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Sexuality and Transgression: Subversive Power of Pornographic Films

From the very beginnings of the film industry, sexuality and film have been inseparable. Although at first sight pornography development seems to be related to the mid 70s of the 20th century, when the first commercialized production and distribution of pornographic films appeared, more or less free sexual act scenes can be found in the early stages of cinematography, although most frequently in the form of lascivious scenes that only metaphorically suggest a sexual act.

What became one of the most lucrative industries of the second half of the 20th century had always been present in the form of film recordings. This text deals with the relationship between visual presentation of sexuality and transgression on the example of the film as a modern phenomenon. The basic intention was to find out which way pornographic films create a perception of sexuality different from the one that has been present in the forms of literature, drawings and photography, and how was the discourse on sexuality that we know of from the end of the 18th century changed with the appearance of film. In the first part the emphasis is given to different discourses on sexuality that were produced by the enlightenment ideology and techniques applied in the discourse subject production. In the second part the importance of the film and the picture as mediators in the processes of sexuality’s visual construction was examined. In the third part, using classical and contemporary understandings of the term sexuality, the text deals with pornographic films in more detail, and explore the reasons why they have a stronger transgression potential than classical art forms such as novel or photography. There is a lot of literature on pornography as a media and on discourses about sexuality, but little has been said on the transgression potential of this genre.
The key words are transgression, male view dominance, scopophilia, and liminal experience offered by the ontological status of photographic and film images.

The text comes up with several conclusions:

1) although the pornography’s charm is often based on twisting the order and power, nonetheless, it always keeps the order because every sexual theatre is staged and organized by following strict and previously defined rules;
2) the second pornography feature is the transgression of time, since it leaves out narration, which creates an illusion of absolute power of sex based on unlimited pleasure repeating;
3) pornography is often related to the liminal death experience: death and sex equally posses the power of transgression because they insert potentially dangerous dynamism and transgression to the existing order.

The attracting power of pornography stems precisely from this transgression potential which has not been tamed by modern art despite all inventive strategies.

Tonči Valentić

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