billion dollars was made on exploiting children.

That seems way too low for Nike.

hhp

On Aug.20.2004 at 01:06 AM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

Devin —

I suggest a better grasp of American spending through the use of context.

For example, the Toy Manufacturers of America states that children ages 5 to 14: spent $27 billion in 1997, directly influenced $117 billion in purchases, and indirectly influenced an additional $400 billion. According to the American Sportfishing Association, Americans spend $38 billion a year on fishing trips and gear.

And we're not even talking about defense spending.

On Aug.20.2004 at 10:22 AM
Tan’s comment is:

>Most child pornography users have said that they started with their dads playboy, and it grew into something far more intense.

I'm in no way defending child pornography, but your logic in the resulting assumption of this statement is incorrect.

First of all, let's assume that your above statement is true. What that tells me is that pedophiles tend to seek legal, adult smut mags like Playboy at a young age, before they're old enough to source or find the illegal child porn stuff. Ok, tragic, but expected.

But what you're inferring is that the developmental escalation of that pedophile is caused by Playboy, and therefore, all readers of Playboys have a penchant to become pedophiles.

That's ludicrous.

That's like saying that heroin addicts tend to chain smoke and drink lots of coffee — therefore, anyone who loves Starbucks and smokes will probably become a heroin addict.

Child porn is a horrible, detestable thing. No one's arguing w/ you. But you and Kelly are using that issue as a launching pad to moralize on the evils of everything from Playboys to the Print Sex Issue to nudity in design in general. That's opportunistic and wrong.

>There are however ways of depicting those acts, without having to be so extremely hardcore. I don't feel I need to define hardcore for you, I'm pretty sure you can draw that line in the sand yourself.

What about the Indian Kama Sutra scrolls? Or nudes and erotic art in Renaissance art? Is "The Kiss" sculpture by Rodin pornography?

The problem is — your gauge of "hardcore" and pornography isn't other people's.

>Are you willing to openly say that child porn is art?

once again, you're purposely and opportunistically being misdirective instead of directly rebutting my point that erotic art and nudity has been prevalent throughout history.

try again if you have a real point to make here.

On Aug.20.2004 at 11:55 AM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

Here's a long and interesting article. Well worth reading if you have strong feelings on this subject.

On Aug.22.2004 at 10:56 AM
Ralph McGinnis’s comment is:

I obviously had a very different take on this than most people. I found the "sex" issue of Print to be flaccid, wishy-washy and ill-informed. Read my reviewhttp://www.homorobotic.org/rem/2004/08/vanilla-print.html" target="_blank"> here.

On Aug.23.2004 at 08:04 PM
Laura’s comment is:

Big Steve,

you wrote:

"Sally Mann took nude pictures of her daughter Aimee when she was very young and throughout her adolescence. Aimee turned out fine, the photos are art."

Her daughter's name is Jessie, and she wasn't always "fine."

"I had a drinking problem from the time I was thirteen, and that's been the number-one strain on my relationship with my Mom." Jessie Mann on Being Photographed, Aperture no162 (Winter 2001).

I agree with some of the points you've made, but please be sure to check your facts : )

On Aug.25.2004 at 07:56 AM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

Coincidentally, since this thread began, my studio has been engaged to work on materials surrounding the upcoming publication of a new book by noted photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, called XXX — the book will feature dyptich portraits of thirty of the best known adult film actors, and include essays on the subject from such notable thinkers as Gore Vidal, Salman Rushdie, Adam Gopnik, John Malkovich, A.M. Holmes, Lou Reed, and Whitley Strieber. There are also statements from each actor, many of which raise provocative viewpoints far more shaded than some of the polarizing perspectives above. It's an extraordinary body of work, in my opinion, in the highest tradition of figurative representation. I'd encourage experiencing it, with open eyes and open mind.

On Aug.26.2004 at 09:07 AM
wastedmytime’s comment is:

So THIS is how you "design" people think and talk.

Unbelievable. I guess you ARE good at illusions.

On Jun.29.2005 at 04:27 AM
Lyndi Parrett’s comment is:

even though this is an old posting about the sex issue i have to comment- we are so lucky to be in an industry that allows for anything to be done, seen, or said. if it is rude, crude, or wrong in someones eyes than it has done its job! why look at art if you forget it? i would rather look at something that either makes me gag or cry to push me outside of myself.

On Jun.29.2005 at 04:26 PM