Friday, 22 November 2013

Viewer Discretion Advised



The following article contains matter that is not meant for young children.  Perhaps you knew this, perhaps the title is what spurred you on to click this article.

It's not something I like to focus on, but it's something that is focused on too much, and not in the correct light either.  I'm talking about porn.  I'm also talking about much more than that.

Scientific studies (and I'm not talking about "biased Christian" studies either) have shown that what humans observe on television and on other forms of media affect people's attitudes and behaviour. 

Today I watched a video clip on how people who watch reality TV shows with higher degrees of aggressive and violent behaviour come to expect and accept this when it happens in real life.  The same goes for reality TV's ability to install in people a distrust in others.

Not too long ago I watched how studies also proved how watching violence in movies increases makes a person more violently inclined, but this happened to a much smaller degree than how watching sexual content increased a person's desire for sexual gratification.

I'm not one of those avid preachers against violence in video games.  Certain people are more sensitive to violence either because it bothers them or because they are one of those people who revel in the violence itself and/or become more aggressive in nature as a result of the games they play, so they should probably stay away from these video games, but that's not everyone.  That is not what this article is really about, I just wanted to make the point that I'm not just a super religious up-tight dude who is out to ruin everyone's fun;  I've shot my share of Nazi zombies on Call of Duty.

We are sensitive to the things we observe, and we become desensitized without losing this sensitivity.  We still absorb the forms of media and let it affect our mindsets (the "sensitive" part), thus dulling our conscience to accept the profane as acceptable (the "desensitized" part).


Porn

Have you noticed how people's definition of "porn" has changed?  Your parents will know that "porn" is just short for "pornography," which contains obscene material designed to satisfy a person's sexual desire.  Yet today, I see the word "porn" evolving into something that simply means "something that looks beautiful that makes me want it."  There's a huge difference.  For instance, on Twitter there is an account called "Food Porn."  This account doesn't focus on food shaped in sexual images, but rather on food that looks quite delicious.  I would personally follow this account if it wasn't for the fact that I disagreed with their name.

But it doesn't stop at "food porn."  It seems that more and more people are referring to non-sexual but still desirable things as "porn."  Checking out different dictionaries confirmed my suspicions.  Here is the definition of "porn" from my iPod:

noun - creative activity (writing or pictures or films etc.) of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire

Although I may have a small objection to calling porn "creative," this definition is more or less matches the traditional viewpoint on porn.

Now take a look at the definition of porn from Dictionary.com:

1.  Also pornography
2.  television shows, articles, photographs, etc., thought to create or satisfy an excessive desire for something, especially something luxurious: the irresistible appeal of food porn; an addiction to real-estate porn.

Do you find that I'm making a big deal out of nothing, that there's nothing wrong with taking a term that once meant something obscene and using it to describe something appealing?  I would be inclined to agree with you, except for the fact that the attitude towards porn transcends just its definition.  More and more people, even though they may not find it suitable conversation material, are viewing porn as something innocent.  If not innocent, than at least something tolerable, as pretty much every American youth has viewed pornography, and a large portion of them develop an addiction to it.  It's something that is the norm, and therefore it's more acceptable in the Western mindset.

Remember when I said that I wasn't just some super religious dude who was out to take away people's fun?  Well I am wanting to take away some of your "fun" if you are a fan of pornography.  Actually, my "religion" doesn't even need to come into the equation for me to make my point.

I heard on the radio that women don't have any more self control than men when it comes to wanting to satisfy sexual desires:  it's because men generally have more sexual desires than women that makes them give in more often and make them seem weaker.  Although this article and many of those that focus on pornography focus on the man as the culprit and women as the victim, I am only doing so for simplification reasons, we should acknowledge that women are often guilty as well.

When people who are against pornography discuss the topic, they often bring up the phrase "pornography objectifies women."  What does this phrase mean exactly?  Does it mean that men who view pornography are reducing the image of women in their minds to simple appliances useful only for satisfying their sexual desires?  As I want to make a logical assessment of the situation, I'm going to put aside my disgust and the emotional response I have, and take a step back and look at objectifying objectively.

Let us say that we go to the movies and watch a scene where there is a taxi driver.  As we watch this taxi driver, we see that as they are not an important character in the script of the movie, they are only as useful as their ability to drive a taxi from point A to point B.  If their car gets blown up with them in it, it's too bad, but in the end our emotions don't differ too much because they were just a nameless inconsequential character whose personality and background didn't matter too much.  In our minds, we have objectified this character, have we not?  We have taking away from their humanity by making it no big deal whether they survive until the end of the movie.  Is this wrong?  For those that would say that it is, I would need to go no further to prove why objectifying a women would be wrong.  But the majority of people would say "no Stephen, it's just a movie, put up for our enjoyment."  Okay, but there are those who say that porn is just films/images put up for our enjoyment.  What's to make one objectifying act more contemptible than another?

Woah, woah there my friends, I'm not playing the devil's advocate because I agree with the devil.  Porn is wrong.  For those of you who are already convinced of this fact, don't worry, we'll get there eventually, feel free to fast forward to the next section of the article.  I want my readers to think, to use their brain, and I can't do this if I simply use generic phrases without putting any thought into it myself.

I could have ended this section long ago by simply stating the solid, bible based argument against pornography:  lust is wrong, it's wrong to create in our minds a standard of beauty to compare our wives to rather than making our wife our standard of beauty for a women, etc.  However, I'm not trying to convince the Christians that porn is wrong.  Those of us who struggle with porn probably know that what we are doing is wrong and the obedient among us are fighting our sinful desires.  There are those out there who don't necessarily believe in the bible or even God, so this article is for them.  Perhaps you clicked this article hoping for pictures.  This article probably is directed towards you most of all.

Your average porn viewer has their share of female friends who they hold in esteem much higher than they would an object.  Seeing a character objectified in a form of media doesn't mean people see real, live people in the same way.

Just as watching reality shows depicting backstabbing gossip and betrayal affects the way people view actual relationships, so does porn affect the way people view sex.  When people's new, altered expectations of sex isn't met, they get anywhere from disappointed to irritated - and I think we all can agree that this is wrong, regardless of our beliefs.  In a sense, they are measuring their experience by what they read in magazines or watch on the internet.

Also, an increased intake of sexual material into our minds increases its sexual desire.  It's science.  This is one reason why people say porn objectifies women.  Men, with their increased sexual desire, turn to the women in their life to fulfill these desires.  That's not to say they view women as mere instruments to satisfy their fleshly cravings, but they add on to their opinion of women a new layer, the layer that says that the woman has the ability to please them sexually and only a woman who would want to please him is worth investing a large amount of time in. 

Am I wrong?  Is it not normal today for a boyfriend to expect sex from his girlfriend, and vise versa?  No, pornography isn't the sole contributor to this, but it's still a huge contributor.  Our brains are impacted by the messages we receive by media. 

Okay Stephen, so what if now people want more sex, what's the big deal?  Why is it wrong for boys to have sex with their girlfriends?  I have imposed on myself the huge handicap of not being able to use God and the truth of his moral law as a reason, so therefore I will have to use the shakier support of world physics to back myself up.  Cause and effect:

1.  Teenage pregnancies.  In today's society, this doesn't exactly mean a quick marriage.  Women/men are forced to raise kids on their own.  There's court cases regarding custody and child support.  Kids grow up without a solid father or mother figure in their lives, which has psychological downsides.  Or, as an alternative, abortions occur, which have a significant emotional impact especially for the girl even if those involved aren't pro-life.

2.  Boyfriends have a higher tendency to see sex as an obligation, and will react negatively if this part of their relationship is not being met.

3.  A part of the enjoyment of sex with the boy/girl's future spouse is lost forever.

Can you see the trends too?  I'm not trying to blame pre-marital sex or porn for the problems of this world, but one doesn't need to be a genius to see the connections.

The more one fills one's mind with pornography, the more they think about it.  It's really the same with anything.  The more you work, the more you think about work.  The more you play video games, the more your mind tends to go back to those video games.  I've quit playing World of Warcraft years ago but I still find myself thinking about it.  I had spent so much time playing it I was dreaming about it on a regular basis.

The more we fill our minds with sexualized imagery, the more we either look for it in real life or see it in real life despite our conscious efforts to not look for it.  A pornography ridden mind sees the world in a much more different way than a clean mind does.  A porn filled brain is accustomed to looking for sexual images and things to fulfill a sexual desire.  This conditioning of the mind carries into real life, with the eyes having no end of places to find sexual/lusty material in this North American society.  A woman in a bikini looks different to a man who has made a habit of feeding his mind's sexual desires than to a man who has kept his mind pure.  One might see a woman in revealing clothing while the other just sees someone having enjoying the sun, which there's nothing wrong with.  Yep, this is science.

Okay, a porn addicts mind may be tainted to change his perspective, but what's wrong with that?  Is it not lust just nature's way of getting us to procreate?  Here's the implications...

Seeing a female as someone you would like to sleep with will affect your relationship with her.  Sure, you're not objectifying her in the sense that you only view her as a sex object, but you still have an extra barrier to overcome if you are to see her in the respectful way that she wants you to see her.

Let's say you become a father of a girl.  You will feel incredibly awkward around your daughter when her body matures into the state of the bodies of the ones you lust over while looking at pornography.

True, the effects of pornography will differ from person to person, but you are just lying to yourself if you say that it doesn't have any effect on you.

Remember when I said that I am here to take away your fun if you are getting your enjoyment from pornography?  Well, my ulterior motives are that I want to increase your fun.  I want you to enjoy the people around you in the way that they should be enjoyed, in a respectful and pure way.  This kind of enjoyment is much deeper than the shallow bodily satisfaction you may get from lusting over them.

Do you get how pornography is wrong?  Do you disagree with any of the evidence I have presented?  I am admittedly a lazy researcher, but for the sake of helping you gain a healthier mind, I would be willing to dig up more evidence and quote my sources for anything I have brought up so far.

If I wanted to I could say how many if not most of porn stars were victims of sexual abuse while younger, or how the porn industry has contributed to the sex-trafficking industry.  But that's not the point I want to make with this article. 

Remember the title?  Viewer discretion advised.  When we fill our minds with images or ideas, our attitudes are affected, at the very least the subconscious level, which undermines our conscious decisions.  Someone who is always listening to people use profanity are more likely to pick up the bad habit themselves.  It's not written in stone, but it's wise not to test the law of probability in cases such as this.


Music

It's a downhill vicious cycle.  What is shown in media is determined by the demand of the consumers, and consumers are affected by what they intake from the media.

I admit it, I'm bothered by a hit-list music.  Perhaps people wouldn't like to listen to my Christian music.  Well, I don't want to listen to music that blatantly blares lies and dangerous philosophies.

Music may not as strong of a direct impact as porn does.  Yet it does advocate different ideas and ideals through its music, and the more one listens to this music, the more one has to practice either rejecting the lyrics or accepting it.  Do you prefer music with lyrics you can relate to, or music with lyrics that you simply disagree with?  People tend to listen to music with lyrics that they agree with.  The more they listen to these lyrics, the more they may grow to believe the lyrics as truth, or at least tolerate it as an acceptable mantra.

Let me take a popular song to make my point.  Here's an excerpt from Miley Cyrus' "The Climb."

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

When Miley came out with this song, I was bothered right away by the lyrics.  Perhaps I'm misinterpreting it here, but it seems to me like it's saying that we can strive for anything, and it doesn't matter what we're striving for.  The fact that we're striving for it is what it's all about.

I like how perseverance is portrayed as a virtue in this song.  It's true, perseverance and hard work pays off.  However, the end destination does matter; it does matter what is on the other side.  Yes, we can learn and grow our character in the process, but if we're trying to reach a place that is built on a fault line, how strong we have become will not stop us from being swallowed by the earth when we get there.

If the end destination is the climb itself, we will find ourselves living without purpose, as long as we're living.  Moving mountains means nothing if there isn't anything on the other side worth going to.

Because it's on my mind and since I can, allow me to be so bold as to evaluate the song in the light of the author.  Miley Cyrus, to me, seems to be someone who has done a lot of striving, and the end destination she was going for was herself.  She wanted to be whatever she wanted regardless of what other people wanted for her.

Recently I've seen Miley being mocked even more than Justin Bieber.  I personally believed that Miley was climbing the wrong mountain.  Yes, she is a hugely successful artist:  her infamy still adding to her fame, and she is more wealthy than probably 99% of the people who will read this article, but does she look like someone who is deeply happy, who has benefited from the process of climbing regardless of destination?

When you listen to a song, every once in a while I want you to exercise your brain a bit.  What is the meaning of the song that you are listening to?  Do you believe the lyrics?  Is it truth or just a catchy tune?  If you believe the lyrics and follow it to it's likely conclusion, what is the result?  How does believing the lyrics affect the way you treat other people, how does it affect the way you see life?

There's tonnes of good music out there; you don't need to listen to music that portrays lust, cheating, and frivolous living as innocent in order to enjoy some tunes.

Viewer discretion advised.  Please, for the health of your mind, take moments to discern whether the things you are choosing to fill your mind with, whether it be pictures, videos, music, or words, are things that will affect your brain in a negative manner.

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