Visual formats

(Warning: some material about gay sex in plain language.)

On AZBlogX, a posting about a “cast album” for the gay porn flick Crave. Here, some reflections about this (conventionalized) visual format, an analogue to to conventionalized formats for linguistic material, variously referred to as “styles”, “registers”, “routines”, or “genres” (the terminological issues are vexed indeed) — choices of linguistic features that come together in packages, for use in specific contexts for specific purposes.

Some examples: from primarily spoken language, live sports commentary, church services; from written language, newspaper headlines, recipes, menus. And then, the primarily visual (graphic or photographic) analogue, for instance, the formats (and conventionalized features) of comics and cartoons. And the cast album in gay porn ads.

From my XBlog posting:

The cast album is an odd, highly conventionalized, format in ads for porn flicks: usually, a set of narrow framed photos of the actors, labeled with their names, side by side. The men are displaying their bodies, with a focus on their cocks (and sometimes their armpits as well), though a few are in rear shots (offering their asses for fucking) and a small number in side shots (to display both cock and ass, but this presentation is pretty much the porn equivalent of the spork — not great as a dick display, not great as a butt display, either). They are mostly standing, though a few are sitting or are lying on a bed. Most are naked, but some have a bit of clothing or costume on. Some are facially impassive or even scowling — tough guys — but some are invitingly smiling, or at least half-smiling. In general, these photos are not particularly revealing of character or thought (as the shots in “art” male photography are), nor are they intended to be: their function is to reassure the viewer that the actors have the equipment that can get him off.

You’ll have to go to the XBlog posting to view examples, since by their very nature they can’t be shown on this blog. That posting has the cast album for the porn flick Crave (with the usual slices-of-bodies layout replaced by a montage of the bodies, but still keyed indirectly to the names of the actors), along with two more typical cast albums, from  the flicks (The Best of Joe Gage) Rednecks and Sucked Off in Weird Places. (As a bonus for enthusiasts of my XBlog, it also has discussion, with explicit photos, of the pornstars featured in Crave.)

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