Is The Tide Turning Against Porn?
A few weeks ago the
PTC posted an "applaud" for Apple CEO Steve
Jobs' position on pornography and it's availability within applications running
on iPhone devices.
"We do believe we
have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone," said Jobs in an email
to a customer, adding that those who want porn can buy a competing Android phone
from Google on which "you can download nothing but porn."
The bluntness of
Jobs' remarks caught me by surprise. I watched with some cynicism a few months
Apple cleared their app store of most of the
applications that allowed pornographic media to be displayed on iPhone and
iTouch devices. Admittedly I thought the action might be temporary as it
coincided closely with the release of the iPad, which is being hailed as the
next device to revolutionize education. No one wants the future electronic
replacement for school textbooks to be associated with porn.
But a few days ago
a second revealing remark from Mr. Jobs was sent to yet another writer -- tech
blogger Ryan Tate. Tate was miffed at an ad he saw late one evening for Apple's
new iPad that heralded the device as "revolutionary." Shooting off an email to
Job's rather well-known public email address (firstname.lastname@example.org),
the blogger asked the CEO how the iPad was related to a revolution. "Revolutions
are about freedom," stated Tate.
shortly after midnight, Tate received an answer from the Apple CEO. The response
included a couple of quips supporting Apple's perceived technical advantage over
its competitors. But then Jobs also added that Apple's devices provide "Freedom
from porn." When Tate shot back that he "didn't want 'freedom from porn'", Jobs
advised him that, "[you] might care more about porn when you have kids."
For those of us who
have had it with the "porn everywhere, anytime" saturated society in which we
live, hearing the CEO of a major communications and technology company make a
statement like this is nothing short of groundbreaking. Remember, Jobs also sits
on Disney's board (which includes ABC Television).
After reading these
remarks, I wondered what the reaction might be. May 21, 2010, Eric Felten of the
Wall Street Journal
wrote an editorial covering the issue.
Thankfully Felten was supportive of Jobs, saying:
"My, how the definition of
imposing one's morality has changed over the years. Once it meant enforcing
criminal sanctions on smut-peddlers. Now, a businessman who prefers to opt out
of the trade is accused of impinging on everyone else's free speech."
Felten isn't quite
convinced that morality is Jobs' main motivation for "unfriending the world of
porn." Instead he wonders if the "arbiters of modern cool have finally cooled to
the sweaty cultural ascendance of 'adult entertainment.' Could it be that the
tide has begun to turn against pornography ... just as a matter of taste and
Looking at the porn
situation from another perspective,
British newspaper The Guardian says the adult
entertainment industry is simply reached its pinnacle. Says journalist Douglas
Haddow, "In order for porn to move into the 21st Century, the productions should
be made to appeal to a wider audience and be able to hold a viewer's attention
longer than say, two and a half minutes." He continues to say the female market
has been ignored and that the porn industry is the only medium where racial and
gender stereotypes are openly tolerated.
Even more telling,
the porn industry appears to be hurting for cash and has turned to YouTube with
a public service announcement that pleads for people to quit downloading porn
for free. "Eventually, if no one is willing to pay for the movies we make, they
won't exist," implores one of the many female porn stars in the clip.
I'm not about to
believe porn will go the way of top hats and zoot suits anytime soon, but this
may be the beginning of a cultural revolution. Frankly, I couldn't care what
reasons may be contributing to the possibility of porn fading from the
everywhere prominence it now enjoys. For those of us who believe the pornography
industry is damaging marriages and families and destroying the lives of many
individuals who consume and participate in it, any decline is welcome.
Perhaps the most
important thing we can learn from this is how one very influential person can
begin a paradigm shift. By making these recent statements, Steve Jobs has led an
editorial columnist at a major publication to think about issues of free speech
differently. Just imagine if others were to do likewise.
Besides writing this column for the Parents Television Council, Rod Gustafson authors Parent Previews® - a newspaper and Internet column (published in association with movies.com) that reviews movies from a parent's perspective. He's also the film critic for a major Canadian TV station, various radio stations and serves on the executive of the Alberta Association for Media Awareness. Finally, his most important role is being the father to four wonderful children and husband to his beautiful wife (and co-worker) Donna.
and the Media by Rod Gustafson
Television Council -
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