East is Blue

Posted by sepoy on September 14, 2004 · 3 mins read

Salman Rushdie is great. If you want to know how to work it after a fatwa, look to this man. He hangs around celebs, marries a model he picks out on the telly, writes op-eds supporting other authors and perennially remains the Occident's only interlocutor with the Orient.
His latest "controversy" is porn. Yes, that cutting edge issue that hangs heavy on the minds of intellectualls everywhere. Rushdie is one of the authors of an upcoming book of photographs XXX: 30 Porn Star Portraits. The other luminaries featured in the book are Gore Vidal, John Malkovich(?), Lou Reed(huh?), and John Waters (that makes sense). Oh, and a bunch of porn stars.
Anyways, Rushdie's essay claims (disclaimer: I haven't read it, nor all the others condemning it.) that pornography is an essential freedom in repressed societies and he backs that up with internet traffic statistics from Pakistan! From the book's website is the following blur:

It may be that more permissive societies have less need for porn, and certainly they donít need to turn blue movies into icons of revolution or peace ... If the restrictions on ordinary social, romantic and sexual relations that [less permissive] societies impose were to wither away, the need for pornography would very likely diminish, too ... If Western pornography is a symptom of Western decadence, then Eastern pornography is a side-effect of Eastern repressions. Pornography is almost always an effect, or a dramatic symptom of some non-pornographic social malaise. It is almost never a cause.

Last I checked, there were no "essential freedoms repressed" in the US (ok, a few for the brown man) but "the need for pornography" has not shown ANY signs of diminishing. None. I would like to show Rushdie stats for internet usage in the US. I quibble needlessly. In that excerpt, at least, he is hinting broadly at the way Muslim society tries to limit personal freedom. I don't think he is off the mark at all. I have written here many times about the side-effects of repression. People will find what they need and if society pushes the lid shut, those activities will continue in the dark with far more corrosive outcomes. Blue movies, videos, books are easily available throughout the length and breadth of the Land of the Pure.

Press in Pakistan and India is breathlessly reporting this latest attack by Rushdie on basic human dignity, which will give him more publicity and which, like Satanic Verses, no one will actually bother to read.

On a completely unrelated note: Survey reveals that "Most Indian men, keeping alive old stereotypes, have sex only at night in their bedrooms". Glad we got that sorted out now.


Morcy | September 14, 2004

Fuck that essential freedoms red herring shit. The key point is that that smut is "an effect." I can dig on that.

Chan'ad | September 14, 2004

Yeah, this is an interesting topic. I read an interesting news report from Pakistan a few days back which is relevant: - Mob stops closure of porn CD shops on Hall Road LAHORE: A large crowd beat back a city government team that tried to close shops selling pornography on Hall Road on Saturday. Some city government employees ended up in hospital with minor injuries and members of the crowd fired in the air, forcing the raiding team to retreat, according to official sources. - http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_12-9-2004_pg7_17

sepoy | September 14, 2004

I am huge fan of Hall Road. Good for them. We need our pashtun music video compilation CDs dammit.

desesperanto | September 14, 2004

i wonder about the porn stats you link to... Largest consumer of Internet pornography 12 - 17 age group?" how could they possibly know? i also enjoyed "Women, far more than men, are likely to act out their behaviors in real life, such as having multiple partners, casual sex, or affairs."

yaimogwei | February 24, 2006

rushdie's point is not numbers, it's that "If Western pornography is a symptom of Western decadence", extraverted, orgiastic, diverse, "Eastern pornography is a side-effect of Eastern repressions", and indeed mainstream Asian porn usually involves rape situations, male insecurity, and general introversion.