Friday, November 19, 2010

Softcore Pornography

What is softcore pornography? How does it differ from "erotica", and where do we draw the line between it and hardcore? Wikipedia defines one possible type of softcore pornography as depicting "nude and semi-nude performers engaging in casual social nudity". But this is very problematic, from a nudist standpoint. On one hand, people can interpret innocent, non-sexual nudity in a sexual light (and I wouldn't strip them of their right to that interpretation), but I think it's extremely inappropriate to define nudist images or videos as any kind of pornography!

Wikipedia also offers this definition for softcore pornography: "non-graphic representations of sexual intercourse or masturbation". Now we're in the right ballpark, since we're actually talking about sex. Here, we differentiate from eroticized nudity, and enter the realm of actual sexuality. But what constitutes a "graphic" representation of sex? Is it how much you can see? Or is it the way the action is framed? To allow full genital nudity but not erections (what is this, a nudist resort?), renders an artistic portrait of a nude man, alone, with an erection - not even touching it - hardcore pornography. That doesn't sound right to me.

Hardcore? Hardly...

Where pornography is involved, there are few answers. I bring up this question because I'm genuinely curious about how to classify some of my work. And while I'll probably end up trusting my gut and calling it like I see it, I am concerned about how certain terms are interpreted on a wider scale. I think very little of what I've shot so far could be considered hardcore (whether hardcore art or hardcore porn) - can it be hardcore if there's only one person and no penetration? - yet a pretentious artist or a prude might be offended by some of my work being classified as anything but. Though I guess my language in that last sentence reveals my own stance.

Surely there's at least a difference between softcore photography (which might indicate softcore erotica) and softcore pornography. And where does non-nude erotica fit in? If we call that some kind of softcore, then there ought to be something in between that and hardcore. Semicore?

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