Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Notes on Smut


Smut is to porn what Whitesnake is to death metal: same family, different intensity level. I’m not going to pretend that smut isn’t offensive to many, or that it doesn’t come from an exploitative and abusive industry, but, like it or not, smut has, over the years, achieved a place in British mainstream culture that pornography never could.

So why are glimpses of tits and arses more acceptable to us than tit fucks and anal? Perhaps because it’s so pathetic, so un-erotic, an abstraction of the act of sex - and no smut is more pathetic and un-erotic and abstract than UK sex films made in the second half of the twentieth century.

In films like This, That & The Other and a hundred others, sex was portrayed as a joke, an un-erotic and often uncomfortable act that we just weren’t any good at. These sex comedies are rarely funny and never sexy: they merely existed to show flesh to an audience for whom flesh was in short supply.

It’s rather sad. The French and Italians revel in their reputations as great lovers; the Scandinavians and Germans see sex as a healthy, natural process: the British feign outrage or disinterest and then snigger and gulp and peep into badly decorated bedrooms to watch ugly people doing unattractive things and kid ourselves that this is racy, risqué, rebellious. Smut embodies that red faced timidity, that bare faced hypocrisy: it’s porn for people who can’t take the real thing; sex for people who don't know what's sexy.

Mounds and Circles is not about smut, but it will be smutty. It will also be intelligent, thoughtful, educational and varied. I can guarantee this, as I am not the only contributor.

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