Viewing posts tagged channel 4
7 years, 11 months ago
I just rewatched a Channel 4 documentary series I originally saw first time round back in 1999. Pornography: The Secret History of Civilisation.
I remembered it as fascinating, and it certainly was... but not for the reasons I remembered. Watched now, it's fascinating for its intense and suffocating provincialism. I refer to a provincialism of time and cultural moment. To be cruder: the series reeks of the stale atmopshere of the 90s. I don't just mean that it's dated.
After two decent episodes dealing with the Victorian creation of the concept of pornography (i.e. as a closed-off anteroom of culture, only to be studied... and perhaps enjoyed... by responsible, educated males) in the wake of the unearthing of Pompeii, and the revolutionary porn writing of the Enlightenment, the series starts dwelling on 20th century visual forms, from the photograph to the internet.
The last episodes are particularly mired in the stagnant and repellent atmosphere of their era. All the hallmarks of the late-90s intellectual milieu (during which I endured acres of trendy theory at University) are there. The social and political cynicism masquerading as consumerist utopianism. Utopianism ...