Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The PayPal Mess, Amazon, and a cultural observation.

Thanks to a sprained wrist, I can't write at the moment. I can obviously still type, but really, really, really slowly. At least I can blog, though, so here I am. During my involuntary vacation, I've had lots of idle time to just think. And I've been thinking about...stuff. So here I go.

In the last year or so, Amazon and PayPal have both cracked down heavily on certain types of "obscene" material. Generally, this refers to erotic and pornographic material containing things like bestiality, rape, barely-legal material, incest, and pseudo-incest. Both companies have policies regarding such in place. I'm not going to argue about censorship (which I am wholly against) or these policies (which I completely disagree with). In this post, I'm just making a few observations about our culture.

Relatively recently, Amazon has gone so far as to remove adult incest titles from people's Kindles. Not just those containing underage sex, but all those containing any form of incest. (Ironically, one of their own television commercials features a book containing pseudo-incest. Go figure.) Though strangely, I haven't seen Amazon or PayPal restricting anyone's ability to purchase Game of Thrones, but maybe the incestuous sex isn't as graphic as in erotic fiction, so it's okay? I haven't read or seen it, so I can't judge.

So this morning, I did a little perusing on ye olde interwebs. I started with Amazon. Now, while I can't purchase certain types of obscene sexual material even if I wanted to, there is a wide variety of torture porn available to me with the click of a button. I can purchase Saw on DVD, on Amazon instant video, even as a boxed set with all the films together. If that's not enough, there's also the unrated widescreen edition of Hostel. In fact, if I were so inclined, I can even get my hands on a copy of The Human Centipede.

A quick browse of eBay, which is PayPal's parent company, shows a similar variety of options if I wish to buy Saw, Hostel, or The Human Centipede.

And were I to bore of torture porn, and decide I was in the mood to read about children fighting to the death for the entertainment of adults? eBay and Amazon both have plenty of ways I can get my hands on The Hunger Games. (hat tip to a poster on Absolute Write whose post got me thinking about this; for the life of me I can't find the post, though. Still looking, and when I find it, I will properly link it.) Hell, if I don't feel like reading the book, I can just wait for the film to come to the local movie theatre, since it promises to be a headlining blockbuster. Or wait for it to go to video, because then I'll be able to order it with ease and convenience on Amazon.

I'm absolutely not condoning censorship of any of the types of material I mentioned above. I'm also not saying I'm interested in buying (or writing) rape fiction, bestiality, incest/pseudo-incest, or anything like that. I just can't quite get it through my head how those things are more obscene than torture porn or kids fighting to the death for entertainment.

Think about it.


  1. I don't like to blow the whistle and to avoid it being taken down I won't, but an all-time fave m/m/m twincest book published by Torquere is still available at Amazon. Is it okay if you stick a third in there, even if twin A and twin B go at it like bunnies? Maybe?

    I suppose both companies are free to sell what they wish. It's a free world (ha!) but you can't force a shoe store to sell sweaters just because you want them to. However I'm with you, I find those examples you gave not to my taste, the whole torture porn if you will, repulses me, but I simply don't buy it.

    It's very North American to let your children watch someone die a horrific painful torturous death, but not watch two people in love (or lust) have sex. It's weird to me.

  2. I'm not talking about forcing companies to sell certain products, it's just weird to me that they'll crack down on certain kinds of sexual material, but graphic violence and torture are no big deal. (And I refuse to watch torture porn. It disgusts me.)

    As M Jules Aedin pointed out to me, there's something very backwards about a culture where a film containing bloody violence gets a PG13 rating, a graphic rape scene gets an R rating, and a consensual pleasurable act of sex gets an NC17 rating.

    No one should be forced to buy/sell anything, but this really says something strange about our culture.

  3. And then there's this book called the Bible...

  4. It's always been like that. Even on TV. They do not air porn before certain time as children may still be up and watch the telly but they are ok with showing movies like Saw or The Exorcist or stuff like that.
    I don't think it will ever change.

  5. I love, scratch that, I hate how everybody cites "the children" and what the government feels they can watch. I happen to have two children and they can't watch anything that I don't put on the tv no matter what the government says. Parent is a verb. If you let the government do your parenting then you are delusional. Or maybe just lazy. Our maybe both.

    On to the original topic. I totally agree with Lori. Giving one the axe and letting the other live is sort of crazy. I think one has to take into account that in our society gratuitous violence has always been socially acceptable. Does the name Aaron Burr ring a bell? Gratuitous sex had always been less acceptable, at least publicly.

    It's not "very North American" to let your children watch people site horrible deaths. It is down right neglectfull.