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The Importance Of Art And Pornography

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Exclusivists view art and pornography as an ideological polarity which can be ‘convincingly’ distinguished in many ways.
The classic exclusivist claim lies in the fundamental immorality of pornography, which, as “an instrument of exploitation and imprisonment,” is antithetical to art. Representing sexual acts in a manner degrading to women, pornography is criticised for perpetuating the myth that rape is appropriate behaviour. It is this, which has prompted anti-porn feminists to warn of the causal link between pornography and violence. With representations of women enjoying such primitive acts, the regressive influence of pornography “erodes ones moral character.”
Support for the ethical distinction between the two is provided by Gracyk who renders the defining feature of pornography to be the attitude that a representation itself expresses towards its subject-matter. What distinguishes pornography from art is the ‘pornographic attitude’, an expression of disdain towards women, which is inherent in the representation and is thereby imposed upon the viewer.
This is in contrast to art, which, with its psychological and emotional depth, “exerts a great pull on the imagination” inviting the audience to contemplate the story beneath. The explicit nature of the art serves a secondary role to its aesthetic beauty, as exemplified by Titan’s ‘Venus of Urbino’ whereby, according to Scrutton, the primary focus lies, not on the naked body but the face as a “window to the soul.” Dissimilar to the depravity which characterises pornography, the two can be ‘convincingly’ distinguished between.
To distinguish between art and pornography on the basis of their ethical distinction is, I believe, futile and assumptive. Not only ...

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...iewer’s evaluation of the representation. “The dominant interpretive strategy,” the ability of a work to be classified as both art and pornography depending on its context, undermines the claim that the two are mutually exclusive. Combined with the many representations which possess both artistic and pornographic elements, the refusal to recognize the fusion of the two as a work of pornographic art, is to forego an accurate appreciation of the creation and to ultimately frustrate the essence of art itself. Art knows no bounds and so the “definition should follow the work: the work should not adapt itself to the definition.”
It is time to acknowledge that certain works of art can qualify as pornography and vice versa, rather than confine the two to incompatible spheres. On this basis, it is not possible ‘to distinguish convincingly between art and pornography.’
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