Nothing Gold Can Stay
April 7, 2016 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Rule 34 May Be Moribund. The Washington Post investigates the origins, history, and doubtful future of Rule 34.
posted by Diablevert (59 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite


 
But Delaney’s white whale remains Rule 34; he does not think there is any porn about the law itself.

Oh for Pete's sake, that was the first thing people thought of (obviously NSFW).
posted by J.K. Seazer at 8:26 AM on April 7, 2016 [17 favorites]


Alien goat sex may still exist somewhere in the Internet’s unplumbable depths, but it is far deeper down than it used to be.

I see what was done there.
posted by chavenet at 8:28 AM on April 7, 2016 [7 favorites]


"There’s a large crowd and you can act out in front of it without paying any personal price to your reputation,” which "creates conditions most likely to draw out the typical Internet user’s political candidate's worst impulses."

I can't wait to see the Donald Porn, the Hilary Porn, the Bernie Porn, no, wait. I can wait. All hail rule 34 and the FW theory.
posted by Oyéah at 8:29 AM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm looking forward to the slashfic of this article.
posted by Gelatin at 8:31 AM on April 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oyéah, I'm not going to look for it, but I'd bet money you don't have to wait to see those things.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:31 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


*finishes wiping off with latest edition of WP*

That was a great article.
posted by Kabanos at 8:34 AM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I haven't gone on any Heart of Darkness searches recently, but there is still some very, very weird shit happening and I am sure I would not have to go terribly far afield to find it.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:36 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, this is a perfect time to tell the story of The Monstrous Libido of Calvin and Hobbes, a play I (as Calvin) constructed along with the performers of Hobbes and Susie in two hours one Saturday morning, and then performed to a packed house that very day, at the University of Chicago. The way it worked was that the director told us to bring a bunch of materials, and then gave us rules for constructing the scenes based on those materials. For the sex scene (yeah), we had to bring passages from erotic fan-fiction, and it was decided that for the whole scene we would only speak the line "Chewie began pumping his hips rhythmically, driving himself into Leia as far as he could go," from that inimitable classic, Star Whores 3. All in all, it was surely the most layered and artistically interesting exploration of Rule 34 that I have yet experienced.

I guess I would say that Rule 34 is not dead, it's just indie now.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 8:36 AM on April 7, 2016 [7 favorites]


Shockingly, not a double.
posted by phearlez at 8:39 AM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Like whatever the (nsfw)Hell is going on here, for instance.

(full disclosure; I do know the director of the documentary, but it's relevant.)
posted by louche mustachio at 8:41 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


The WaPo's definition of "porn" seems to include the qualifiers "profit-driven" and "findable by even the least web-literate person." I assure you that Rule 34 is alive and well; people are driven to produce porn (just as they are driven to produce every other type of art) even without the chance of financial gain. It's not my fault the author doesn't know how to use DeviantArt or the booru sites.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:42 AM on April 7, 2016 [16 favorites]


But Delaney’s white whale remains Rule 34

Please tell me there is no Ahab / white whale slash.
posted by aught at 8:42 AM on April 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


Given the book title how could there possibly not be?
posted by Wretch729 at 8:46 AM on April 7, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'm glad that print journalism is doing well enough that the Post has enough excess resource to devote to fluff like this.
posted by TedW at 8:46 AM on April 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Investigating" Rule 34.

Right, and that peeping Tom with the hotel was a sex researcher.
posted by Mooski at 8:48 AM on April 7, 2016 [7 favorites]


Though Ahab/White Whale has nothing on Hogwarts/The Giant Squid. (err, NSFW obviously)
posted by Wretch729 at 8:48 AM on April 7, 2016


Please tell me there is no Ahab / white whale slash.

Any and all homoerotic elements to be mined from Moby Dick were put there intentionally by Melville himself.
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:51 AM on April 7, 2016 [11 favorites]


If there are any safe assumptions to make, it's that every link in this thread is NSFW.

Any link that is SFW is rendered NSFW due to Rule 34.
posted by ardgedee at 8:53 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Relevant(?): AO3.txt and Good Tags of AO3

What Rule 34 has not yet produced, kinkmemes and Yuletide exist to bring forth into the light.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:53 AM on April 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


the Bernie Porn, no, wait. I can wait.

Well, there's this (SFW).
posted by WCityMike at 8:54 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Porn has this reputation of being the first industry to take the brunt of whatever technological transformation is a underway. So I thought the author's points about the way Mind Geek has monopolized porn video and the way it's search terms, tags and algorithms are invisibly moulding porn consumer's tastes was interesting. What we find erotic is so culture dependent. Mind Geek is herding porn users into clusters to suit its own ease and convenience; as with other aspects of porn, they will inevitably shape what a whole generation of people find sexy vs. purient, mainstream vs. bizzare. As much as network TV and the separate beds for married couples did back in the day.

It echoes to me the effect Facebook and Google are having on the rest of the web. The way the ad dollars are flowing, 90% of the content out there is going to have to pass through those gates to be found.
posted by Diablevert at 8:58 AM on April 7, 2016 [7 favorites]


Nobody tell these guys (and gals) about DeviantArt then....
posted by davros42 at 8:59 AM on April 7, 2016


TedW, you might want to reconsider your use of "fluff"
posted by Pablo MacWilliams at 9:15 AM on April 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


Someone let cstross know plz.
posted by GuyZero at 9:18 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


The WaPo's definition of "porn" seems to include the qualifiers "profit-driven" and "findable by even the least web-literate person."

Yeah rule 34 was never really about stuff that you'd see on a commercial site for fuck's sake. It would be interesting to know if the greater availability of regular porn has cut into the production of weird homemade shit but this doesn't seem to answer that - in fact it answers that it still at least exists in the affirmative.
posted by atoxyl at 9:26 AM on April 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


the Bernie Porn

Taking it from the rich and giving it to the poor.

(or would it be the other way around?)
posted by Kabanos at 9:40 AM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


To expand on atoxyl: that the WP seems to finally report about rule 34 just means it's getting more attention, but it was never intended to be in the spot light, especially because it's all the stuff most well-adjusted (ymmv) people wouldn't think about.

Half the article is spent focusing on popular porn sites, but those are actual porn videos, mostly created by those who want the fame and fortune associated with their physical bodies. Rule 34 has always been about the typical 4-channer sketching out their fantasies and putting it on Deviant Art and places like paheal. It's a joke that's funny because it's true, and it's only true because of the "dark" corners of the internet. Whatever attitudes people have about porn, rule 34 is about perverting the usual fantasies, and perverts usually like staying out of the limelight.
posted by numaner at 9:45 AM on April 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


Pardon my naïveté, but DeviantArt actually allows porn on it and not just mature-ish pin up stuff?
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:52 AM on April 7, 2016



Pardon my naïveté, but DeviantArt actually allows porn on it and not just mature-ish pin up stuff?


Yes. I believe it all has to be flagged 18+, which requires a log-in to access. But I've definitely seen illustrations that could only be called "porn" on that site.
posted by explosion at 10:12 AM on April 7, 2016


One drunken night with friends we started trying to come up with something we couldn't find porn about. One suggestion was "cardboard" and we managed to find porn about that.

One thing I disagree with this article about is defining "porn" to mean "something that someone has made a movie about". Focussing too closely on the *Hub sites means they are completely ignoring all the hand drawn porn that is out there about ALL THE THINGS.
posted by hippybear at 10:29 AM on April 7, 2016 [9 favorites]


There was a thing, in the Wares tetralogy, called the Perplex Poultry Philtre. It would cause everything a person viewed with it activated as a series of poultry patterns with varying depths. Or something.

Point being, I'm surprised that no one's made a Fuck Philtre for text. Turn every page into a mesmerizing fractal ouroborous of letters copulating. No beginning, no end, multiple branching paths that rearrange in real humping time.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:48 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Already been done, Slackermagee.




s̸h̡̺̪e ͈͖̮c͇̠̝̪͈̝o̕m̲̙̜̣̮͇e̠̬͙͍ͅs͍̖̟͞
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:51 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I guess I would say that Rule 34 is not dead, it's just indie now.
And living at Tumblr.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:56 AM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well, the thing about Rule 34 originally -- which I think is highlighted by the article and is part of the point of the original cartoon itself -- is that it used to be that, a la Morley-Souter, back in the day if you went looking for porn at all on the internet you would eventually have your own Rule 34 moment. It's always been the case that the biggest number of searches was looking for pretty vanilla stuff, but in doing so you might have your horizons....broadened, shall we say? But with a the current commercial oligopoly of porn, that's probably no longer happening as much. If you are one for whom Tab A, Slot B porn does nothing, if your heart just doesn't go pitter-pat unless there's a tentacle or a car insurance spokestoon somehow involved, then yes there's still stuff out there for you. Terabytes, indeed. But you have to seek it out, you have to know that about yourself from the start probably to even think to seek it out in the first place. That I do think is a subtle shift, an effect of gatekeeping and consolidation.
posted by Diablevert at 10:58 AM on April 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


car insurance spokestoon

That gecko's accent is pretty sexy.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:04 AM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


In the late aughts, just as Ogas was wrapping up his study, the online porn industry began consolidating — moving away from individual producers and distributors, and toward massive, crowdsourced aggregators called “tube sites.” To give you an idea exactly how massive these sites are, consider this: Online porn comprises an estimated 4.7 percent of all desktop Internet traffic, and tube sites funnel the vast majority of that.
I guess this just happens to everything. Food, music, porn, books, taxi rides. Whatever people are into, if you aggregate and deliver it, you'll get the most money.
posted by ignignokt at 11:05 AM on April 7, 2016


If Rule 34 were really true, you'd think that one of the categories it would apply to is "sexy porn." And yet!
posted by zeusianfog at 11:14 AM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


MeFi's own cstross just posted this on twitter which had to be put on MetaFilter because everything.

Also, his twitter user image has been named "Authorial Gothic." Just so you know.
posted by eriko at 11:17 AM on April 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


Any and all homoerotic elements to be mined from Moby Dick were put there intentionally by Melville himself.

I happen to be reading it right now and I assure you that there are no such elements; it is a simple manly adventure story
posted by thelonius at 11:41 AM on April 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


back in the day if you went looking for porn at all on the internet you would eventually have your own Rule 34 moment

And it also used to be that if you were looking for anything you'd find porn, which Google mostly fixed (though second-tier search engines may still do this). I just think Rule 34 was coined as an observation about fandom and amateur cartoonists and imageboards, which was then propagated on purpose. I don't know whether there's still as much enthusiasm for that but I don't think it's answered here. The direction of commercial and amateur video porn featuring real people is also an interesting question - "you can get everything but it clusters" is not a super surprising answer though. There is quite a bit of independent or truly amateur stuff distributed through the big aggregators or storefront sites, for all sorts of preferences, but that doesn't mean the average person is looking for it.
posted by atoxyl at 11:42 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


So, how many milliseconds does it take ye olde reptilian hindbrain to recognize something visually stimulating?
(since we don't yet have Smellovision, which would no doubt work faster and better)

Obviously: a tool that presents um stimulating stuff, however defined, and measures the viewer's response as quickly as it happens and feeds that back to bias the next selected item presented.

I'm sure this already exists for Internet advertising, based on pupillary response or keyboard sweat detection or changes in typing rate or handedness, or something. But for Rule 34 selection material?

So it ought to be possible to have a deep fast dive into the available material to end up with just exactly the stuff that rings your particular chimes.

With a link to Amazon, of course, because: doesn't everything?
posted by hank at 11:42 AM on April 7, 2016


(since we don't yet have Smellovision, which would no doubt work faster and better)

I won't try to describe here the aroma of a weekend long gay sex pig party, especially in the playroom area, but I will assure you, it works quickly and quite well.
posted by hippybear at 11:45 AM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I won't try to describe here the aroma of a weekend long gay sex pig party
thank you
posted by murphy slaw at 12:51 PM on April 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


I just want to caution that in case anyone hasn't heard Ogi Ogas' name around here before, he is widely criticized by the subjects of his research for his offensive views and pseudoscientific research background.
posted by capricorn at 12:52 PM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Pardon my naïveté, but DeviantArt actually allows porn on it and not just mature-ish pin up stuff?

Well, shiniez/Stjepan Šejić's rather good BDSM comic Sunstone, which you'll need to be logged in to view, is still being serialised on Deviantart.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:14 PM on April 7, 2016


I have to ask - what is a gay pig party? The stuff that comes up on Google seems... unlikely to apply.
posted by Devonian at 2:26 PM on April 7, 2016


Alien goat sex may still exist somewhere in the Internet’s unplumbable depths, but it is far deeper down than it used to be.

2937 image results on Hentai Foundry for the word "draenei". 3705 on Fur Affinity. I think the field is covered.
posted by kafziel at 3:42 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


the quote saying if you look for "skeleton porn" you'll find it intrigued me so i went googling. I ended up on pornhub watching a 15 minute undertale fight and then somehow have spent the entirety of the last hour watching a minecraft lets plays narrated by a very nice possibly swedish man, clips of wrestlemania intros including five straight minutes of john cena lookalikes with the theme music playing on repeat the entire time, a 10 minute video that's literally just an old man demonstrating the optimal way to eat a watermelon, and a video that's just the seinfeld theme song on repeat, all uploaded on pornhub. none of these are what i expected to find but i have to admit i'm much more pleased with this result.
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 3:44 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


They found that, while an extraordinary range of material does technically exist, a mere 5 percent of the sites’ available tags cover 90 percent of their videos.

This is hardly surprising; your average person is pretty vanilla on average and broad producers cater to the lowest common denominator. And a lot of the 5% of tags are going to be things that apply to practically every video in some combination: Blonde; brunette; redhead; sex; blowjob; doggie; missionary; Asian; Latino; ass; boobs; bondage; college; teen; feet; euro; hardcore; porn star; amateur; threesome; solo; POV; Gay; Lesbian. These are tags that are so shallow as to be almost meaningless except as a first pass filter.

Diablevert: "Well, the thing about Rule 34 originally -- which I think is highlighted by the article and is part of the point of the original cartoon itself -- is that it used to be that, a la Morley-Souter, back in the day if you went looking for porn at all on the internet you would eventually have your own Rule 34 moment. It's always been the case that the biggest number of searches was looking for pretty vanilla stuff, but in doing so you might have your horizons....broadened, shall we say? But with a the current commercial oligopoly of porn, that's probably no longer happening as much."

Man I still have Rule 34 moments. Knowing of the existence of Rule 34 is no protection from thinking "WTF! How is there porn of this?" I fell into a WTF! porn tornado on reddit last week searching for tips on photographing jewelry. There is a lot of fetishation of Jewelry (NSFW) I tell you what. But often you have to click past the first page or two of google results or be performing a reverse image search. Like Hmm, I wonder who makes that toothbrush -> RIS -> OOOoooohhhh SFW.
posted by Mitheral at 4:23 PM on April 7, 2016


This is like saying indie films are dead because the local megaplex got bought by AMC. And the article barely discusses the irony the concept is steeped in. A good percentage of R34 stuff is made as a joke, and there's no clear line between sincere smut and irony.

Also, I remember the Ogas controversy, but didn't really read too much on it. His thesis ("Slash-fics are to women as pornography featuring male-to-female transsexuals is to men, because evopsych") is not only offensive, it's not even wrong. I legitimately can't follow his reasoning comparing one work which focuses on homosexual relationships with fetishizing trans people. Amazingly weird.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:22 PM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


This has been touched on already, but one of the issues with this article is it seems to define "porn" as videos of real people having sex. Whereas a large percentage of Rule 34 content is drawings or animated or CG porn (its a lot easier to handle the truly "long tail" of rule 34 possibilities when escaping the limits of reality entirely).
posted by thefoxgod at 6:45 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pfft, doubtful future? Challenge accepted.
posted by ostranenie at 6:46 PM on April 7, 2016


I think it comes in waves, waxing and waning. The first porn I saw on the Internet was in the late 1980s, downloading glacially slowly over UUCP on Usenet: static, tiny images, grainy and mostly badly indexed colour and appearing on University screens formerly used mainly for math visualisations. It was already staggeringly diverse, culturally polygamous and *filthy*. Everyone who saw it was quite surprised given the homogeneity of the then-available mass media porn. But then it kind of recedes, like background noise. But then a new tech comes along, or a social innovation, like home access internet, higher bandwidth, motion video, cams, "amateur", indexing and tagging, social sharing, etc. They push this sort of thing right into the faces of new generations, and surprise olds who had become jaded and thought themselves inured to anything. I think widespread VR could be a similar waxing tech.
posted by meehawl at 8:32 PM on April 7, 2016


I just want to caution that in case anyone hasn't heard Ogi Ogas' name around here before, he is widely criticized by the subjects of his research for his offensive views and pseudoscientific research background.

Man a guy who studies porn should not grow a thin mustache.

And yeah I heard mixed things about his book at best.
posted by atoxyl at 9:38 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


An acquaintance of mine made a not-so-small pile of money back in the late 90s-early 00s as a tout for various commercial porn sites (those were the free Thumbnail Gallery Posts back then).

He made his money when visitors would sign up for subscriptions to his providers, getting either an immediate kickback or a monthly percentage of the subscription.

When the bottom fell out of that market (rampant piracy and amateur stuff), he told me this:
"""No one is going to pay for porn anymore, when they can get it all for free. I mean, the only place in this business to make money is for content that the audience doesn't want their friends to know about -- grannies and trannies. And I'm just not willing to go down that path. Payments get questionable the more niche you go."""

All the porn, all of the Rule 34 porn, is out there. But weirdly the only thing this author found was the vanilla stuff.

Authorial bias? Or just poor homework?
posted by drfu at 10:04 PM on April 7, 2016


Another one bites the dust:
Cuckoldry is incredibly rare among humans
Science proves that there's only about a 1% chance that your wife is having Satan's baby instead of yours.
Except that if your wife is the other member of a same-sex marriage there's a 100% chance it's not your biological child, but that rate might go down soon.
posted by XMLicious at 1:38 AM on April 8, 2016


thefoxgod: "This has been touched on already, but one of the issues with this article is it seems to define "porn" as videos of real people having sex."

And it isn't even internally consistent. If the argument is that the uniformity of the porn on tube sites indicates Rule 34 is waning, then that would mean that in the past there were a lot more Rule 34 videos. So, what, back in the day there were a lot of Tetris and alien goat and paperclip porn videos? And they've been pulled offline or something?

"People used to sleep in beds at night. However, now when I go to the gym it's all people running or lifting weights. Therefore, people don't sleep in beds much any more."
posted by Bugbread at 2:25 AM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Hey drfu I realize you're directly quoting your friend, who was himself deeply steeped in porn lingo, but in the future maybe think twice before using an offensive slur for trans women on metafilter?
posted by vibratory manner of working at 4:19 PM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Kudos to the WaPo for grappling with throbbing, hard topic.
posted by GhostRider at 11:08 AM on April 10, 2016


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