Friday, May 12, 2017

Random Article - A Treatise on ‘Torture Porn’


Welcome back to another entry here, and this time we’re going for something rather different with this post. Rather than take a specific look at a franchise or subset of the genre, we’re going to deal with an issue that I’ve wanted to talk about that really bugs me: the “Torture Porn” movement.

Frankly, I’ve long had an issue with these types of films, but it’s not in the manner some may think. I really don’t mind the extreme, excessive gore, the overlong setups or the constant social-political messages within the films, and while I actually have problems with plenty of them by themselves there’s another reason why I’m not a huge fan of the genre and the whole point of this post. Frankly, I’ve never agreed with the genre tag: ‘Torture Porn.’

It’s really odd that I have a problem with the specific tag for a small subset of films, but it’s always been an issue that bothered me and it took me a while to figure out why. It’s not like there’s a rather misleading bit of information to be found in the name, there’s certainly plenty of that to be found in these films and there’s plenty of stellar work in detailing the general gruesomeness that comes with the territory in the genre so there are some fun elements with the genre.

However, I’ve never cared for the title at all. It’s the connotation that the films feature a connection with the torture as porn scenes instead, which is frankly not the case in the slightest. It’s not a big deal to admit that I've thought of this for a while, and in terms of what is produced within the porn industry featuring short scenes rather than full-on movies, there are two general subsets you can find which comprise around 90% of the industry: the interview and the fantasy.

As for ‘The Interview,’ this is probably the more common and readily-found types of scenes. In this scenario, it’s usually a short sequence that lasts on average of four-to-five minutes showing the titular starlet posing around the location of the shoot, whether it be outside by a swimming pool or inside the house around the living room or kitchen before it turns to the cameraman asking her questions and basically doing an interview with the performer in question. Naturally, that can even include the male performer of the scene talking with her as well as the option to have the two of them perform a rather risque activity together, and at the end of it all it turns into the  main sexual act that lasts anywhere from 15-20 minutes to a half-hour, depending on various elements within the scene.

For ‘The Fantasy,’ this one tends to play out more like an actual movie scene. It usually consists of more varied locations and tends to bring out a sexual fantasy to play with. Whether it be taking the neglected wife of your best friend, the mother of their girlfriend or the sisters’ best friend among many other supposed fantasies at play here, the main point here is that this one plays out more like a movie scene that happens to include a fantasy sexual element driving them together into each other where there’s no winking at the camera at before delving into the  main sexual act that lasts anywhere from 15-20 minutes to a half-hour, depending on various elements within the scene.

Now, granted each of these names are my own personal take on the scenes as a whole and are my own nicknames that I don’t expect anyone else to follow or adapt as their own names, but it’s easier to understand these types of scenes better with the nicknames. Given that it’s possible to claim at least 90% of hardcore porn would fall under these two categories, it’s hard to tell where the connection to these films and the ‘Torture Porn’ films come from. If we’re comparing the amount of time they showcase their own particular selling points, then it comes off incredibly uneven with the general setup in hardcore porn being 5-10 minutes of foreplay before the single-take 20-30 minute ‘main attraction.’ When it comes to the ‘Torture Porn’ films, there’s a wildly unbalanced tone here with the films ranging from 30-40 minute foreplay scenes and then only sporadically tackling their ‘main attraction’ which comes and goes throughout the remainder of the movie.

Now, when it comes to softcore there’s a bit more clarity when it comes to the naming. Rather than going for different scene-setups like with the hardcore stuff, here it’s mainly just a plain movie that tends to build frequent excuses for the ‘main attraction’ to come along through the course of the familiar plot, and these scenes are indeed multiple offenders that tend to go about four-to-seven minutes at a time at regular intervals. Now, in theory, that sounds closer in spirit and tone to the ‘Torture Porn’ series of films, but yet there’s a major difference to be had that to me makes them slightly different. In softcore, the focus isn’t on selling you on the ‘main attraction,’ rather it’s about the setup and the spoofs that it’s railing against. There’s almost an air of trying to be a legitimate movie that just so happens to go into these sequences at sporadic intervals which oftentimes stop the film cold to get them in and then try a wild reach-around to get back to its main story. They’re not the main focus or else not only would these scenes be written into the film a lot more coherently but they would also be integral to the film itself: it wouldn’t play out much differently had those scenes been taken out.

That is the main crux of my contention with the naming. ‘Torture Porn’ sells itself on the titular torture, it’s the reason for being there. The way the human body is cut up and bleeds profusely from the massive wounds inflicted upon it while the usually lackluster manner handled around the rest of the film, it’s not hard to see that’s the main selling point and the outlandish scenarios created to try to top the one that came before it are what sell that fact more than anything. In traditional porn, regardless of the set-up found, it never tries to top what came before and instead relies on varying the formula between its two principle factors: stars and location. Nothing else really changes from one to the other than who’s performing the scene and where they’re going at it, which means that the act itself is thus the ‘main attraction.’ On the whole, these issues here have really kept me from really embracing that label.

So what do we do in the meantime? I know the issue won’t mean much to many of you out there, but still, on the whole, it’s something that is a rather curious affair, keeping the misleading genre tag for something not many may care about. So, what can we do in its place? Personally, I’ve always used the title ‘Torture Slasher’ when describing these films even though it also has some misleading properties and can cause confusion. The films as a whole aren’t really based on a typical slasher premise, but the fact that each individual torture sequence here can line up and replace a traditional stalking scene found in a slasher film does hold far more weight and connection than the other label. It’s good enough for me now, but might be one worth more thought in the future as a resurgence might mean more thought and care for a better tag.

Whatever the case may be, that’s all for now. See you next time.