The arrival of digital technology created a “clearing event” much like the social upheaval of the 1960s, and in the wake of that clearing event there would once again be an opportunity for the exploration of explicit sexuality in cinema.
But this time, the opportunity would not be driven by the laissez-faire policies of the MPAA, or new legal freedoms. This time it would be driven by technology that affected everything from how people engaged with the camera in their own personal lives, to the economics of scale for production, marketing, and distribution of media.
Once again this “clearing event” would create new opportunities and optimism that the cinematic language used to present sexuality could finally evolve, and once again there would be a brief flowering of experimentalism.
But as in the period of 1969 to 1975, this new openness and experimentalism wouldn’t last. In fact, by the end of the decade, the Internet had adopted a culture around sexuality that in some ways is arguably more conservative than anything found in traditional media.
Every day at my job I helped people just barely survive. Forget trying to form grass roots political activism by creating a society of computer users, forget trying to be the ‘people’s university’ and create a body of well informed citizens. Instead I helped people navigate through the degrading hoops of modern online society, fighting for scraps from the plate, and then kicking back afterwards by pretending to have a farm on Facebook (well, that is if they had any of their 2 hours left when they were done). What were we doing during the nineties? What were we doing during the boom that we’ve been left so ill served during the bust? No one seems to know. They come in to our classes and ask us if we have any ideas, and I do, but those ideas take money, and political will, and guts, and the closer I get to graduation the less and less I suspect that any of those things exist.
Maybe a year ago I was chatting/emailing/talking with Matt Frost, and he said (from memory, and paraphrasing), “We going to look back at the 90s and realize we let it all slip through our fingers.”
Two things prompt the above thoughts:
1) I’m working on a response to James Poulos’ recent What are Women For? and to the reception his piece received, here at The League and around the ‘Net.
2) I found out that a draft of my own “I’m not really into black chicks.” that I sent to several of my friends got swept up in their spam folders.