March 22, 2014

Undertheorized.

Alexis C. Madrigal at The Atlantic attempts to explain why the academic journal "Porn Studies" is needed:
[S]o many people look at so much porn... And yet the majority of Americans say looking at porn is "wrong." Porn is a national contradiction baked into the daily ablutions of hundreds of millions of people.
Baked into ablutions, eh? Okay. I don't see much contradiction in the belief that something is wrong and the doing of it anyway. Isn't that part of the charm? Madrigal continues:
So pornography remains undertheorized.
"Undertheorized" is a funny word. Almost as funny as "ablutions." But you see the point: To declare something "undertheorized" is to long for academic study. For example, I found a law review article (humorously) titled "The Under-Theorized Asterisk Footnote" (by Charles A. Sullivan):
The asterisk footnote... identifies the author... This footnote is used by every scholar but analyzed by none. This scholarly inattention is shocking given the remarkable growth and development of the asterisk footnote over the last 40 years. This Article is the first effort to address this gaping lacuna in scholarship. It is my hope (perhaps not my expectation) that it will launch a wave of asteriskian studies that will throw new light on the legal academy.
So... what else is undertheorized? What is overtheorized? What is better left undertheorized?

Who are the people who go into theorizing, and why would they specialize in porn?

(I remember when a certain type of feminist went seriously theoretical over porn. "Pornography is the theory, and rape is the practice." The theory is that it is the theory. But that theory fell out of fashion.)

37 comments:

Hagar said...

The disappearance of Flight MH370?

Michael K said...

It's just a way of justifying watching porn as "research."

Nice gig for a teenager.

cubanbob said...

What is under theorized is why there is such a plethora of hacks that play-act at being wannabe serious academicians.

Mountain Maven said...

I suppose I'll be paying for this too as a tax and tuition payer.

Shouting Thomas said...

The entire purpose of porn is to exist outside of the law.

Women are herd animals. They are compelled to codify a set of rules and demand that all other women follow them.

You can see this clearly in Althouse's determination to domesticate gaydom.

This will fail, too. Not for the lezzies, who share the female compulsion to codify a set of rules, but for gay men. Men don't want government/academic approved sex. Gay men even more so.

n.n said...

Perhaps Madrigal meant abortion, as in ritual blood sacrifice, when she wrote ablution, but her conscience was censored by her ego.

Michael said...

What fucking luck! The academic in California who is being charged with assault, etc is, inaddition to a feminist scholar, something of an expert on porn. I think she might be theorizing quite a bit. I think an into is in order.

Shouting Thomas said...

The great moral tale of the liberal determination to codify and legitimize porn was played out in San Francisco in the late 60s and early 70s.

Not by coincidence, that effort collapsed into an epidemic of crime and homelessness and the AIDS epidemic. Althouse religiously ignores this episode for the obvious reasons.

The ultimate denouement of above ground, legitimized porn was the Dark Brothers' production company, which tried to deliver the much promised "porn with a plot." Addicted to coke and half maddened by the whoring, one of the Dark Brothers killed his sibling.

Shouting Thomas said...

Back in the 60s, we always had one or two hipster professors who were into porn and claimed that their interest was "academic."

Invariably, their real interest was in screwing coeds.

SteveR said...

What is there to study? We know why people watch it and we know the reasons people perform it. And we know that there are a wide variety of types and quality. I think many people have already conducted their own studies. Its not complicated.

Shouting Thomas said...

What is there to study?

More make work jobs for women with no hard job skills and worthless liberal arts degrees.

rhhardin said...

Bullshit had no theory, said Harry Frankfurt in his first paragraph.

rhhardin said...

Levinas has a nice chapter on the phenomenology of the erotic in an appendix to Totality and Infinity.

Deadly accurate for the male point of view. I am informed not for the female.

Partly online with missing pages, as is google's way, here.

Revenant said...

The ultimate denouement of above ground, legitimized porn was the Dark Brothers' production company, which tried to deliver the much promised "porn with a plot." Addicted to coke and half maddened by the whoring, one of the Dark Brothers killed his sibling.

Your melodramatic attempt at a cautionary tale would be a little less funny if you'd gotten their names right. You're thinking of the Mitchell brothers, of O'Farrell Theater fame. Also, the cokehead brother was the victim -- the shooter was sober.

"Dark Brothers" was the name of Greg Dark's production company. His brothers (if he had any) were never involved in the business, and Dark himself does music videos and mainstream films now.

mesquito said...

"Theorize" is a word to describe how lefty academics suck the joy and the life out if everything.

betamax3000 said...

Comedy Stage Open Mic Night Comic says:

Porn? Huh? What is that? (laughter) Really: now, I've watched videos of people f**king, but I've always assumed it was French Art (laughter) -- especially when there are Nazi uniforms involved (laughter)...

Just because I am masturbating to it, does that mean it is not art? Me, I can appreciate art in less than three minutes, usually (laughter).

Seriously: if a blind man were to watch a stripper on a pole versus Swan Lake would he be able to appreciate the difference? (laughter)That was a trick question, mind you: the blind man would know the difference between Tchaikovsky and Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" (laughter)...

Speaking of pole dancing,I am either dangerously close to World War Two politics or some Helen-Keller-as-a-Stripper jokes (laughter), so I think it is best if I just thank you for being a great audience, Good Night...





rhhardin said...

And don't forget John Tierney's NYT article, back when the NYT published real stuff, here.

A theory of strip clubs.

John said...

When I was a teen I used to read Playboy and Penthouse for the writing.

They sure had some good writers in those days.

In addition to the naked pics, which I didn't look at.

John Henry

Mary Beth said...

Does "baked into the daily ablutions" even make sense?

Shouting Thomas said...

Your melodramatic attempt at a cautionary tale would be a little less funny if you'd gotten their names right.

And, here I was hoping to get that make work grant to produce a scholarly study on porn!

dbp said...

Doing something even as you know it is wrong is no contradiction. I doubt that many (or possibly) anybody thinks of porn as cleansing. They might partake of porn routinely and ablutions are usually routine too but ablution does not mean routine, it means bathing or washing.

Shouting Thomas said...

I think I'll still apply for that grant.

I could easily spend a couple of years studying Lucy Thai.

In fact, I'm researching her illustrious career for free!

jr565 said...

There is very little to theorize about when it comes to porn. Its simply wank material. Not something to major in in college.

harrogate said...

I would think that conservatives would embrace college classes focusing more on porn. Porn is "useful" and "practical" as I noted on another thread. There will always be a market for porn. What if "theorizing" means understanding the most efficient way to operate the porn industry? What if it were cross listed in Vaunted Business Schools?

So many conservatives these days seek to want college to be some version of a trade school. Well, here is a good start: theorize it, then eventually you can have classes for the "practice" of it.

Shouting Thomas said...

@harrogate.

I'm down.

But, how do you plan to wrench the biz out of the hands of organized crime?

Those boys have been doing their research into whoring and its related businesses for centuries.

Porn always lead the way in web technology. One of my most interesting (but ultimately dreary) jobs during the dotcom boom was digitizing an entire library of porn videos originally shot on film.

The Godfather said...

The Atlantic article says that "researchers and critics choose to do work on less fraught, less important topics" than porn. Is it really the case that (a) there are topics even less important than porn and (b) someone is actually studying them?

Academe must be in worse shape than anyone feared.

glenn said...

I know big words, bow down to me.

Shouting Thomas said...

White guys from Wisconsin advance to Sweet 16!

White Guy Pride Parade Planned for tomorrow, right?

Well, no, that's not the right sort of pride.

Stephen said...

Per the Business Insider (11/5/12): "But for the select few females who make it to the top of the industry, paychecks can be "'upward of $350,000 a year, while top male performers can make more than $100,000 annually.'"

Another example of the unfair treatment of men, a serious subject for academic study.

RecChief said...

translation:

"send grant money!"

That is all.

Ambrose said...

"Undertheorized". Do we in the English speaking world have a great language or what?

The Cracker Emcee said...

"Another example of the unfair treatment of men, a serious subject for academic study."

I'm guessing the men get a better benefit package.

The Cracker Emcee said...

I jest but the fact is, once adolescent curiosity is satisfied, most porn is boring and pretty grim.

Revenant said...

Is it really the case that (a) there are topics even less important than porn and (b) someone is actually studying them?

Yes, they're called "theologians". :)

harrogate said...

Revenant,

I am sure you will get agreement with that "joke" from a lot of people here. Why study theology in university studying? The big boys down at the pool hall are every bit as knowledgable of theological matters as the "perfessers" anyway. And "common sense" will mean what those boys tell you it means , too.

SGT Ted said...

The Academic journal for Porn Studies is needed to provide the vehicle for publishing propaganda posing as "scholarship" in order to achieve tenure and sinecures for ideological comrades in the Grievance Studies Industry/Affirmative Action PHDs operating within the Universities.

William said...

Porn, pot, and gay marriage will not cause western civ to collapse, but we'll keep trying. Maybe a carbon tax will do the trick.