4 Ways Your Grandparents' Dirty Movies Changed The World
These days, viewing adult content is fairly simple: Turn off safe search, see boobs. Truly, the future is more amazing than even the loftiest science fiction utopia. So it might be be hard to believe there was a time when people read porn magazines for the articles, and smut could change the world for the better. But ...
Porn Used To Be The Minor Leagues For Respected Filmmakers
Nowadays, the next huge star might spring out of the Disney Channel or a YouTube video, but it used to be porn. Hardcore stars who can make the leap to mainstream film are rarities, but the business used to be different. Just ask Wally Pfister (amazingly, not a porn name), Christopher Nolan's Oscar-winning frequent cinematographer, who began his career filming such obscure wank material as Secret Games before he got huge.
That wasn't a fluke, either. Before The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola made a few other films almost as mortifying as Jack. Jonathan Demme, the guy who directed The Silence Of The Lambs and Philadelphia, kicked off his career with a lesbian exploitation film whose tagline read "Women's Prison U.S.A. -- Rape, Riot & Revenge! White Hot Desires Melting Cold Prison Steel!"
What we're saying, starry-eyed kids, is that porn is absolutely your launchpad to Hollywood.
The '80 Porn Boom Helped Create Online Shopping
In the ancient and savage era of the 1980s, if you wanted to see some sexy action, you had to go to a sticky theater or buy a VHS tape from a man with a mustache who would absolutely judge you. There was no other way to pay for it ... until Richard Gordon drifted into the phone sex world and devised a method of paying by phone. Credit card companies were adorably scandalized, insisting that there was simply no secure way to process such payments without physically holding the card in your grubby little fingers.
The banking industry tried to roadblock the business model by charging higher fees for such transactions, but they soon found that no grip was too strong for the American penis. By the late '90s, Gordon's model had proven itself more than viable, and it bloomed into a web retailing service. They still sold smut like the Tommy Lee / Pamela Anderson sex tape, but then a little-known new e-retailer named Amazon appeared on the scene, took the idea, and ran with it.
Thanks to the market for discreet masturbation, you never have to go inside a physical store again. Unless, for some weird reason, you don't want to support an ominous megacorporation hellbent on world domination.
Playboy Introduced Porn Fiends To High Culture
Now the last hope for has-been starlets desperate to stay relevant, early Playboy had insanely impressive cultural cred. The list of contributors for the 1966 holiday issue reads like an English lit syllabus.
These weren't just trashy throwaways from a coincidentally exclusive pool of writers. Many of the stories had nothing to do with sex. One of the first printings of Fahrenheit 451 occurred in the pages of Playboy. Their sex advice columnist was a best-selling author, for crying out loud. It was a "gentlemen's magazine" without the air quotes, running features on arts and culture right next to the boobs.
And those boobs were photographed by only the best, including Annie Leibovitz, alongside art by Keith Haring and Patrick Nagel (the guy who illustrated the 1980s). Freaking Salvador Dali collaborated with Playboy.
The publication spent a lot of time trying to outdo 60 Minutes, securing sit-downs with a bevy of important figures like Fidel Castro, Muhammad Ali (in a suspiciously forgotten article where he floated the idea that miscegenation should be punishable by death), Martin Luther King Jr. (the longest conversation he ever granted to any magazine), and Steve Jobs (before he was even famous!).
Playboy was the most trusted authority for all aspects of the upscale man's lifestyle -- what he should think, buy, read, watch, listen to, and even eat. Hefner's most trusted culinary aficionado, Thomas Mario, introduced horny readers to the idea of using applewood chips for flavoring meat, curried chicken livers, and how to prepare (and spell) lobster pate. In excruciating detail. Including a 500-page book. Yep, Playboy also invented food porn.
You Can Thank Porn Lovers For The Rise Of Social Media
Practically the whole dang internet was created because people wanted to jerk off, and now ... well, it's mostly still that. The first incarnation of message boards, then adorably called "bulletin board systems" or BBS, were painfully slow peer-to-peer networks like Usenet, which connected one user's computer to another so they could share files. And you know exactly what kinds of files. OK, it wasn't all porn; just 83.5 percent of it.
Did you recognize that term, "peer-to-peer"? Because that's what Napster used. It's what allowed the floodgates of digital media to open. It's what the entire idea of social media is based on. The first version of the social internet was essentially a bunch of scanned copies of Playboy centerfolds.
It was only decades later, after we'd finally finished wiping ourselves off, that we realized we could use the web for a lot of other stuff as well. So the next time some perv slides into your DMs, remember that you have some other, older perv to thank for it.
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