[Milton-L] Re: porno vs. art?

James Rovira jrovira at drew.edu
Fri Nov 25 12:33:13 EST 2005

These definitions do have some currency legally:


This is a very difficult subject, of course, but "prurient intent" and 
other indirect language of intent is often invoked.

Honestly, though, these responses seem to demonstrate an incorrigible 
resistance to common sense.  Is it really that hard to see the 
difference in intent between Debbie Does Dallas and Michelangelo's 
David?  You should notice that some of the court judgments distinguished 
between "normal sexual response" and the responses that pornography 
attempt to stimulate.  I can have seen in different films scenes in 
which a couple were simply kissing, fully dressed, and yet the scene was 
arousing -- but hardly pornographic.

The point of context, of course, has nothing to do with "where you can 
read Hustler." It has more to do with where you go to purchase Hustler. 
  You'll never purchase a Hustler in a major metropolitan museum.  Nor 
will it be appreciated if you try to read one there.  Nicole Kidman's 
performance in the stage production described in a forward to this list 
earlier this week (thank you) probably wasn't the same as live sex shows 
you can watch in the bad part of town, though it's possible Kidman's was 
a borderline case. Either way, I'm pretty confident I'll not see 
anything like a live sex show in any professionally staged performance 
at a large venue around my city.

For that matter, if Kidman were to perform at a Rachel's or a Doll's 
House  (venues featuring topless waitresses who do lap dances for tips) 
her performance would mean something different there than in a small 
local theater in England.

It's very difficult to imagine that context doesn't matter.

That definitions still allow for borderline cases doesn't invalidate the 
   validity of the definitions to cover most cases.

Jim R.

Richard Strier wrote:
> Supposed criteria:
> intent-- notoriously difficult to establish and, in many accounts of 
> aesthetic value, irrelevant.
> context-- this bears (bares?) no scrutiny.  One can read Hustler in an 
> elegant setting, and see Debbie Does Dallas in a museum.
> appropriateness of erotic response-- involves us in a circle.  Who is to 
> say?  I think it's perfectly appropriate to find the Venus de Milo, 
> Titian paintings, Michelangelo's David, Mapplethorpe photos, etc, etc 
> sexually arousing (among other things).  It takes a bizarre theory, I 
> think, to say that such responses are "illegitimate."  And once one says 
> this, more problems arise:  1) who is going to police them?; 2) does 
> classifying responses negatively make them go away?

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