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Six propositions on the sonics of pornography
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-09, 00:25 authored by Sharif Mowlabocus, Andy Medhurst
Pornography (and all its contentious pleasures, contested politics and attendant problematics) is enjoying a fresh wave of academic attention. The overwhelming majority of these studies, however, focus on the visual discourses of sexually explicit material. This risks the sonic dimensions of pornography being overlooked entirely. Yet porn is anything but silent. This speculative article maps out some of the ways in which the sounds of pornography (and the pornography of sound) might be approached in the analytical context of gay male culture. Not only do the texts of porn contain assorted sounds (dialogue, soundtracks, non-verbal noises of participation, background and accidental audio), they also seek to prompt sounds (not least the non-verbal noises pornography seeks to elicit during the moments of its consumption) and sometimes depend on sound alone (telephone lines that allow access to recorded narratives or ‘live’ chat). Pornography speaks in particular accents, it mobilizes particular music, it dances to particular tunes and it relies on the pants we hear as much as the pants we see. If queer cultures have their own distinctive worlds of sound, then the sonic armouries of porn play a prominent role within them.
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