Can porn ever be considered art? Former Disney actress Bella Thorne thinks so...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? But can hardcore humping ever be equated with thought-provoking masterpieces? 


Hands up who knew that Bella Thorne is an award-winning director?

Well, as of last week, the starlet gained the accolade from none-other than Pornhub - the YouTube of porn for her work directing a 30-minute film featuring porn actors (Abella Danger and Small Hands). It's called Him and Her and Thorne says it is a "beautiful visionary art."

Pornhub, meanwhile has billed it as "a modernistic, sexually explicit Romeo and Juliet-like depiction of two star-crossed lovers who have unbridled sexual longing for one another."

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Art can mean different things to different people. That's the point of it, really.

But for many, the definition isn't as important as the context in which it is being presented.

Eroticism

For example, erotic art is also a historical reference to sexual preferences and styles from days bygone. Can titty magazines and viral videos of women (usually babysitters of some sort) sating men (often in degrading ways) be included in the same bracket?

I'm no prude, but appraising this kind of set-up as something more than simply an arousal mechanism is surely a little skewed?

Shouldn't we separate aesthetic pleasure from sensual or sexual pleasure?

The moral questions around money and exploitation across the porn industry are hints when it comes to what can or can't be viewed as something that pleases the eye. If we apply the same logic across the board, then images of non-consensual sex and child porn could also be hailed as art. In the real world, however, they are proof of criminality.

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Controversial

So is porn art at all or just bad art? Shouldn't we separate aesthetic pleasure from sensual or sexual pleasure?

Philosphers have long debated the topic of erroticism and its merit as art. One of whom is Jerrold Levinson who concludes that erotic art is an art form, and pornographic art is not. "One induces you, in the name of arousal and release, to ignore the representation as to get at the represented, and the other induces you, in the name of aesthetic delight, to dwell on the representation".

But times have changed. Controversial exhibitions like Cosey Fanni Tutti’s Prostitution exhibition (it prompted walkouts) are de rigour. Fiona Banner’s Turner Prize-nominated Arsewoman in Wonderland was also celebrated for its artistic achievement (It was simply a transcript of a sex movie in big pink letters across a marketing billboard).

Porn of art or art of porn?

Is dropping sex into a gallery all it takes to call something thought-provoking and intellectual? Take this example; Graham Ovenden's drawings were long considered art, he mostly drew young girls in various states of undress. His work was lauded in the arts world, until....he was found guilty of molesting his underage muses. The Tate Gallery withdrew his works from public view. It said Ovenden's pictures worth were undermined by his actions.

Maybe we are overthinking it. Maybe art is art, as decided by the beholder.

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So, the behaviour of an artist negates the value of his or her art. Does that mean Michael Jackson's songs (his art) were warped by the accusations against him? Perhaps we are taking artistic licence ourselves by even debating this. Maybe we are overthinking it. Maybe art is art, as decided by the beholder?

Objectify

How do we respond if our 14-year-old sons protest that they are merely appreciating art on their lap tops for hours in their bedrooms?.

Feminist philosopher Anne Eaton had a different take. She believes that if there is a morally dubious message behind the art, it prevents you from appreciating it as a work of art. From a porn point of view, she believes that to enjoy porn, you have to (partly) objectify women which you can't do while contemplating it as art.

But some believe that the definition of art is that it should prompt an emotional response, give them pleasure, appreciate the work. Before we can consider whether porn is art, perhaps we have to reconcile our feelings on porn. How do we respond if our 14-year-old sons protest that they are merely appreciating art on their lap tops for hours in their bedrooms?

Maybe many of us don't care about the distinction between porn and art. Maybe it is all about seeing something new and provocative and that, in itself, is art...

Image via Instagram 

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