15
   

Pornography v. erotica?

 
 
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 10:50 am
What, if any, is the difference between them?

I started wondering about it after reading Leonard Pitt's editorial about Karen Fletcher, the torture-porn writer whose stories are about children(www.miamiherald.com/living/columnists/leonard-pitts/story/664628.html).

I guess I have always thought of pornography as visual and erotica as written but now I'm not sure my working definition is correct.

Do you make any distinction between the two?
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  4  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 10:57 am
@boomerang,
Certainly there is at first the legal difference (which differs in various societies).

Personally, I think erotica to be art works in which the sexual element is regarded as part of the larger aesthetic aspect.

Pornography, in my opinion, intends to cause sexual excitement.
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 11:05 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Interesting, Walter. The dictionary definition of erotica is:

Quote:
Literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire.


which sounds like your, and my, definition of pornography.

But I do think you're right about the sexual element as being a component of the overall work instead of the subject of the work.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  3  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 11:09 am
@boomerang,
Maybe if it causes sexual excitement, but doesn't look like it's intended to, it's erotica.

I just made that answer up, by the way.
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 11:15 am
@roger,
It's a pretty good answer, roger!

I was thinking about what I've heard about "vampire fiction" (I don't know what else to call it). I've heard it called erotica but I can't imagine finding anything erotic about vampires.

Or horror and crime novels that feature graphic scenes. I suppose some people probably do find those scenes titillating. Would that qualify them as erotica?
Izzie
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 11:15 am
@boomerang,
Oh....

I guess I have distinct differentiation between them... but hey...

seeing someone dance, e.g. a tango or... whatever, you know what I mean - that can be erotic/sensual/sexual.... but I certainly wouldn't think it pornographic.

Pornography.... well, that's a whole different ball game Embarrassed 'scuse the pun!
roger
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 11:37 am
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

Or horror and crime novels that feature graphic scenes. I suppose some people probably do find those scenes titillating. Would that qualify them as erotica?


Generally, I think of that as plain pornography, again, this is purely my own perspective. Very few good writers think they have to include it to make their books sell.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 12:01 pm
@Izzie,
Dancing is an interesting comparison, Izzie. Again, there is a sexual element to it but it isn't about sex.

And I agree, roger, that some very mainstream fiction has fairly pornographic scenes which makes me think perhaps the distinction lies in whether it is gratutious.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 12:31 pm
@boomerang,
That's what I wanted to say, but didn't know how to spell it!
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 12:40 pm
@boomerang,
I always considered erotica to include sexual overtones without being obscene or vulgar. Gypsy Rose Lee, for instance, never REALLY showed everything; she just made her audience imagine that they would see it. She was funny and provocative and titillating and erotic but only the most prudish of prudes would think it obscene. Persons with unhealthy compulsions or obsessions re sex would find it boring and unsatisfying.

Compare that with kiddie porn to arouse purient interests or graphic scenes of sex and bondage leaving nothing to the imagination in Hustler Magazine and you're into pornography. That doesn't mean everybody who enjoys looking at it is a sicko of course, but there are some who crave it like a drug addict craves a fix and it is intended to arouse and satisfy, not just entertain.
Thomas
 
  5  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 02:24 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
What, if any, is the difference between them?

Now there's an easy one. When I look at it, it's "erotica", when you look at it, it's "pornography". How much plainer can it get?
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 06:18 pm
@Foxfyre,
So again, erotica contains elements of sexuality but it isn't all about sex.

Like Thomas points out, "obscene" and "vulgar" mean different things to different people.

Personally, I don't find mainstream porn obscene or vulgar but stupid, sad, creepy, and boring, certainly not erotic. I'm not really opposed to it's production but I don't get the attraction. (I've never seen any of the fetish stuff nor do I intend to so I can't even speak to that other than if it involves children it should be illegal.)

According to the dictionary pornography and erotica are essentially the same thing -- pictures or words used to incite sexual arousal -- but it seems we all agree that there is a difference.
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 06:38 pm
Makes me think of I-don't-know-who's definition of an alcoholic: "Someone who drinks more than I do."




I think this isn't an either/or, all-or-none proposition. It would be simple enough to created a continuum of art-erotica-porn, I'd think. For instance, I'd be inclined to put Milan Kundera somewhere near the boundary of art and erotica, and, say, some of the smarter (and older) material on suicidegirls.com (yes, there's a lech in me, but I don't likey the silicone) at the boundary of erotica and porn.

Of course, where the boundaries lie are going to depend on who-where-when, of course. Marylin Monroe's nudie pics, for instance, are about on the same level these days as a lot of mainstream magazine advertising (which, as advertising, falls somewhere lateral to the continuum).
Endymion
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 06:52 pm
@patiodog,
Erotica leaves something to the imagination
Pornography leaves nothing to the imagination

wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 07:56 pm
In the 1960's the U.S. Supreme Court handled a lot of obscenity cases. One justice said, "Obscenity is hard to define, but I know it when I see it."
hingehead
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Sep, 2008 08:39 pm
@Endymion,
I think Endymion is close. I think pornography is more 'biological'. I tend to think you can have erotica without images of genitals, but not pornography. Erotica appeals more to the overbrain than the underbrain, but there are obvious overlaps.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Sep, 2008 03:59 am
@wandeljw,
Not the exact quote, but close enough. You're thinking of Potter Stewart, in Jacobellis v. Ohio. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobellis_v._Ohio
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  2  
Reply Wed 3 Sep, 2008 05:51 am
@hingehead,
Quote:
I think Endymion is close. I think pornography is more 'biological'. I tend to think you can have erotica without images of genitals, but not pornography. Erotica appeals more to the overbrain than the underbrain, but there are obvious overlaps.


I don't know about that. I think you can have porn without images of genitalia. Bondage, for instance, presents such an opportunity.

Interestingly, I was at a lecture once by a very curious American who lived in Japan in the 70s and frequented gay bathhouses where slasher flicks were shown as pornography. There is, he said, a long tradition in Japan (starting on the stage) of presenting blood-soaked performances for sexual titillation -- that is, as pornography.
etan
 
  3  
Reply Fri 5 Sep, 2008 09:49 am
@boomerang,
"The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting."
-- Gloria Leonard
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Sep, 2008 03:10 pm
@etan,
"Lighting" is as good an answer as any!

Slasher flicks as porn, huh? That seems a bit counterintuitive.
0 Replies
 
 

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