2 min

Thank the big dildoes

With dildoes in porn videos getting as big as fists, why prohibit shots of real fists entering orifices?

Just over a year ago, members of the Ontario Film Review Board asked themselves that question and decided there was no reason. And so depiction of anal and vaginal fisting, and at the same time, some watersports, have been popping up on video rental and sales shelves in a province that wouldn’t let you watch a penis going into a mouth or a tongue lap a vagina 10 years ago.

You could say the board is just catching up with community standards. Or you could say it’s a death gasp.

“You never underestimate the ingenuity of dildo manufacturers,” says Bob Warren, chair of the 28-member board, explaining the shift. “We were getting all shapes and sizes, huge dildoes, but we weren’t allowing fists. We wanted to be consistent.”

Though the classification system is independent of court and police decisions – something that may be allowed by the board may be obscene under the Criminal Code and vice versa – it determines what Ontarians can watch at home, in a theatre or in a peep show.

Until the mid-1980s, it was called the Ontario Censor Board and adult sex films were banned without even a look-see.

“Under [then-premier] David Peterson, the board moved from censorship to review. I was the anti-censorship member,” says Maurice Yacowar, a professor of English and film studies at the University Of Calgary. “It had the reputation, in that period, as being visibly wrong.”

Now the board is made of a “representative” group of people from across the province, who watch porn (and mainstream films, too) as a part-time gig. They review twice as many sex films (2,450 in 1998-’99) as they do mainstream, according to a set of guidelines.

The guidelines and the names of board members are not public.

Yacowar says the end is near for film review boards. They have tied their rating system more closely to community standards – and community standards have shifted dramatically. People just want classifications, so they know what they can take their kids to.

There’s also technology. Internet content bypasses all governmental regulation, which results in review boards targeting mediums, not images. Even DVDs, which are slowing replacing VHS as the masturbator’s player of choice, are difficult for the board to censor: there’s no master tape to cut up.

“The regulations for DVDs aren’t adopted,” says Randy Jorgensen, president of Adult Only Video. “The distributor gets samples and submits them to the board, but to censor, you’d have to censor each disk.”

Jorgensen’s says his company submits about 400 sex films a year for review (as much as 20 percent of DVDs are seized by Canada Customs before they even get to the board). He says fisting and watersports account for a fair chuck of the new stock because they’re a new phenomenon – but they remain a niche market.

It’s not a case of anything goes, yet. Who can forget this spring’s decision to ban the acclaimed documentary, Grass, because of 20 seconds of historic footage of monkeys smoking marijuana? (The decision was eventually reversed.)

Violence and sex, as well as child sexuality, are still a no-no. Urination is permitted, but not on or in someone – that would be degrading. The person being fisted must not display “pain, discomfort or distress,” says Warren.

So wanna-be pornographers should tell their models to keep smiling – or else Ontario might not get to watch.