Friday, January 04, 2008

on identity and hubba-hubba flicks

Wired continues its run as one of the best magazines around. They just posted a very intriguing article called "Deaf Porn Gives Viewers an Eye-Opener."

I find this interesting. The porn industry has always been on a weird sort of cutting edge. If there's a new media technology out there, chances are that the porn industry is among the first to take advantage of it. Many people argue that videocassette players really only saturated the home market because of porn. I've also read that porn is largely responsible for the push of broadband internet access.

Now, however, porn is being used as a tool of a minority group...and, if I'm reading the interview right, this is more than just "someone's finally catering to us as a group"...which would be weird enough, because I really doubt that having subtitles is really that enlightening to anything other than how stupid the dialog normally can be. This reminds me of when Trio used to be on DirecTV and played classic porn with all the dirty stuff cut out under the name "Good Clean Porn"; it is admittedly entertaining, but only in a B-Movie kind of way, and there's a limited market for that kind of stuff, the continuing success of Steven Seagal aside.

No, porn here is being used as a tool of enlightenment. The company founder makes his goals explicit: "The fact that we are marketing porn with a "disability" actually invites people to discover what we're about."

I'm torn. Is the goal here to gain mainstream acceptance for their group? If so, could having their own brand of pornography really do that? Or is this just going to further mark them as a separate group? Could they instead be pushing themselves as a fetish group? If so, is this a positive step for deaf America?

I like to tell my students that you should be willing to analyze anything and think about anything in depth, that they should take everything seriously as a subject for pondering. And I am glad that I get to think more about deafness as a social group, and the community building versus mainstream acceptance is a debate well worth considering. However, I just never thought that debate would be prompted by a company that produces titles like Naughty Deaf Roommates.

Yes, the world is more complex than anyone would imagine. Porn is just exhibit one.

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