Emo-Porn and Other Plotless, Soulless Cinematic Sub-Genres.

Posted on 21 July 2009 by Quaid

We all know what pornography is.  It’s lurid pictures, or videos, or sounds, created for the sole purpose of getting you aroused.  There is little to no artistic merit.  There is little to no plot.  And its goal is to quicken one’s heart and cause an intense, mindless sensual reaction.

So…a Michael Bay movie, right?

DeepThroatNow I know what you’re going to say.  ”Enough with the Bay bashing, already!  Hasn’t he had enough?”  My response is 1) this article is not about bashing any one specific film, but finding a new way to talk about movies, particularly those whose main goal is not to be objectively “good” in any way, and 2) there can never be enough Bay bashing.

Why do we consistently define pornography solely in terms of sex?  Let’s not be so narrow-minded.  In reality, there are all kinds of porn, most of it sold as straightforward, mainstream Hollywood entertainment.

The first time I saw the word “porn” used to describe a mainstream Hollywood film, it was in reference to one of the Saw movies.  I had to nod in appreciation when I heard the phrase “Torture-Porn” attached to the subset of horror films whose sole goal was to put helpless characters in horrible, brutal situations and watch them get tortured and killed in effed up ways.

The term fit.  The goal of these films was not artistic in nature.  It was simply about creating a visceral reaction in an audience–”arousing” them so to speak–only instead of sex the filmmakers used blood and guts and psychologically horrific situations.  Like with most porn, there was a loose plot thrown in, but that was just window dressing.  These films were about the mindless adrenaline rush.

MeganFoxBikeBut “Torture-Porn” is just the tip of the iceberg.  Movies like Transformers 2 might not have hot lesbian action (though with Megan Fox in the film I’m sure many red-blooded audience members wouldn’t mind it), but damn if that movie isn’t pornography in the purest sense.

It is not trying to make sense or to be interesting…to develop characters or to challenge the viewer.  It is trying to get your blood pumping via sex and action and things blowing up.

In other words, ” ‘Splosion-Porn.”

Others have tried to define this genre, calling its films “popcorn movies” or “mindless action flicks,” but I am proud to say that I think “‘Splosion-Porn” fits the bill best.  Besides, there is such a thing as a non-pornographic “popcorn movie,” like Star Trek or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  Those are movies that give you the pornographic experience, but it’s made all the more rich because of their characters and plot and attention to storytelling.

‘Splosion-Porn films like Transformers 2 never even aspire to be real movies.  These are the films that people defend by saying things like “It doesn’t have to make sense; it’s giant transforming robots!”  Which is an important (and somewhat valid) argument.  There is a difference between a failed action movie and a ‘Splosion-Porn movie in that the latter was never trying to be a real movie in the first place.  It knows what it is, and asks that you judge it solely on those merits.

So we’ve covered the mindless action films and the mean-spirited horror flicks, but I want to push this porn thing just a little bit farther.

Can we think of a movie whose goal is to create arousal in some other fashion?  Some film that knowingly abandons plot and the ideas of storytelling for the sole purpose of eliciting a very specific, emotional response from its target audience?  That’s right, folks.  I’m thinking of Twilight.  And I dub thee “Emo-Porn.”

TwilightFansIt’s a movie driven  so much by teen angst that it’s hard for me to separate the two entities in my own mind.  With all its longing looks, pale flesh, gratuitous slo-mo dolly shots and sex-as-depression thematic content, it cannot be argued that this film is designed to do anything but to give angsty kids their fix of emo-whininess for the day.  If “you-just-don’t-understand-me!” is the Emo-film equivalent of an orgasm, then Twilight must be the Debbie Does Dallas of the Emo-Porn genre.

I’m sure there are other “pornographic” sub-genres floating around in the ether of specialty cinema, but I feel like I’ve blown my wad at this point.  I’ll leave it to our dear readers to develop their own comprehensive lists.  I do feel like I need to make something clear, though.  I have no problem with porn in any of its forms.  If it’s what gets you going, more power to you.  Just don’t come to me claiming Naughty Cheerleader Club 3 is the best movie since Citizen Kane.

Author’s Note: I cannot take credit for the coining of the term “Emo-Porn.”  I stumbled upon it on some unknown message board.  If it is you who gave this genre its most apt name, stand up and take a bow.  We all owe you a debt of gratitude.                           

Categorized | Commentary, Featured

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