Purantyranical: Is Herd Morality Really Doing Us Any Good?

    In lieu of widespread censorship bans, providers of adult content like Lela Star are cleaning up.

    “John, the kind of control you’re attempting simply is… it’s not possible. If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers. Painfully, maybe even dangerously… I’m simply saying that life, uh… finds a way.”

    Perhaps one of the most iconic lines from 90’s cinema, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) from the original Jurassic Park, desperately tries to explain that it’s impossible to be able to control forces of nature and large-scale desires. Sure, he was talking about the genetic drive to breed, reproduce, and proliferate species- but it’s shockingly correlatable to less primitive drives as well.

    The polar communities of what is appropriate and what isn’t, what offends and what doesn’t, what should be allowed and what shouldn’t is causing more neck strain than the center court seats at Wimbledon. We find ourselves amidst a censorship panic. From Tumblr’s new bans, to the joke’s comic tell, to the difference between art and pornography, knowing where to draw these lines, and how best to do it, is causing quite an uproar in our communities. It’s also become big business for some. Lela Star, a rising porn actress and erotic model, is no stranger to the hassles censorship can cause- nor to the revenue it can create.

    The Monetization of Censorship

    Following multiple shut downs and suspensions on several of her social media platforms (including twitter and Instagram), Lela Star spends most of her time finding innovative ways to sell her product: sex.

    Sometimes, the blunt instrument of social media censorship works in her favor. “Last post got deleted?! No idea why. But you never know when IG will delete my page again” she writes on one of her many scantily clad Instagram photos. The nebulous regulations of what sites like Instagram and Twitter will allow, give many adult content purveyors the ability to funnel business into paid subscription sites. If fans are unable to see “all the goodies” on free sites, then they are bound to start paying for memberships to allow access for more explicit content.

    The hype surrounding censorship attempts and outrage translates into big business. Advertising campaigns and celebrities have both discovered that media scandals can actually prove to be a good thing. More readily getting your name out to a society that is geared to be polarized makes it a brilliant marketing niche for many products, as consumers seem ever ready to be proudly on one side of the argument.

    The Nike advertisement featuring Colin Kaepernick embodies this technique. While media coverage showcased venomous backlash and the boycott, Nike sales saw a surge and increased by 31%.  Leaving us with the question of just how much good does public ostrification do?

    The Allure of the Taboo

    If there’s one thing that history has certainly taught us, it’s that people love a rebel. Pushing boundaries is almost a national pastime. The ever present see-saw between generations and their personal beliefs regarding what’s deemed appropriate seems to be swinging at an ever-increasing rate. As one taboo becomes a norm, the next one is already on the chopping block.

    This has afforded us great leaps for many minority groups over the years. Women can now vote, there is no longer a bathroom designated by skin color, homosexuality is largely acceptable… with every advancement, however, there comes a hinderance.

    Racial tensions seem to be at an all-time high, the polarization of religious observance has become dangerous, and burgeoning tolerance for sexualities has given rise to concern over the next stage of acceptance. The understandable condemnation of certain content (like child pornogrphy, rape footage, or other abusive platforms) unfortunately leads to the exclusion of more innocent submissions.

    The Good It’s Done

    One of the biggest problems with contemporary censorship is how it’s being performed. Take Tumblr’s newest ban on adult content for example. Following well founded concerns over child pornography, Tumblr was removed from the Apple App Store. In an over exaggerated attempt to keep the app widely available and Apple friendly, Tumblr execs decided that an all-out ban on adult content was merited. But painting their entire community with such a wide brush was alienating to many of their users.

    The ban effectively shut down a huge number of bloggers, many of which had absolutely nothing to do with child pornography- but instead focused more on art or fan fiction. This overreaction to censorship makes users feel as though the site doesn’t care about them or their individual content. Which has proved to be a death sentence for other social networking sites in the past.

    In an interview with The Verge, Elizabeth Minkel, co-host of the Fansplaining podcast, discusses contemporary shortcomings of censorship bans “The problem, as she sees it, is that it’s impossible to implement nuanced content moderation at scale” The Verge reports.  “AI is simply not yet capable of distinguishing between erotic fan art and porn.” Minkel adds “I don’t think anyone’s doing it successfully. Lots and lots of stuff is getting flagged erroneously. I understand why they’re doing this. Is the bluntness of it good? Possibly not.” She muses.

    Until censorship is fine-tuned and its motives are exacted, there will always be collateral damage from the blunt force approach of broad containment. However, much like life will find a way, providers like Lela Star will also find a way; to not only skirt it, but also profit from it.