By Brandon Benarba and Jon Winkler
There is no concrete definition of art. The concept of what art is, is so vague and ever changing that everyone has his or her own beliefs of what is and is not art. For some, entertainment pieces such as television and movies are not considered art, but for others, they are the definition of art.
Probably the most debated art argument is over whether or not pornography can be considered art. To help simplify the debate, we will both be going by the standard dictionary definition of art, which is “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing or of more than ordinary significance.”
Brandon Benarba: Porn is art.
Jon Winkler: Porn is not art.
BB: Pornography, and to a lesser degree sex, have become an unspoken taboo within society. It is something that we all know exists and we are aware of the benefits that can come from pornography, but why do so many people shy away from it? Art is a method through which humans express themselves, and pornography and sex are some of the most basic ways of expressing a multitude of emotions. When it comes down to porn, we have different categories and genres to satiate a variety of people’s sexual desires. Naturally, the quality of the product is going to vary, but we cannot compare Picasso to a third grader’s drawings, can we?
JW: What exactly is art used for? It is meant as an expression of one’s feelings, views, or ideas into physical forms of display for others to see. If that is the case, what in the world is porn meant to express? Is it meant to show off the sexual fantasies that we as human beings have on a daily basis, or just something teenage boys snicker about and older men use to deal with the single life? Most porn is not art at all because it is not meant to express any message or opinion. Instead, it is poorly shot melodrama with awful writing, bad actors who can’t read beyond a fifth grade level and unrealistic situations. Porn is more like the most private form of fantasy, more shameless escape than creative expression.
BB: You bring up the words “private” and “fantasy” during your argument, which really makes me happy. The thing about art is that the expression the artist is trying to achieve is usually private to them. We can never really understand what they are trying to tell, but rather take our own interpretation from it. I agree with you in terms of quality, but to say that it ends up being a form of fantasy is audacious. All forms of art become some form of fantasy. Most accepted forms of art and entertainment usually become a form of power fantasy for the viewer. So why is it considered so tasteless for people to indulge in sexual fantasies? If everyone can get their own interpretation out of a piece of art, is what they are viewing a problem? Art being fantasy is a great thing, as it can distract us from our real world problems and allow us to lose ourselves in something. Let’s be honest here, a lot of people can lose themselves in porn, and I do not think that is a bad thing.
JW: People losing themselves in porn is their business (and something not really appropriate for print, so we will skip that), but porn also seems to have no effort put into it. Where does the inspiration come from, because it seems almost too simple to be considered art? If pornography can be considered art, then it has to be cared for like an art form. There has to be more effort put into porn in order for it to be taken seriously. It is hard to take a piece of cinema seriously when the opening scene is a guy named Brock Harder walking into a room with his shirt off and saying weak pick-up lines to a girl named Quendra. Porn needs to have a concept beyond “the money shot” if it wants to be worthwhile, otherwise it is just another shameful reason that people stay single. If porn wants to be taken as seriously as most art forms, it needs to have something to say and not just something to watch.
Naturally, we cannot declare something as art or not, because the very nature of art is self-perception. Still, whether or not you believe that pornography is art or not does not matter. It is something that exists, and it should be something that people can openly talk about. Too often pornography is linked to the idea of self-pleasure, but maybe it is time for people to look at it in a different light.