This landmark series charts the changes in sexual imagery prompted by the advent of new technologies over thousands of years: from ancient times to print, photography, film, video and the Internet. With unprecedented access to the modern porn industry, interviews with pornography experts and historians and an unparalleled collection of archival material, it is also the story of how these technological mediums influenced the development of pornography, who used it, how it was distributed and how it was censored.
01 The Road To Ruin
This programme opens with the science of archaeology. Sexual imagery has been at the heart of culture all over the world, from the Cerne Abbas man to the painted walls of Pompeii, from the carvings of Bourges Cathedral to the obscene pamphlets of the French Revolution.
02 The Sacred & Profane
It shows how printing was seen as something that turned hitherto acceptable sexual explicit expression into something far more dangerous. Indeed pornography was instrumental in fermenting the French Revolution, with shockingly explicit sexual satire directed at the monarchy.
Photography was the greatest leap forward ever in the history of pornography. In the nineteenth century, to ask where pornographic photographs were sold is like asking where you can buy drugs today.
03 The Mechanical Eye
This episode examines the appeal of photographs, their development and their consumers, as well as the evolution of the porn magazine. This film also covers the birth of the mail order porn dealer; heralding arguments which have parallels today with debates on internet pornography.
04 Twentieth Century Foxy
This programme covers the rise of the porn film industry. But porn on film, and the porn cinema was an interstitial time. At the end of the 70s the new vehicle for porn was video.
05 Sex, Lives & Videotape
It shows how the advent of video ended pornography’s crossover dreams. Video re-made pornography in its own image, replacing the glamour and fantasy of the movies with a real documentary style.
The most significant contribution of video was that it turned consumers into producers; the audience picked up cameras and started recording their sex lives on videotape!
This episode looks at the new era of digital manipulation and asks how digital technology has affected the pornography that we produce, and the way we consume it. We talk to people who say that the Internet has dealt the biggest blow yet to the establishment.
Pornography in physical forms – books, magazines, and videos – could always be seized and destroyed, but on the Net, pornography has shed its physical form and gone digital.