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Ten Ways Your Life Might Change Without Internet Porn

A harrowing vision of David Cameron's porn-free Britain.
July 24, 2013, 1:45pm

Tear off your genitals, smash up your wanking headphones, because porn as we know it is over. The government is looking to usher in a new dawn of erotic prohibition, one designed to liberate Britain's self-abusing internetters from the manacles of their own lust (or at least distract them from more pressing concerns, such as their lack of money, employment, healthcare, hope, or reason not to sit at home masturbating all day).

The most extreme measure laid out in the speech David Cameron gave on Monday morning is that, by the end of 2014, anyone who wishes to watch porn of any kind on the internet will have to "opt in" to do so. You'll have to call up some giggling Bluetooth dickhead in an office on an industrial estate in Croydon and inform him that yes, you would like to look at videos of strangers having sex, and you're totally OK with him knowing that. There will be thousands of people working in these offices. They will take millions of calls. It will act as a kind of wanker's census, a Domesday Book for a generation who've grown used to the idea of taking their computers to bed with them, for whom Sasha Grey's orgasmic cries have replaced the shipping forecast as the adult lullaby of choice.

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Apparently, some ISPs will even be offering a service that sends an emergency text to parents when their kids – or houseguests, lodgers, babysitters, neighbours, burglars, whoever – try to get round the security. Which, while a bit draconian, does at least clear the way for this kind of thing to belly-flop into people's inboxes during a romantic evening meal at the local Carluccio's:

The government's actions have their supporters. The Daily Mail has been very vocal in leading the campaign to BLOCK INTERNET PORN, flanked by numerous women's rights groups and other anti-porn organisations. There's always the Church, of course. And no one's mum or nan likes porn. But while all of these groups will have spent the last 24 hours celebrating (presumably with a few flutes of Waitrose strawberry lemonade and some wholesome, non-violent lovemaking), what's it really going to mean if online smut gets the chop?

We decided to do what the government wants us to and use our imaginations for once. Here are ten possible ramifications of David Cameron's war on internet porn. Some are more likely than others, but let's begin with one that seems sadly inevitable.

THE AWKWARD CONVERSATION
We all know that merely watching a sex scene in a bank holiday Bond film with your relatives is awkward enough. So imagine the awkwardness of father and teenage son bashfully teaming up to request porn access from the family matriarch. Maybe one day it'll just be another part of the "birds and the bees" chat, but currently not even in gender-neutral Stoke Newington "family spaces" is this not going to be weird.

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Imagine BBC-producer dads having to explain to their kids that their staunchly liberal views on the freedom of expression don't extend to the films of Max Hardcore. Imagine Gumtree houseshare ads having to declare that "this is a porn opting in flat" next to the bits about smoking and dogs. Imagine having a chat with the shy Dutch IT lodger you've just met about whether or not you're going to pool your financial resources to invest in visual masturbatory aids.

This won't demonise pornography, it'll just make it an annoying social inconvenience that a decent wedge of the population will have to go through yet still remains taboo in formal conversation, like declaring a teenage shoplifting charge in a job application.

"OPTING IN" BECOMES A POLITICAL STATEMENT
What the government haven't considered here is that they are deeply unpopular. Especially with young, smart people who know how to organise online campaigns and fuck with them. So what I think you're going to get is a whole generation of people "opting in" as an expression of free speech, rather than because they love watching the souls of sad-eyed Russian women evaporate. No doubt there are things going on within the industry that utterly muddle the moral compass needle of the liberal commentariat, but I think just as a reaction against a strict government measure, "opting in" could become a passive protest vote.

THE PRINTED PORN INDUSTRY IS SPURRED BACK INTO ACTION
If you were to put your Guy Fawkes thinking mask on for a minute, you could dream up more outlandish theories than the idea that perhaps what Cameron is trying to get rid of here is deregulated, untaxed porn; the kind that influential media moguls are currently too wary of to gamble their money or reputations on. Because with people now too embarrassed to tell their loved ones they're into porn, they might have to turn to the friendly, nonjudgemental man at the cornershop for their softcore onanism material.

Razzle isn't going to become the jewel in the British media's crown, Readers Wives isn't the Arena Homme + of tomorrow. People probably aren't going to start buying lads' mags again. But the possibility of millionaire publishers tapping into a burgeoning market for something that falls between those two poles feels far less remote.

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MAIL ONLINE GETS EVEN BIGGER
The thing here, though, is that the most-viewed titillation flesh in Britain isn't classed as porn at all. It's classed as showbiz, or "female interest". There's no sex, but there is a lot of cleavage. There's no deep-throating, but there is a lot of cellulite. It's the world of celebrity pseudo-porn, and Mail Online's "sidebar of shame" is its Hustler/Bible.

People look at Mail Online at work, and porn at home. Now that they won't be able to look at porn, there will only be Mail Online. Paul Dacre will become the most powerful man in the world, rather than the fifth or whatever he currently is, and Liz Jones will become his Goebbels. In no time, you'll be thanking god that Zuckerberg was such a geek, because they'll be buying countries and parading warheads through Brussels if they get any bigger.

PORN GOES UNDERGROUND
During the prohibition in America, it's well known that people turned to making disgusting booze in their bathtubs to sate their need for mental oblivion. Running parallel to this newfound thirst for awful, awful moonshine was the less predictable trend that people seemed to fucking love it; one study finding that moonshine helped alcohol consumption continue at 60-70 percent of its pre-prohibition level in an ostensibly boozeless America.

Obviously tons of people already make amateur porn, but maybe it'll become something more widespread, de rigueur, even, middle class couples passing around tapes of themselves sweatily grunting away like lines of gak at Islington dinner parties. It's easier to make, edit and share than ever before, so there's every chance that a new world of underground porn could open up beneath the government's feet. Of course it could also mean that anyone currently making really unsavoury stuff will see demand increase as they're driven further underground. Which, really, would suck for just about everyone who isn't a piece of shit.

TEENAGE BOYS GET ANGRIER
When they find their outlet denied to them, porn's biggest consumers aren't going to be happy. Like vinyl geeks broken by the death of Technics turntables, they'll live their lives as sticks in the mud of our culture. Moaning on message boards and starting hopeless petitions for porn's return. Or they could be driven into a violent underworld in search of their animal fix, the RedTube Warriors clashing with the YouPorn Youth Crew on the basement levels of abandoned multi-storey carparks.

Perhaps we should, as a civilised society, be confining these urges to the teenage bedroom, rather than allowing them to manifest in assault charges and tedious Twitter hashtags.

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TEENAGE BOYS GET MORE SENSITIVE
But then again, it could be just what they need. Maybe they'll start to understand that sex is not something that is given to you on a plate, and that girls don't necessarily like it when you grab their hair and call them a "cunt" when you're "doing it". Maybe they'll learn that not all penises look like Lexington Steele's, and that not all girls' nipples look like their dad's Volvo's tax discs.

They might just learn to use their imaginations again, becoming more romantic and erotic. Instead of writing: "i wanna cum in dis bitch mouth" in Spankwire's godforsaken comments section, they might sit down and come up with the next Delta of Venus. It might just be the thing that saves British literature, producing a generation of artfully perverse young men who find more solace in James Joyce's coprophilous love letters than Trinidad Jame$' punitive pussykilla anthems.

MUSIC VIDEO PORN BECOMES MORE OF A "THING"
No other art form tries to pass itself off as art when it is in fact soft porn as much as the music video. From "Justify My Love", to "Blurred Lines", to every single Eurohouse number 1 ever, to that Skepta video which actually was porn, it's a great way to sell a song (especially if that song happens to be shitty). The people behind these videos will no doubt see the glaring gap in the market between YouTube and PornTube, and seek to get around the online "opt in" measure by claiming that their Mumford & Sons bukkake video somehow harbours some artistic merit. (Perhaps.)

THE RETURN OF CHEEKY SOFTCORE MOVIES
Perhaps to truly understand a world without internet pornography, we have to gaze back upon a time where there was none. The days before even VHS porn existed. The 1970s. A time in which sex was something that Europeans did, and over here it was a procedure only undergone by mistake, at Christmas or in a heatwave when people were dizzy and confused.

Back in these grey days for the British libido, erotic stimulation came via the softcore sex film, i.e. a porno that pretended to be a comedy. The hero of the piece was invariably a cheeky tradesman who terrorises suburbia with a cucumber and a disregard for domestic trespass laws. He wasn't quite handsome, there were some boobs and occasionally someone would fall off a ladder. They're pretty dreadful, but then again, it was a pretty dreadful time to be British.

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Of course, they bear about as much relation to real sex as any San Fernando Valley fuckfest does, but they weren't technically porn. Which will come in handy for their validity in porn-free Britain. Expect them to come back in a big way – step up Danny Dyer, now is your time to lead our sexual revolution.

EVERYONE WILL JUST FIGURE OUT HOW TO USE TOR
Yeah, it's gonna be this, isn't it?

Follow Clive on Twitter: @thugclive

Photos by Jamie Lee Curtis Taete: @JLCT

More on David Cameron's porn purge pledge:

David Cameron's War On Internet Porn Lacks a Smoking Gun

The Internet Will Beat Cameron's Porn Ban