Pornography: The Secret History of Civilisation

Pornography: The Secret History of Civilisation

1999, Sexuality  -    -  Playlist 26 Comments
Ratings: 6.51/10 from 47 users.

Pornography: The Secret History of CivilisationAfter taking in the fast-paced anthropology lesson of this engaging six-part series produced for British television in 1999, it would seem that for most of civilization, pornography hasn't been such a secret after all.

The six lively episodes take playful account of that which is on more people's minds than will easily admit, and which has been an important, if often vilified part of world culture since humans could think about such things. This documentary is a stylish and tidy chronological account of erotic imagery that the episodes categorize from earliest recorded history to the latest (as of the end of the 20th century) prospects afforded by the Internet and virtual technology.

An array of interview subjects from scholars to porn stars talk about everything from the graphic images discovered amongst the ruins of Pompeii and the one-of-a-kind erotica traded among high-class Europeans, to what it's like for individuals to make and distribute their own adult encounters through the facility of their own bedroom camcorders.

Before it was demonized and censored when the printing press brought porn to the masses, it seems erotic drawings were a lot of jolly good fun that was not at all stigmatized. (One of the most amusing sequences is an interview with a prestigious, septuagenarian and erotic art historian who is interviewed about his specialty while reclining nude under the gaze of a woman sketching his portrait.)

Once the church became involved, deeming the depictions of man, woman, and beast doing what came naturally as obscene--a relatively modern classification - it moved into the shadows of sociological study. The episodes on photography, including still and moving pictures and the impact modern technology had in creating a porn industry are interesting, but not entirely enlightening for most people who have even a passing knowledge of the development of erotica from French postcards to adult home video.

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Rocky Racoon
10 years ago

Jimmy Swagart and his Protestant Capitalists are still on the air and raking it in. America doesn't like Rome's power. Some of those priests were actually Marxist you know-in fact some of them were murdered in South America standing up for the domestic population and participating in revolution. We sent in death squads. It all needs to go as far as I am concerned we need to revolutionize all of our social relations.

11 years ago

Very good, but i wanted to hear the french part, it should have been subtitles. I also think they should have payed some attention to kama sutra and japaneese ukiyou-e.

zaroon zafar
12 years ago

m a muslim n my religion tells me that there is like bad sexual approach n 4 which there is punishment in hell n a gud sexual approach 4 which u get reward in heaven .... the bad includes these pornography,rape,adultery,anal sex etc n the gud one includes marriage or marriages n havin sex with ones spouse .... i think there is satanic elements involved in human sexuality thats y we get punishment 4 following them...

12 years ago

what the f is up with all the french parts

12 years ago

I'm happy to hear that it dragged. That's progress.

12 years ago

ok well i really liked the episodes on ancient porn....but the last few episodes dragged on a lot. found it ironic that something could make porn feel boring lol

12 years ago

@ eos

The Catholic church has a centuries old tradition of confessing of sins to a priest. A person could do so knowing that they had complete anonymity and the priest was obliged to respect the confidentiality of the confessing church member. Those rogue priests took advantage of this church law. Modern thinking has come to understand that pedophilia is more than a sin. It is a compulsion that the pedophile cannot resist. This is something that the church has to realize. The pedophile will abuse again and should never be allowed to take advantage of church law to allow him access to victims and a haven when he is caught.
I am not Catholic. As a matter of fact, I'm an atheist. Every organization has its corrupt members be it government, business, social group or school. It is unfair to point at an individual priest and call him a pedophile just because he is a priest. When clergy sex abuse was brought to light many priests were as shocked as the rest of us. Prosecute the guilty party and force the church leaders to quit protecting their own reputations. Pedophiles and those who protect them should face a court of law. Guilt by association is not guilt; its persecution.

12 years ago

There is a troublesome omission of three chapters of this documentary. From EP 2, 1/4; it jumps to EP 3, 2/4. Judging by the general high quality of the other (many) documentaries that I've viewed here, I would bet that this is an accidental transposition of the person or persons charged with uploading the videos. I do hope that it is corrected very soon because it is, in my opinion, a very important doc on a vital topic.

12 years ago

I find it so amusing that the church, which to this day still believes they have a right to rape small boys, deemed porn obscene. Its like Bob Marley or Charlie Sheen doing a "Say no to drugs" commercial.

12 years ago

A little bit misleading here. Equating modern day pornography to those ancient forms is a stretch. No there is nothing morally wrong with the naked human body or even human sexual activity. There is something wrong with taking teenage girls with daddy issues, hooking them on drugs, promising them they will be a big movie star, and exploiting them sexually for profit until they fall apart. So many people will come to the defense of modern porn industry citing facts like these and the "free to do with your own body" argument but few of those advocates would ever wish to see their own loved ones involved. Paint on a roman wall is different than a teen under a donkey people.

12 years ago

Fresh for 1999.

12 years ago

this was sort of a revelatory viewing for me. always nice to see "underground" culture in its varying forms. especially in a revolutionary context

12 years ago

this should be shown to all the kids at some point...everyone would benefit

12 years ago

I never knew this stuff! All this madness about porn because of some uptight victorian scumbags? Outrageous!

Good documentary, anyone who has an opinion about porn be it on the internet or TV should watch it. It's a lost chapter from our history books.