A history of Porn

The article on not watching porn has generated a lot of interest so naturally I thought I would revisit it.

I have used pornography on and off through most of my adult life. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. What started as occasional purchases of top-shelf magazines such as Club International and Mayfair moved to hardcore pornography when I had broadband internet in the year 2003.

It was a brave new world in terms of sexual imagery and expression. The porn clips I downloaded and saved on to my computer were far stronger than anything legally available in magazines at the time. All of a sudden I was able to watch acts I could scarcely imagine before the internet.

Its been commented that before the web, porn was not so readily available. There were always dirty magazines for sale at the newsagents, but you had to have nerves of steel to go in there and buy them face to face. Sex shops sold pornographic videos, but the quality was extremely poor and so mostly I looked at magazines.

When I saw the content available on line, much of it for free, I jumped at the chance to watch it. Online porn had one massive advantage over the printed variety in that it was much easier to hide it from parents and sisters. I’ve lost count of the number of times I would go looking for a particular favourite magazine, only to find the magazine suspiciously missing after one of my mother’s tidying up sessions.

Much of the porn I viewed came in 20 minute clips. It was mainly downloaded illegally through file-sharing sites such as kazaa or limewire. I would leave the computer running overnight and return to to find all manner of porn had appeared on my computer. It was possible to download all kinds of porn, more than I really needed. Once it was downloaded, it was saved on my hardrive. Although I downloaded the clips more than 10 years ago, I’ve recently tracked down several on the internet. This is proof that you’ll never be able to hide from a porn video. I can imagine there will be old grannies in nursing homes fifty years from now who will make a point of bringing up their dirty pasts.


By the year 2006, my porn use was raising fears that I was addicted. At the time, I would spend a good a hour most days looking for the hard content, before having a big wanking session for an hour. But I still wasn’t satisfied and I would have to look for more extreme content. Which led to more wanking of course.

I’m not exactly proud of this. I didn’t want to watch so much porn. I convinced myself it was ok. I didn’t have a girlfriend so the porn seemed like the easiest way of releasing my sexual tension.

Recently I’ve come to realise that all that porn wasn’t such a great idea. Porn taught me that sex should be a certain way, one that is purely focused on male sexual pleasure. The sex I have had with women has never been like the sex I have viewed in porn.

Porn isn’t something I actively seek out anymore. I actually find it totally boring. If I want to masturbate, I will think about women I’ve been with. Or I will fantasize about the women I know. I have really surprised myself over this. After using porn for so long, I had conditioned myself to become aroused only by watching graphic clips of people having sex. The orgasms I achieve through fantasy are much more satisfying, partly becuase they are as a result of my own thoughts.

I’m not anti-porn. There may be a valid place for porn within a relationship. Perhaps that is the best place to watch it, where it can be shared so that each partner can derive pleasure from it. But for now, my life is porn free and it’s never been better.

A Girl at My Door


Director: July Jung

Doona Bae, Sae-ron Kim, Sae-byeok Song

There is a reason why all films have long credit seequences. The list of personnel involved in making a film is invariably long and most end titles for even a modest film like this are at least 3 minutes of the film’s duration. It could also be a useful device to allow the audience to reflect on what they have seen. It may be that the only way to process something very emotional such as this film is to spend three minutes staring at a black screen before returning to the world outside.

Korean filmmakers have already proved themselves some of the best in the world such as Park Chan Wook and Kim KI-Duk. Now from first time director July Jung comes this small, perfectly judged mini-masterpiece.

Police officer Yeong-nam has been relocated from the big city to a tiny rural backwater where the locals ride tractors along a highway and spend what little free time they have in the village’s beauty salon or in the karaoke bars. It’s a small scale environment that Yeong-nam does not adjust to well. Soon she is pouring alcohol into water bottles – the only way that she can find peace and sleep at night.

Into her closed off existence comes a young girl who seems to be the town’s whipping girl. Arriving at Nam’s door, the gir reveals a history pf physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather. A bond forms between them and before long they become increasingly close: shopping for clothes together, sharing meals and even sharing baths.

For a scene which shows the  opening up of the police officer, look no further than that at the half-hour mark. In this scene, we learn all we need to know about the characters’ feelings towards each other. Nam has finished cooking dinner, and we know  from her expression that the girl has not received such an act of kindness for a very long time. The TV has been on in the background and the young girl performs a K-pop style dance, revealing her childish innocence and sweetness. The camera cuts back to Nam’s reaction: a perfect expression of amusement and acceptance. Its a look that suggests she is not going to judge the girl in any way but give her the freedom to express herself in any way she can.

The performance from Bae Doona could scarcely be better. There’s not a hint of overracting in her acting, just emotional realism. Think Marion Cottillard in Six days and Seven Nights and you get an idea of the kind of pure cinema I am talking about. The young girl from Ajusshi (Jae-Ron Kim), is now a teenager, all grown up. It’s a difficult part to play when you’re only 14 yourself but somehow she comes across believably.

I was genuinely moved by the ending. Admirers of pure cinema, natural performances will surely find much to love about the film. From now on I am watching anything Doona Bae does with serious interest. And if you’re new to the world of Han cinema, what are you waiting for?

K-film review: Phone

Phone (2002), starring Ha Ji-won and Eun Seo-woo, directed by Ahn Byeong-ki


Coming after the internationally successful Asian horrors Ring and The Grudge, Phone is another film that finds supernatural horror in objects that are all around us.

Ceverly, the film makes use of the ringtone as a motif for the film’s scary moments. The familiar sound that we’re all used to is made to seem full of foreboding and dread. I was intrigued when I heard about the film. I wasn’t sure how the film would manage to make a satisfying horror and my initial feelings were that it would be too gimmicky. After all, in real life, if you are faced with a heavy-breathing stalker making nuisance phonecalls, you’d change your number wouldn’t you? That would make for a frustratingly short film of course. In a sense the phone aspect is actually a bit of let down and the film uses it as a MacGuffin element that allows a connection to be made between the past and the present.

Here’s a breakdown of the plot:

A female journalist has published a series of articles revealing the names of several high-profile men who have been found to have carried out sexual offences on underage girls. She receives several disturbing calls before deciding to change her number. A second plot strand involves her close friend who, after having been found infertile, had asked her friend to be a womb donor.

The child born through artificial insemination is now five years old, and as in all classic horror films from the Exorcist to the Shining, we know that child actors mean we should prepare for some truly freaky shit to unfold. So it proves. After answering the phone, the girl’s face scrunches up and her eyes swivel to the side in a classic demonic pose. It should be pointed out that even before this moment, the child was already looking particularly unattractive.

Finally, there is another plot strand, which involves a school girl the woman’s wife was having an affair with. It was this emothionally charged elememt of the film that I found the most compelling. The girl was a piano student and one of the pieces she learns to play is the Moonlight Sonata. I’m a sucker for any piece of classical music in films and the film uses this haunting piece brilliantly.

Phone was made in 2002, so several years before we all started using smartphones. The flip-lid phones the characters use made me feel nostalgic. Another highlight was the cinematography which bathes every scene in an unervingly bright light.

Finally, there was a subtletly to the two female performances that made it light years ahead of most American talk-and-slash horrors. Fans of Asian horrors will find this film right up their street. For others, it’s slightly confusing and is slow to start, but delivers a satisfying conclusion.

Online dating: it’s not for me

Recently I’ve been thinking about internet dating and how common it has become.

Sites such as Ok Cupid and Plenty of Fish are popular becuase they are free to use (although both offer premium rates for added services). As well as these online websites (which offer a traditional approach to dating where if you like someone’s profile page you will send them a message and arrange to meet in person) there is Tinder, which offers a much more direct approach where you simply choose someone on the basis of looks (I wonder what could go wrong with that approach)?

After trying these three sites I can give you my informed conclusion that the world of online dating is not a world I want to be part of.

Firstly, online dating is a numbers game. Being man puts you at an instant disadvantage becuase of the sheer number of weirdos out there. I talked to women about their experiences of onine dating and they told me that most of the messages they were sent  were deleted because they were either overtly sexual or just very inappropriate. It seems that any girl on on a dating website is going to be bombarded with messages. When I signed up with Ok Cupid I found myself reading dozens of profiles of different women, I felt as though I suddenly had access to all kinds of great women and they were all single like me.

However the downside to all this is that you could spend all your time looking for the perfect woman whilst ignoring those who don’t fit your profile of what an ideal woman should be.

I went on a total of eight dates (by date I’m talking about a pre-arranged meeting at a mutually agreed time and place). I found them on the whole to be frustrating, dull and a little bit sad. The women all made at least some effort to be appear interesting, but the conversation was often strained.  If I’m being honest, it didn’t help that I chose very typical standard dating venues, ie, pub/restaurant/bar. On these occasions I felt as though I was on a job interview where I was allowed to drink alcolhol. On most dates, you need to be prepared to talk about yourself a lot. If you’re not comfortable with that you’re going to be sitting squirming in your seat, helplessly holding on to the plastic spoon in your drink. The women I went out with seemed to have a list of questions in their head that they wanted to ask me and it felt as though I was taking part in a boyfriend suitability test.

Tinder was the most annoying of the sites.  Being able to use your phone’s GPS signal means that you should be able to track down the closest women to you by area. It should be perfect. But instead of cutting through the bullshit that I got caught up in on the other websites (sending messages, waiting days for a reply) I found Tinder to be just as bad. Because you can’t send someone a message until they have ‘liked’ you (the mutual interest rule), it wasn’t possible for me to contact any of the women in my local area whom I would have had the best chances with.

A recent book by the actor and comedian Aziz Ansari explores the world of online dating. In it, Aziz comes to the conclusion that if you only go on boring standard date venues like bars and retaurants you will have boring standard dates. It would be better to take someone somewhere completely unexpected. (in the book, a couple bonded by visiting car rallies, partly becuase they were both fascinated by the strange characters who attended them). I never got the opportunity to go on any random dates, sadly. But I would have liked a diversion, perhaps to an amusement park, an open air concert or even a museum.

American comedian Aziz Ansari has written the first great book about the effects of online dating on relationships amongst heterosexual people
American comedian Aziz Ansari has written the first great book about the effects of online dating on relationships amongst heterosexual people

Another encounter Ansari describes is of meeting a young man in a small American town.

He told Ansari that he was confident that he woud meet a nice woman eventually. He said that no matter how much a person bugs you, once you get to them you realise that they’re not so bad. A person may not clip their toenails regularly or change their socks but these things you can get used to. Maybe we’re all judging people too quickly. I wonder if anyone is truly at the best on a first date anyway? Perhaps my dating forays would have been more successful if I’d gone for a second or third date, rather than looking for a new woman straight away after a disappointing date.

But I do know that it’s much nicer meeting people offline. And seriously, if a person is happy with someone not changing their socks or clipping their toenails they need to think about raising their standards.