opinion

Can Softcore Porn Be ‘Obscene?’

Stephen Yagielowicz
Declaring that “Commercials like those promoting ‘Girls Gone Wild’ are clearly supporting an obscene product,” Tennessee Democrat, Sen. Doug Jackson, has introduced legislation that would outlaw television advertising – both broadcast and cable – of adult entertainment products. “These products are illegal under Tennessee law, and we have a clear interest in preventing their advertising,” the Senator said, according to a recent XBIZ News report.

Now, I’ve always felt that GGW had far too high a level of ‘exposure,’ given its widespread bombardment of late night television with ads that have surely generated a mountain of complaints – and some that featured folks – and daughters of folks – who want this little operation put to bed.

But is this material “obscene?” The words that come to my mind include “fun” or “silly” or “cute” or “naughty” perhaps, but “obscene?”

I ran a poll at XBIZ this week based upon this story, the current results of which I find a bit surprising; as they show that the majority of respondents believe that softcore porn could indeed be possibly considered obscene. I say “surprising” results since I expect our dominantly liberal audience would see softcore as “always ok” – but echoing a similar sentiment to that expressed over the Red Rose stories obscenity case – there does appear to be a “line” that shouldn’t be crossed: and you don’t need to show hardcore material in order to cross that line.

The results might be different if I asked “Do you think Girls Gone Wild is obscene?” instead of the more inclusive term, “softcore,” but one certainty is that there’s a broad diversity of opinions over what and what is not “obscene.”

As for one Democratic Senator’s opinion, Jackson wants “‘Girls Gone Wild’ and their obscenity-laden products” out of our living rooms. “If you have the television on at night, you can’t help but see these suggestive, disgusting commercials advertising a product that is clearly obscene in nature,” Jackson said.

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