Channeling Us to Porn

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“What on earth is wrong with having a porn channel?”So quizzes City Press columnist, Farrah Franscis, in the wake of a proposed move by Multichoice to look at the feasibility of having a 24 hour pornography channel on its Dstv bouquet. From the moment the story was reported on, opinions sections of newspapers and social networking site were avalanched with various perspectives on this ‘sensitive’ subject. After all, pornography ‘speaks’ to the core of our primal instincts and invokes urges that are indomitable once they reach boiling point.

Many of the people opposed to the proposed move by Multichoice have raised the expected but necessary moral question, and ask what ramifications the channel will have on an already morally insolvent society like our own? Some of the people have asked what’s to happen to their children with the advent of such a channel because as it is there’s already more than enough sexified content on television. The casual link between the continuous consumption of pornographic content and the impact that will have on a country that is besieged by countless stories of females being raped was raised along with the one of paedophilia. The said argument can’t be dismissed without consideration. Exposure to anything, in this case porn, at a repetitive rate does influence the decision making processes, or lack of it, of the subject because at some point the subject wants to put what they have been watching to practice, at whose expense should such to exercises be undertaken? Fred Khumalo of the Sunday Times writes the following about the effects of a young man who was exposed to porn at an early age, “At age six, he started watching hard core porn with his mother. By age 13, he had lost his equilibrium entirely. His performance at school plummeted; his social life at home was disastrous as he transferred his hard core porn experiences to real life people at home and in the neighbourhood. The incandescent flashes of porn images had taken charge of his every waking moment.” These are the ravages of what might occur if the channel is given the green light by the relevant authorities. But it must also be mentioned that the case in Khumalo’s story is one of gross negligence by the parent. What parent in their right mind would watch porn with under aged child, in fact, child period?!

It would be naive of us to think that it’s only children who are susceptible to influences of borne out of frequent pornography exposure. The American gospel star, Kirk Franklin admitted to having a particular addiction to porn, just to name one. Another argument emanating from the anti porn ‘arsenal’ is that pornography is, to some extent, an act of masculine and bravado vindication, and that it hammers home the stereotype that depicts females as sexually obtainable objects.

The other side of the debate painstakingly makes mention that South Africa is a secular and constitutional democracy. And as such the right to produce or participate in pornographic films is guaranteed in Section 16: Freedom of Expression (1) (c) of the Bill of Rights which guarantees the freedom of artistic creativity as long as it doesn’t incite war or advocate hatred of others based on race, sex or ethnicity amongst others. Multichoice is a luxury by virtue of its consumption requiring monthly payments and as such its rules of engagement are slightly different from those of the public broadcaster. By that very nature it has carte blanche( no pun intended) that the public broadcaster may not necessarily enjoy. Subscribers of Multichoice have exactly that, a choice, as to whether or not they would watch the contentious proposed channel. They have so much more channels to keep them entertained and should let those who would derive satisfaction from watching the adult channel to do so with ease. What I’m driving at here is that should Multichoice go ahead and add the channel, the moral argument wouldn’t hold much sway. Multichoice would have to give assurance to ICASA and other ‘watch dogs’ that it would put all necessary mechanical and technical measures in place to enable the adult to ‘block’ minors from accessing it.

The advocates of the porn channel have accused the ‘moralists’ of double standards. They have asked why porn was so vehemently opposed but channels that air heavily violent content aren’t barred from television screens of both public and private media? In fact, in many cases it’s not uncommon to have an entire family conferenced together watching Scarface, Die Hard, The Departed, Shooters, Amitty Ville Horror and many other violent flicks. Don’t violent films carnivore away at the already depleted moral fibre and if it does, why is it tolerated? I may be accused of being a conspiracy theorist but I think maybe that’s the way it’s designed to be. Think about it, until recently many South Africans, particularly Africans/blacks, relied solely on the SABC for television content because many of them could afford private media. And many of the viewers of the SABC are working class folk living in the townships, where violent crimes are frequent and we can’t divorce their origins from the crime perpetuated in television. Nobody cares much because it’s happing where it’s supposed to happen and not in a middle-classed home where the variety is easily acquired from premium Multichoice bouquets. Now that there’s chance that a porn channel may be launched, probably on the premium bouquet- a business move, all of a sudden there’s a moral ‘onslaught’.

We must remember that as consumers of any kind of media, we have a choice as to whether or not we want to subscribe our attention to what ever it is that may be promulgated. If we are not satisfied with the product being sold to us, then, we ought to complain, and if our complaints are not attended to, we should unsubscribe. In other words, we should switch off our television screens and find other things to preoccupy ourselves with. There’s no obligation on us to have televisions in our homes. So, the victimhood card must be done away with.

Un/fortunately in a world where crass consumerism is at its acme, it means that broadcasting corporations will employ any viewership luring tactic even if such means leave the said viewers as tacit approvers in a game where shareholders’ dividends are sustained by advertisers’ healthy cheque books in return for the attention of the viewer’s concupiscent consumerist tendencies! Such debates continue to test the resolve and elasticity of our constitutional order and ought to be encouraged. We must also be mindful and not be easily ‘induced’ by the dictates of markets forces. Wynton Marsalis says: “The money lenders of the market place have never ever known the difference between an office or an auction block. They have never ever known the difference between a place where bodies were sold and a place where souls were saved.”

NOTE : At the writing of the article MULTICHOICE hadn’t made a decision of shelving the idea of channeiling porn. They have recently caved into the moralists pressure.lol

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Khaya Sibeko

Football.Bookworm.Cinematic Music. "The greatest contribution from Africans will be to give the world a more human face" Bantu S. Biko,

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