I am gross and I love putting my fingers in things they don’t belong and I dooooon’t careeeeeee
Awhile back one of my followers advised me that Duke University was attempting to start a Porn Studies PhD program.
I flipped my shit a lil. I mean what I’m attempting with this blog is a less formally academnified version of exactly that premise. And as much as I feel alienated from academia these days–there is a part of me that knows that if nothing else I function exceedingly well in that framework.
I looked into it and turns out the information was only about 10% true. A professor of Film Studies and Rhetoric at UC-Berkley named Linda Williams published a book called Porn Studies through Duke University’s press in 2004.
But Williams’ notions are absolutely fascinating. Via Wikipedia:
[S]he argues that horror, melodrama, and pornography all fall into the
category of “body genres”, since they are each designed to elicit
physical reactions on the part of viewers. Horror is designed to elicit
spine-chilling, white-knuckled, eye-bulging terror (often through images
of blood); melodramas are designed to elicit sympathy (often through
images of tears); and pornography is designed to elicit sexual arousal
(often through images of “money shots”).
Two things about this relate directly to what Vex and Four Chambers do and do with beauty:
So-called “body genres” tend to be relegated to a default subset I’d term not-art. (Alien would be an exception but note that it’s first a sci-film and only secondly a horror piece; and so the skillful genre fusion allows critics to sidestep the horror isn’t art prejudice.)
The work being made by Four Chambers isn’t just of an exceedingly high production value, I would argue that it’s capital-A Art.
And as much as I’d like that argument to take a form similar to the Buddhist monk who when tasked with passing wisdom to those gathered to hear him speak, merely held up a lotus leaf for all to contemplate–in other words, I’d just point to this image and say: duh, of course this is Art; there is something else that applies.
The fantasy that the majority of porn sells is centered on cishet white male pleasure. It’s formulaic and sterile–the only mess pertains to the money shot.
But, in reality, sex–at least when you’re doing it right–is hell of messy. I swear there’s a dissertation for a Porn Studies PhD just waiting to be composed about how Four Champers represents sexuality as messy and rich with fluids. (Literally pick one of their videos at random and you’ll see what I mean. The one I happen to have handy is this image that I was going to save for a future post.)
You can call it gross or more honest or both even but whichever way you cut it, there is a subversive push to decentralize the fluid mess of sex from cishet white male pleasure. Not only is that hot as fuck, its importance and absolutely vital.