Government Issue Porn
It’s no surprise that the Attorney General is turning up the heat on pornography. (Christine started us talking about DOJ recordkeeping rules last week, and the Google issue bubbled up a few weeks before.) Porn is an anathema to the GOP’s base, and with few supporters (other than those card carriers over at the ACLU and the 34 million (soon to be 40 million) anonymous consumers hunkered down behind their monitors), such attacks are an easy way to satisfy social conservatives. Perhaps Alberto Gonzalez will take the same approach as Reagan’s AG, Edwin Meese: preparation of a Porn Report. The Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography Final Report (available, at least in part, here) was more than a condemnation of pornography; it was a complete reference volume on the field. History, law, a feminist critique of objectification – everything was there in one intimidating tome. To prove that world was filled with truly porny porn, the Commission produced serious evidence: loads of material extracted from genuine dirty books and magazines. This was one racy government document; I can only imagine the lines at those designated library repositories. Sales must also have been solid. Just as happened with The Starr Report, a commercial publisher stepped in and republished the fat government document. (The flashy book cover, to the right, is the reprint.)
The moment is ripe for a new update – Porn 2K, perhaps – but times and technology have changed a great deal in the interim. Nowadays, a report need not take the form of a paper book that gathers dust in the Government Document Collection. Like many government publications, it can be distributed on the web – complete with hypertext links to sources. Imagine the manifold ways that a Gonzalez Report might show the nature and extent of pornography in America. If the Meese Report soldiered through, making its case through the use of dry text, a new hi-tech report could provide readers with link after link to graphic, vulgar, offensive, genuinely nasty smut. And the nature of this smut has changed! Pornography, like everything else, has gone the way of the celebrity. So what atrocities might be exposed in this report?
Why not link readers to a Paris Hilton amateur sex video, a honeymoon sex tape from Survivor Jenna Lewis, or that aging chestnut, When Pamela Anderson Meets Tommy Lee? Then there are celebs-in-the-buff. The Report will need to connect interested citizens to the many celebrity websites, featuring Jennifer Aniston Nude! Angelina Jolie Nude! Scarlett Johansson Nude! … well, you get the idea. Not all famous women have been caught in that primal state, but that doesn’t slake consumer interest. The report may then have to direct concerned readers to shady sites featuring fake nudes, where a famous woman’s head has been attached to a random (but robust) figure. These websites might be the biggest problem of all. Can their owners produce an ID proving that the torso floating below the starlet’s fetching face is really 18? Millions of Americans will want to know.
Perhaps the Commission could hire Stephen Bates, a primary author of the Starr Report who previously wrote for Playboy. After all, we’d certainly expect that the millions of people downloading such a timely study would be reading it for the articles!