Pornography And New Media Essay

1158 words - 5 pages

Pornography, depending on how one defines it, has existed for thousands of years in the forms of picture, sculpture, performance, and writing. Over the centuries the arrival of new media has broadened the flow of distribution of pornography and erotica to the masses, making it readily accessible. From the printing press, to photography, to film, each new medium has provoked a call for censorship from concerned citizens during the early stages of its existence. Pornography has taken major steps, particularly in the last fifty years: Playboy, the first magazine of its type, produced its first issue in 1955; pornographic film gained widespread popularity in the 1970's; the invention of the VCR allowed consumers to view film pornography in the privacy of their homes, thus expanding its audience; and the latest medium, the Internet, has revolutionized the industry by offering an infinite range of porn styles and accessibility to the adult entertainment empire. The broad reach of the Internet, however, is by no means a purely positive step; it has already begun to negatively impact its consumers in many ways.
The Internet offers a means of reaching millions of consumers who can purchase and view porn in virtual anonymity. The necessity of embarrassing trips to sex shops and other public admissions to one's private life can now be completely avoided. Just about anything one could want to see-from mainstream pornography, to peculiar fetishes-are available for purchase or download over the World Wide Web, usually with little more consequence than a monthly fee. The increased anonymity and accessibility expands porn's audience to professionals, politicians, and teenagers, who would otherwise be concerned about being caught.
The vastness and anonymity of the Internet makes the regulation of pornography very difficult. Material can be mass distributed by anyone with a website or an email address at an extremely low cost. The Internet is a particularly effective venue for amateur pornography because of the remarkably cheap cost of production and numerous possibilities for distribution. Because Internet cannot be contained within states, or even countries, there is little the government can do to control content without hindering first amendment rights, despite past attempts. The most aggressive attempt at internet control was made in 1996 with the development of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) which proposed to make it illegal to send "indecent material by the Internet into others computers" (Wilkins 1996). While the bill passed through congress quickly, it was immediately attacked as unconstitutional under the first amendment. The famous case of Reno v. ACLU, the Supreme Court ruled that the act was unconstitutional and the law was never put into place. The primary argument being that, while the CDA aimed to protect people, particularly minors, from exposure to pornographic material, it could not do so without impinging on adults' freedom of speech...

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