pornographers are letting us down, and I for one am disappointed in them.
Time was, it was precisely those who made coin making and distributing
images of people fornicating and copulating led us down the path of acceptance
to some of our most beloved technologies -- hand held-video cameras, VCRs, digital
cameras, even the Internet.
But now our adult-film brethren are letting vanity get the better of them.
Frightened by the heightened realism of high-definition television -- which
shows in fine-grained detail every sweat droplet, augmentation scar, or slightly
flabby posterior -- pornographers are braying that we should perhaps cling to
low-resolution television somewhat longer.
Of course, there's not much of a choice, for them or for us. One year from
this past Sunday, federal government mandate has it that every
analog television in the U.S. of A. will need to be replaced by one capable
of handling a digital signal. (The bad news: Washington hasn't done much
to educate the American public on the DT switch. But there are two pieces of
good news: (1) the change only affects you if you watch TV via antennas, and
(2) if you want to hang on to your existing TV set, Uncle
Sam will give you a coupon for nearly the full price of a digital-to-analog
The adult-film industry is concerned that Americans don't have a taste for
watching every belly jiggle and flesh ripple that naturally occurs when two
or more people have intimate relations. And yeah, HDTV is not kind to the surgically-enhanced
among us. Scars look like railroad tracks, and body parts that don't seem to
move in standard-definition really seem frozen in place at 10 times the pixels.
But can we be adult here for a minute? We've been experiencing sex in high-definition
for many a moon now – though, of course, it's most often as an active
participant, rather than an observer. People seem to like sex that way all right.
In fact, the very perpetuation of our species depends on it, so there's probably
some merit to the idea that we can handle and even prefer a non-fantasy version
of human sexual pas de deux (ou trios…)
Of course, adult entertainment might not be your cup of tea. That's cool. With
HDTV, not only can we newly appreciate the cinematic nuances of the Jenna Jameson
oeuvre, we viewers are now equipped to see a wide range of other subtleties
that in the standard-def era we could only experience in real life.
Watch Lost in high-def, and catch Kate's quick glance from Sawyer
to Jack and back to Sawyer; suddenly we more deeply appreciate what drives her
character (as well as Evangeline Lilly's acting chops.) In standard-def, that
David Tyree catch in Superbowl XLII is merely spectacular. In high-def, it's
an education in athletic prowess.
You've probably seen a
widely circulated list of which actors fare well in high-definition (Halle
Berry, Scarlett Johansson, John Travolta) and which thespians are better off
in a less pixel-intense medium. That's no doubt a tough pill to swallow for
those entertainers in the second batch. But the thing about HDTV -- and what
it separates it from so much of the entertainment universe -- is that it's not
a distortion of reality. It's actually a step closer to the real world.
And in the real world, we Americans have proven that we can handle body parts
that wiggle and flop during sexual intercourse, and that sometimes people get
old and wrinkly. We manage to still look at and even enjoy each other a great
deal without the benefit of Vaselined lenses and soft lighting. We're ready
for high-definition. We're ready for "reality television" to mean
something more than the latest episode of "The Salt-n-Pepa show."
Bring it on.