The Truth About Men, Women, Love, and Porn (In 2 minutes and 37 seconds)

So, who among us is feeling more and more like St. John the Baptist?

You know, the lone voice crying out in the wilderness? The fellow standing athwart history yelling “Stop!” The only woman at the Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros concert without a tattoo?

Okay, maybe that last one was just me last Friday. But the point stands. With the culture seemingly on the express train to Crazy Town, it’s all too easy these days to feel like the last sane person standing.

donjon3820132But then, something happens. Not a big something. Just a little something. And for one bright shining moment, the heavens part, the angels sing, and you know, know, that you’re not alone.

I just had one of those moments.

Here, I’ll share. You can have a moment too.

(Warning: Uber-brief images of scantily-dressed women. Nothing you won’t see walking through your local mall, but just so no one can gripe at me…)


See?

Admittedly, this is just a trailer. The actual film is rumored to have more than a few scenes in it that make one think writer/director Joseph Gordon Levitt may not entirely grasp the point he’s making. Still, beggars can’t be choosers: I’ll take my cultural bright spots where I can get them.

And this trailer is a bright spot. In a mere 2 minutes and 37 seconds, it manages to convey more essential truths about men, women, love, and sex than Oprah does in a year.

Like…..?

1. Pornography is a problem.

Did you see the tears in that trailer? The betrayal felt by Don Jon’s girlfriend? The hurt? That’s pornography in the real world. It’s not funny. It’s not healthy. And it’s not “no big deal.” It’s a destructive habit that leaves one’s significant other feeling like they’re not good enough, that they’ve been cheated on, and that they can never measure up. It also makes many a woman think that in order to find love, she needs to don porn-star chic every time she leaves the house to go to the grocery store. Note: Women don’t wear skin-tight mini-dresses for the comfort factor.

Even worse, pornography is a vicious habit that turns viewers into users. Not just users of “pornography.” Users of people.  On screen and off. Remember how Don Jon looked at his girlfriend’s Facebook photos? He didn’t see her as a person. Just a particularly pliable sex toy.

And no, it doesn’t matter if the people freely signed up to be used. Using people is still wrong. It’s wrong to treat living, breathing, thinking, feeling human beings as objects, as things. That holds true for using people for the sake of professional advancement, for emotional gratification, and for sexual pleasure.

2. Pornography is addictive.

That’s right, addictive. Like alcohol. Or crack. Or heroin. The chemicals released in a person’s body while watching porn function like a drug, drawing users back again and again until the porn, not them, controls their life and habits. That’s not only why porn made it on to Don Jon’s “things that really matter” list, but why, as the trailer implies, it’s actually at the top of that list.

Back when purchasing porn meant a trip to a shady store, fewer people succumbed to this addiction. But in today’s world, where you can’t do a Google search for Rainbow Brite without explicit images turning up (trust me on this one), even just dabbling with porn is playing with fire. It takes a heck of a lot of virtue to walk away and stay away when the supply is abundant and ever present, and most people just don’t have that kind of virtue. Hence why pornography addiction is soaring.

3. Pornography messes with a person’s understanding of reality.

When the culture peddles porn, it praises it as an aid to a healthy sex life. But in reality, it’s just the opposite. Men who regularly use porn report growing dissatisfaction with the bodies of their wives and girlfriends. Many, like the Don Jon character, start to prefer pornography to real life intimacy. They’d rather be alone with their porn than deal with the messy complications of loving a real, live person.

That preference is not only evident in growing reports of lack-luster sex within relationships, but also climbing divorce rates and plummeting marriage rates. Remember the mother’s cry when her son tells her he doesn’t know if he wants a wife and kids? “I look like a grandmother, but do I have any grandchildren?”

There are a heck of a lot of moms saying the exact same thing today.

 4. Romantic comedies mess with minds too.

In the trailer (and movie) Don Jon isn’t the only one with a problem. His girlfriend has one too. Only hers doesn’t carry an “X” rating. Today, half the loosey-goosey, bolt from the blue, “I have to marry my soul mate so I can find my life’s purpose” love notions that people have are spoon fed to them by sappy romantic comedies. No, they’re not addictive and destructive in the same way porn is, but they’re not contributing to a culture of marriage either.

In real life, love doesn’t happen in an instant, men don’t talk like Edward Cullen, and happy relationships take more work and compromise than any 90-minute chick flick can possibly convey. The more we let our expectations for love and marriage be shaped by those flicks, the greater the chance we’ll miss out on love when it does present itself. Reason being? Real love doesn’t look like movie love.

Cue The Avett Brothers.

 

5. Loving another person is a high risk, high reward endeavor.

Casual sex and casual dating have their perks: namely, quick emotional and physical highs. They bring instant fun and instant affirmation. They’re also empty, meaningless, and leave you facing cancer, heart disease, or old age all by your lonesome.

Loving someone, on the other hand, is hard. It means letting someone see all of you, not just the pretty, pleasant parts, but scars and warts too. It means growing and stretching and compromising so that your life can move in harmony with another’s. It means opening yourself up to unimaginable pain and loss, knowing that illness or accident or rejection could take the one you love from you at any second of any day.

But that’s where the real fun is. That’s where the joy and freedom and adventure that come across in the last few seconds of the trailer begins. You find life when you make a gift of your life. You live when you live for another. “It is not good that man should be alone.”

***

So, will Don Jon find happiness? Will he choose love over lust? Will the film even be watchable? Who knows? I suppose, almost none of us will until Don Jon hits theaters on October 18.

But the trailer, at the very least, suggests that one bright young Hollywood actor isn’t completely buying into the cultural script on love and sex. It may not be much, but again, I’ll take what I can get.

In the wilderness, company is company.

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Categories:Culture Marriage Media

39 thoughts on “The Truth About Men, Women, Love, and Porn (In 2 minutes and 37 seconds)

  1. Mike says:

    I agree with this article; I just wanted to point out that it is not just men who struggle with porn anymore.

  2. William Congdon says:

    Telling that JGL tells SJ, “You’re the most beautiful THING I’ve ever seen” (my caps). This is a great example of how pornography makes men think of women as objects, in small ways as well as large ones.

  3. Katie TLC says:

    P.S. I am very blessed to be married to a guy who is not into porn. I just felt the need to clarify that, given my enthusiasm in my earlier comment. I am blessed. I am just so very, very sorry our children grow up with this issue absolutely everywhere.

  4. Katie TLC says:

    Fantastic!!! Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. Yeah! What she said.

  5. Danny says:

    Porn does irreversible DAMAGE!

  6. John Mallon says:

    Pornography is tragic when it enters a marriage (or any life). But If I could teach women anything about this subject it would be to resist the thought that “they don’t measure up” and should try to “compete” with the porn.

    Porn has little to do with sex and very little to with lust but almost everything to do with anxiety.

    I have started writing a book explaining the porn problem to wives. Very few get it, understandably. Why would they?

    The least I can advise women it NOT to beat themselves up over their husband’s problem. For some odd reason women in our culture are raised to be perfectionists, and think everything that happens is their fault.

    If your husband has a porn problem it is HIS problem, first and foremost. You can’t fix him and you can’t, and shouldn’t try, to compete with it. It is the woman’s problem insofar as it interferes with her marriage, and draws her husband away from her into a dark land of shadows and fantasy. Fault and blame, as usual, are a waste of time, be that a women blaming herself, her husband, or her husband blaming her or himself.

    In a nutshell, my brief prescription for this problem, if the husband WANTS help, is:

    1. Weekly confession, with a good priest who understands addiction and doesn’t dish out more guilt than he relieves.

    2. Frequent, if not daily Eucharist if possible.

    3. The Sacrament of the sick monthly, wherever possible. Most priests are willing to do this if they know it is part of a program to overcome habitual sin.

    Do not make the sin the focus of the program. Make new Life in Christ the focus on the program. The problem will leave a dangerous void if something doesn’t take it’s place. In fact, it is the sin which has taken the place in the heart that only God can fill. Let God in the sin will be pushed out, not by human effort but by Divine Grace.

    This program is recommended for BOTH spouses. I stand by what I said about women not blaming themselves for this problem, but at the same time an ongoing examination of conscience is very helpful for the woman as well. As I said, this sin is not about sex, but anxiety. An examination of conscience for the wife may involve such questions, as: Do I engage in any behaviors that may add to his anxiety? Do I shame and blame him for his problem? Do I nag? Do I perhaps unconsciously adopt an attitude of moral superiority in the home, reinforcing his shame and guilt, which produce more anxiety reinforcing the cycle of him turning to this sin for “comfort” instead of the appropriate person he should turn to? Namely his wife? And God?

    All too often the scenario when there is a porn problem in the home, the woman is seen as all good: The long-suffering victim with the husband with the wretched, evil, habit, shamed and blamed.

    A few sentences in a comment box are obviously not sufficient. If the husband is an abuser, an alcoholic, drug user, then the problem is much larger than porn, and in the case of the abuser, where the husband is dangerous to his wife and children professional help and maybe even legal help are indicated.

    Forget about torturing yourself with thoughts of failure and get your children and yourself to safety.

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