I am primarily concerned with categorizing the various types of (legal) pornographic movies produced in or for the viewing of citizens of the United States. This is a personal system of mine, but I believe it has value. Postmodernism teaches us that we should endeavor to evaluate items on their own merits with as little categorization as possible. Human thought and logic could not function without some degree or organization or pigeon-holing, however, and as such I make a compromise, choosing to acknowledge that there definitely exist movies that do not fit into the system outlined herein.

Another issue that confronts me is that of classifying "pornography." This is notoriously hard, and I will thus cop out and simply paraphrase the famous Supreme Court ruling and say "I know porn when I see it."

Now then, the degrees of porn, as I see them:

  • Non-Sexy Fetish Porn
    Examples: Crush Videos, Smoking Videos
    What you see: Clothed People Doing Strange Things to Get Your Brain Off; It's Not Sex, but It May Still Be Gross
    The best example of this type of movie is the "smoking" video. A man is dominated by a woman who simply blows smoke in his face; that's it. This could also be S and M that has no nakedness. The fetish definately gets people off, but it doesn't really involve nudity or even sex, just persons performing in highly scripted roles for the satisfaction of the viewer's highly specialized tastes.

  • T and A Movies
    Examples: Ski School (1991), The Bikini Carwash Company (1992)
    What you see: Female Breasts, Groping, Underwear Shots, Simulated Sex
    The 1980s are famous for these movies, which went to the movie theaters for brief runs; now most of their ilk go direct-to-video. Movies have the basics of a plot but usually feature actors who are trying to get started in Hollywood (and may later; Tom Hanks has several of these embarrassments on his resume.) The plot usually revolves around people trying to get sex or takes place in a sexually charged place--e.g. a strip club. Ninety percent of these movies are either erotically-charged drama like Night Eyes or sex comedies. You see lots of female breasts, and the movie is either rated R by the MPAA or is left unrated and marked NR . Sex is simulated and done so we only see thrusting or fooling around out of camera-shot. You may catch a very very brief frame of female pubic hair, but nothing more. At one point, the USA Network showed edited versions of these movies under the heading USA Up All Night, and I have to tell you: T and A movies with the T and A edited out are unbelievably boring.

  • Wow, Naked Chicks!
    Examples: 1960s "Nudist" Movies, The Original Girls Gone Wild
    What you see: Lots of Naked Women
    Men can feel comfortable watching these movies with their other definately-also-heterosexual buddies. Naked women parade around, but there's no sex. There's also no plot. It's just footage of naked women. There's no limit to the amount of nakedness like in an R-Rated movie, though. It just goes on and on and on.

  • Not Pay-Per-View Cable Channel Softcore
    Examples: The Red Shoe Diaries, Emmanuel
    What You See: Breasts, Simulated Sex by Naked People
    The fare shown late at night on HBO or Cinemax, these movies resemble T and A movies but take the sex one step further. Sex is actually discussed in a frank manner, though not too graphically. You will most likely see more female pubic hair and breasts than in a normal T and A movie. Sex is still simulated, and you still see no penetration, though it becomes increasingly hard to simulate the sex without the actors and actresses actually being naked and touching. Surprisingly, the plots are often more involved than your typical T and A flick. Most of these movies slide easily into the definition "erotica." There will be no gay male sex unless actually showing gay sex is a big part of the show's marketing; lesbians, however, abound.

  • Certain Hotel Pay-Per-View Cable Channel Softcore
    Examples: Certain Channels You Can Order In Your Hotel Room
    What you see: Not a lot of breasts, but lots of pubic hair. They may actually be having sex... but... wait... dammit, they're not.
    I have only been exposed to a few of these movies. They are strange, however, and don't seem to fit into any niche other than one prepared for them. There is a great deal of build-up before the first bit of nudity (presumably to keep you watching and paying,) and an attempt at a plot made by hilariously bad community theater-quality actors. You will see a lot of female pubis but, strangely, not a lot of breasts. This is the first degree of porn where you may see a naked male--but only a brief glance of a flaccid member. Penetration is simulated, but you could almost believe they were really having sex. There is lots of frank, dirty discussion about sex.

  • Spice Channel Style Pay-Per-View Medium-Core
    Examples: The Spice Channel (duh)
    What you see: Graphic simulated sex, All the Nudity You Could Hope For
    These movies appear to be carefully edited hardcore pornographic movies or specially-made films with hilarious attempts at getting very close to sex without actually having it. (My favorite example of this featured a man coaxing a woman, "Yeah, c'mon bitch-- suck my dick through my shorts.") Oral sex will feature the top half of a woman's head bobbing up and down, and you'll swear that guy is doing that woman, though all you can see is that he's standing behind her thrusting. Lots of breasts and pubes in this one. You will see more naked people than non-naked people and cease to get the impression you did with the previous categories of porn--that is, that the director was carefully monitoring how many minutes of nudity the film contained.

  • Dirty Fetish Porn
    Examples: "Bukkake" Videos
    What You See: You could see anything for any length of time, but only see a certain something.
    No real limits on what you can show, nudity or action-wise, but the featured fetish is unquestionably sexual in nature and involves some private part of somebody's anatomy. This being said, there's no real sex in here that doesn't fit within a small range of carefully scripted behavior, just a glaring, no-holds-barred look at a fetish without any of that vanilla person-on-person action getting in the way. What differentiates this from the first category is the nudity and sex.

  • Hardcore Pornography
    Examples: Debbie Does Dallas, Anal Reamers Vol. 11
    You'll see it all: "real" sex between all genders of people, in harsh lighting all the way from arousal to (simulated) orgasm to ejaculation. I really don't think I need to get too detailed about this. If you've read this far you know what I'm talking about, you pervert.

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