Gross Obscenity, Net Porn

The Mainstream Pollution of Netflix

In the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. Supreme Court oversaw a series of so-called "obscenity cases," in which various films, books, and other material faced court inspection to judge their moral worth (or lack thereof). The cases led to some pretty entertaining definitions of what constitutes obscenity, but perhaps the best is that of Justice Potter Stewart, a former naval officer, who famously quipped of hardcore porn, "I know it when I see it."

It seems that the powers-that-be at various pornography distribution websites also "know it when they see it," and have decided that the steamy new Netflix hit series Bridgerton qualifies. "Pirated nude sex scenes from the period piece have racked up hundreds of thousands of views on adult video-streaming platforms," reports the New York Post, Fox News, and other outlets, "leaving Netflix execs struggling to yank the unauthorized shared footage."1

Phoebe Dynevor, the 25-year-old actress who stars as Daphne Bridgerton, "is reportedly devastated that her revealing work on Netflix's most-watched original series is being exploited." An "insider" told The Sun, "Raunchy set-pieces have contributed to the buzz, but it is a prestige drama based on best-selling novels. . . . To peddle scenes as pure smut is beyond the pale."2 Dynevor and her costar, Regé-Jean Page, "signed on for the role of a lifetime and did not consent to being exploited in this way."

Weaseling Out of the Porn Category

For those unaware of Bridgerton, the Regency-era drama follows the love story of Dynevor's and Page's characters—Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings—as their fake courtship turns into real romance. The drama is known for its many "steamy" sex scenes, particularly (spoiler alert!) between the duke and Daphne once they have wed, but also featuring other minor characters in various stages of dress, undress, and copulation.

The series is not devoid of merit; there is some delightful dialogue, and there are real lessons—such as Daphne's mother telling her that her love for the duke must every day be "a decision"—but mostly, Bridgerton is sensational and sensual. Dynevor has elsewhere defended the lengthy, explicit sex scenes, saying they weren't gratuitous but rather told the story of her character's "sexual maturation."3

It seems that various porn distributors disagree, however. What is particularly interesting here is that, according to the media sources, it is somehow unacceptable for sex scenes in Bridgerton to be considered porn because, as such, they would be outside of the actors' "consent" and thus be "exploitation." (Their use as porn also, of course, poses a threat to Netflix's ability to make money off of Bridgerton's sex scenes.)

The language of "consent" runs deep in the porn world also, with many porn stars having "no lists," that is, lists of actions they refuse to perform, but many of these same stars also praise the freedom that allows for "adult entertainment." A nude sex scene is legitimate porn, the line of reasoning seems to go, only if everyone involved has consented and only if the "artists" choose to call it such. Nude sex scenes from a Netflix hit drama, however, aren't porn, because Netflix doesn't make porn, and because the actors themselves consider their work to be art.

But Yes, It Is Porn

This particular instance of the misuse of language is but one of many, but such continual and deliberate deception lies at the base of the destruction of the American family.

Naked sex scenes don't constitute porn, Netflix says. Sex outside of marriage is normal, healthy, and good, decades of activists have told us. No one gets hurt as long as it's consensual. Marriage is an outdated form of patriarchal oppression, the media says, and in any case, is only one family form among many. Divorce can be beneficial, and children are resilient, decades of therapists have told splintering families. Gender—the sexes are no more—is fluid, the university gender theorists say, and thus biology is devoid of meaning. And we suddenly have the spectacle of confused boys on girls' wrestling teams, and we learn that "people who menstruate" has become the new term for what used to be known as "women."

It's no wonder we're all confused. "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil," wrote the prophet Isaiah (5:20). Language matters, and the defense of words and their proper meanings can be a moral act. The first step for Christians is to call a spade a spade, call evil acts evil, and admit that yes, Netflix is, in fact, a distributor of porn.

Notes
1. Rob Bailey-Millado, "Netflix is struggling to keep hot 'Bridgerton' sex off porn sites," New York Post (January 18, 2021): https://nypost.com/2021/01/18/netflix-struggles-to-keep-bridgerton-sex-off-of-porn-sites.
2. Daniel Sperling, "BRIDGERTON TOO FAR—Netflix bosses battle to keep Bridgerton sex scenes off porn sites after cast left devastated," The Sun (January 18, 2021): thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/13770096/netflix-bridgerton-sex-scene-phoebe-dynevor-rege-jean-page.
3. Jennifer Maas, "'Bridgerton': Phoebe Dynevor on Those Steamy Scenes That Tell Daphne's 'Sexual Evolution' Story," The Wrap (December 25, 2020): thewrap.com/bridgerton-ending-daphne-simon-baby-sex-scenes-season-2.

is the managing editor of The Natural Family, the quarterly publication of the International Organization for the Family.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #56, Spring 2021 Copyright © 2021 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo56/gross-obscenity-net-porn

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