Pornography’s Media Breakdown

The image shows a VHS tape whose shiny film tape is caught inside a VCR player. The tape and player sit on top of a brown wood surface.
WHEN PORN BREAKS

What happens when our porn stops working? This is a doubly evasive topic because porn is often still ignored as an important component of media studies and breakdown is itself hard to understand. In this project, I look at a particular kind of breakdown: that of gay porn on VHS in the late 70s and early 80s. The project is motivated by an experimental methodological and writing style. I take four different approaches to understanding this kind of porn rupture: using material culture, an interview, psychoanalysis, and domestic media analysis. I write much of the paper in the second person, calling out to “you” as the reader to implicate the uncertainties and also the possibilities of trying to know moments of breakdown in rigorous ways.

THINKING ABOUT

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