A week or so ago, Mark, JeffK and I ended up talking about “porn.” Not necessarily the topic of pornography, but the term “porn” itself. I had mentioned that CNN was “news porn.” Mark and JeffK had never heard of porn in that context, and I had to explain that in the context of “porn” is an excessive repetative content on a single topic. Hence, CNN is news porn, FoodTV is food porn, Cartoon Network is 'toon porn.
I first encounted that usage of “porn” in Synners, by Pat Cardigan (way back in the early 90s) and I found the concept both intriguing and quite on target. And while such usage of “porn” is still somewhat rare, it's not uncommon:
1990s moviegoers who have sat clutching their heads in both awe and disappointment at movies like “Twister” and “Volcano” and “The Lost World” can thank James Cameron's “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” for inaugurating what's become this decade's special new genre of big-budget film: Special Effects Porn. “Porn” because, if you substitute F/X for intercourse, the parallels between the two genres become so obvious they're eerie. Just like hard-core cheapies, movies like “Terminator 2” and “Jurassic Park” aren't really “movies” in the standard sense at all. What they really are is half a dozen or so isolated, spectacular scenes—scenes comprising maybe twenty or thirty minutes of riveting, sensuous payoff—strung together via another sixty to ninety minutes of flat, dead, and often hilariously insipid narrative.
Which makes a good a generic definition of “porn” as anything. And puts CNN into a whole new light …