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Life in Russia After Porn

Adult film star Riley Reid reimagined as the ghost of pornography past. Image: Pixabay. Edited by Kevin Rothrock.

Adult film star Riley Reid reimagined as the ghost of pornography past. Image: Pixabay. Edited by Kevin Rothrock.

A week after Russian censors banned two of the most popular pornography sites on the Internet, ordinary Web users are firing back with an online flashmob that mixes satire and protest. Started by a group of journalists and media managers, Russians are filming themselves watching adult videos on PornHub and YouPorn, narrating what they see. The short movies, uploaded to social media, are both serious and absurd, with both men and women joining in.

Daniil Trabun, Russian Esquire’s digital director and a former chief editor at the magazine Afisha, is the one who launched the flashmob, known as “#rospornobzor” (translating roughly to “Russian State Porn Review Board”). In his video, he regaled his Facebook audience with a retelling of a PornHub short film titled “Step Brother Catches His Sister With a Big Dildo and Then Screws Her.”

With nearly 12,000 views, Natalia Isomina's retelling of a pornographic parody of the mobile game Pokemon Go is one of the most popular “#rospornobzor” installments. Even if you don't speak Russian, you'll likely be more than entertained by her reactions:

The act of narrating pornography makes for a ridiculous spectacle, but Trabun is quite serious about the social significance of the flashmob:

На государственном уровне насаждается ханжеская стерильная и консервативная позиция, которая при этом никак не объясняется — дискуссии нет. Эта нездоровая двойственность выражается и в отсутствии нейтрального лексикона, которым мы про секс можем говорить.

A hypocritical, sterile, and conservative approach is spreading on a state level, and there’s no effort made to justify it—there’s no discussion. This unhealthy ambivalence manifests itself in the absence of a neutral vocabulary for discussing sex.

Not everyone approves of the flashmob, however. For instance, Tatyana Nikonova, a popular feminist writer and blogger, refuses to classify pornography as sex, denouncing “#rospornobzor” as an inappropriate attempt to create a “neutral vocabulary.”

The Russian government’s move against PornHub and YouPorn has prompted some subtly amusing behavior by Vkontakte, the country’s biggest online social network, which suddenly granted PornHub an official community page, even changing the color of PornHub’s “verified” badge to match the porn website’s orange-and-black logo. Vkontakte then went a step further and made PornHub’s colors the default when users upload adult video content to the site.

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