You see them on people walking down the street. On joggers. On subway riders. On shoppers at the mall. Men and women, old and young—no one is immune. They’re Apple iPods, and like many other electronic gadgets, they seem to have taken over the world.
Considering its ability to put thousands of digital-quality songs in the palm of your hand, it’s easy to see why the iPod has become ubiquitous. Unfortunately, the video-playing version of the iPod has become a platform for something else that’s far too prevalent: pornography. And not just photos (although that would be bad enough), but actual movies.
Steven Hirsch, CEO of the porn-producing Vivid Entertainment Group, is immensely pleased. “It could be a huge percentage of our business,” he told reporters. “People love watching adult movies and to be able to carry an adult movie in your pocket is a powerful tool.” A tool cyber-pimps like Hirsch are only too happy to use.
And so, just in time for Christmas, iPod users have the ability to download movies that years ago could be watched only by those willing to patronize some broken-down theater in the seediest part of town. 21st century technology meets the world’s oldest profession—and a society already awash in sexual imagery becomes a little darker and cruder.
The tide of sexual titillation, in movies and on TV, is impossible for anyone to miss. Earlier this year, it cropped up in a video game called “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.” As if the game weren’t bad enough—the main goal, after all, is to steal cars and shoot people—it also contained sexually explicit scenes accessible with a patch readily available on the Internet.
In the wake of the controversy it caused, the game was recalled. But few game manufacturers are contrite: Another video game staple, violence, is served up in garish overdrive this holiday season with titles that feature cannibalism, such as “F.E.A.R.” and “Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse.”
Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., recently teamed up to sponsor legislation that, Sen. Clinton says, “will empower parents by making sure their kids can’t walk into a store and buy a video game that has graphic, violent and pornographic content.”
If only it were so easy to protect children and families from the damage caused by the many other manifestations of pornography in our culture. Jill Manning, who served as a visiting social science fellow at The Heritage Foundation last summer, outlines the social cost in devastating detail in a paper she recently presented to a special U.S. Senate subcommittee. Her review of the peer-reviewed research on pornography’s impact shows why this scourge affects everyone—but children especially.
One study covers the risks associated with “frequent exposure to erotica,” which Manning lists “because of the potential they have for shaping sexual development as well as future marital and familial relationships”:
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