Porn-Free Video Analyzes ‘Gender Messages’ In Porn, Horror

A new video essay by media critic Jenna Stoeber posted Thursday by the video gaming and pop culture site Polygon argues that porn has more in common with two other film genres than most of us would generally assume. Those two other genres are horror and “melodrama,” or what would be generally called “soap operas.”

In fact, Stoeber says in the video, which may be viewed in its entirety at this link, the three genres of film that appear widely disparate on first glance are really part of one meta-genre, the “body genre.”

“The purpose of a body genre is to provoke a specific emotional response in the audience, be it fear, sadness or arousal,” Stoeber explains. “The physical expression of an emotion, such as screaming, crying or orgasming, provides an emotional release for the audience.”

A major shortcoming of Stoeber’s video, however, is that while she illustrates her points with numerous film clips, and she is apparently making some of those points about the porn genre, almost none of the clips are taken from porn films. Except for a brief excerpt from the title sequence in the 1978 classic Debbie Does Dallas, Stoeber affords zero examples of how porn films support her contention about the “gender issues” in body genre films: Namely, that, “horror, melodrama and porn are often genres where women are rendered senseless and powerless—entirely unable to reason, because of emotion.”

The “body genres,” including porn, supposedly convey the idea that women experience “emotion to excess” while men “experience no emotion,” which are two ideas that Stoeber calls “as ridiculous as they are dangerous.”

If Stoeber’s descripton of women in porn as “senseless and powerless,” and overwhelmed by emotion, sounds inaccurate or inadequate to adult fans everywhere, well, Stoeber gives no evidence in the video to support her assertion.

So what defines a “body genre,” anyway? According to Stoeber there are four criteria:

• “An emphasis on emotions” rather than on plot and character development.

• Emotional response. A body genre does not merely show characters experiencing emotions, “it’s equally important that the people watching them feel the same emotion.” This characteristic differentiates body genres from, for example, comedy, in which characters rarely laugh at their own jokes—but the audience is supposed to laugh.

• “Spectacles of excess.” Characters in body genre films are “overwhelmed with emotion to the point that they are incapable of rational thought. … They scream, they cry, they moan because they’re too emotional to use language.” But are characters in porn films incapable of using language? No examples or counter-examples are shown in the video.

• “Low culture.” Body genres are “by definition, low quality,” Stoeber says. “That’s because they depict emotional excess. We perceive that excess as a bad thing, despite evidence that emotional release has a positive impact on health.”

Stoeber transitions the discussion into whether video games can be considered “body genres,” but dives no further into how porn fits her theories. Perhaps actually showing a few porn clips, even SFW excerpts, might have helped her case, rather than simply causing her otherwise intriguing video to fall into another problematic genre: porn studies that fail to actually study porn.

Photo via Polygon Video Screen Capture

Written by: Michael French

Originally published on: https://avn.com/business/articles/video/porn-free-video-analyzes-gender-messages-in-porn-horror-genres-779131.html

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