The Death of Obscenity


If you consider yourself marvellous and cinematic, today is a good day. Britain’s obscenity laws took a hammering this afternoon after a jury voted unanimously to allow a male escort to distribute some rather filthy DVDs.

The movies showed mostly fisting and golden showers. I always understood the attraction of golden showers, in a power fantasy sort of way. The trouble was the practicalities. By the time you decided to do it, you’d have to traipse all the way to the shower and the whole thing would likely become ridiculous. Also, there’s a physical contradiction between arousal and urination in the male genitalia.

If you’re enjoying it, it seems to me impossible. Presumably they have a way round this problem but I’m not sure what it is.

Fisting never held any attraction to me whatsoever, in either an active or passive context. Actually I find it quite repulsive.

Here are some other things I find repulsive: Nose hair, Chinese manners, adverts selling Jeremy Clarkson’s new book at Christmas, the breath of Ukip supporters, the way women respond to babies and cats, cinnamon, management consultants, Worthing, Downton Abbey, the centre of American political gravity and quiche.

Unfortunately for me, modern society has recognised that one cannot impose one’s moral preferences on others. Except in one case, which is the recording of acts which “tend to deprave or corrupt”.

Legal precedents have charming side effects. The tendency to deprave or corrupt, for instance, suggests that those who are already corrupted are entitled to watch whatever they like, while children and the unbearably naive are protected. This is a good reason to physically separate the puritanical from the naughty, an apartheid I have encouraged throughout my career. I’d like to ghettoise them and then let lose, without any neighbours to complain about the noise.

Film-makers were also very cautious of falling fowl of the Obscene Publications Act. They expressed this caution in some rather delightful ways, including by only allowing an actor to insert four fingers, rather than five, into the anus of their co-star. I find something marvellously British about that, particularly the image of the director shouting out to his actor to halt the movement of that pivotal fifth finger. Now THAT would be disgusting.

The unanimous verdict confirms an encouraging truth about this country. Most people really couldn’t care less what you do behind closed doors. That is the British way. It is a cornerstone of our cultured nightlife, which you can glimpse on the streets of any major urban centre on the weekend.

There are some people, however, who care enough for the rest of us. They are called the Crown Prosecution Service. The very same organisation which refused to press charges against the police for assaulting Ian Tomlinson but which simply can’t abide consenting adults watching other consenting adults do things to each other.

They now have to sit in a room and have a meeting to figure out what they’re going to do, although it seems likely they will have to pack in the whole obscenity thing and concentrate their busybody, curtain-tweaking obsession on the grossly authoritarian legislation Labour offered them instead. Poor things.

For this evening anyway, there’s cause to celebrate. Have a glass of wine. Do a little mild fisting. Relax. We just won a little battle against the humourless.

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