Pornography vs. Romance

Watch a pornographic movie and you’ll see that the whole emphasis is on the physical act of sex, shot from multiple angles and engaging in multiple positions. Beyond the erotic thrill of watching other people having sex, pornographic movies have little else to offer.

On the other hand, good romance stories focus on the characters getting to know each other, struggling to stay together, and ultimately finding true love. The actual physical act of love is largely absent, but the real thrill is watching the characters jockey and struggle, scheme and fail as they search for true love.

That’s the difference between a story and mere action. Pornography is just action. In pornographic action films, the emphasis is purely on blowing up as many things as often as possible with loads of people getting gunned down in multiple ways — just like pornography.¬†Horror pornography is little different. That’s where the emphasis is on showing victims getting slaughtered and tortured in various ways.

If you want to write pornography of any kind, just focus on the action and make sure that action occurs as often as possible, even if it doesn’t make any sense. However, if you want to write a good story, you need more than just action. In fact, the real appeal of great stories is how the characters achieve their goals; the action is secondary.

In “Die Hard,” the real story wasn’t about killing terrorists but about John McClane trying to get back with his wife, and to do that, he has to outwit and outfight the terrorists. In all the bad “Die Hard” sequels, the story is simply about one meaningless set of action after another with no story to hold everything together. While there is a thin thread of a story, it’s not enough to overcome the overwhelming action that swamps any attempt at real story telling.

The real story is never the action itself but the moments leading up to that action that makes that action meaningful. Just as watching porn stars having sex gets dull after a while, so will meaningless action by itself feel pointless and irrelevant. Just look at recent flops like “Valerian” that emphasizes special effects or “Flatliners” that emphasizes horror at the expense of any character development. You don’t want just action but you want the moments in between the action to be just as interesting in a dramatic way than the action itself. Then the action is like a spice that highlights the story without overwhelming it.

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