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. [...] in trust. To enter holy matrimony requires loyalty, perseverance, and fidelity. As one writer put it, “Loving another person is a high risk, high reward [...]

  2. Emily says:

    One of the most poignant parts of the trailer no one else has pointed out- his compliment to ScarJo’s character.

    “You are the most beautiful THING I’ve ever seen.”

    Maybe it was as obvious to me as everyone else, but the subtext there is biting, and certainly gives me some hope.

  3. RM says:

    The dangers of unrealistic romantic expectations doesn’t come only from porn as the author points out. See Madame Bovary for full treatment of the problem of “romantic fiction.”

  4. [...] 2 —   Spotlight On: This week’s spotlight is on Emily Stimpson for her post about Pornography and what it does to relationships.  I really feel for those afflicted by this addition.  Notice I [...]

  5. Mary Linda says:

    I suggest everyone read the new book by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC. It is called “Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest.” He says that the beauty and life-changing femininity of the Virgin Mary is the way out of porn addiction, and I’m quite certain he is right.

  6. H says:

    I see lots of Catholics these days writing about the problem of porn. I think this is great, because I know, from personal experience, that it’s a problem. My own dear husband has struggled with it. But I feel like everyone talks about it in the 3rd person. I want to hear more personal experiences with the struggle more about how families have dealt with and attempted to overcome the problem. It’s a very lonely road to walk when it seems like you’re all alone.

    1. Sel says:

      You might be able to find some personal experiences stories on this website http://www.theporneffect.com/

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