Strange Times

Clare Potts comments on the suprising agreement between Euphoria's Rue, Pope Francis, and author Chanel Contos on porn.

You know you’re in strange times when Pope Francis, Chanel Contos, and Euphoria are singing the same song. I was late to Euphoria – the 2019 American teen show on sex, drugs, and social media – and binged it over my summer holidays. 

In the pilot, our narrator Rue, a drug addict with a heart of gold, talks teenage boys’ sexuality. The scene shows a relatively decent teenager called McKay deciding to choke his girlfriend Cassie while they’re having sex. 

Rue’s commentary on this: “This **** isn’t out of left field.” The scene’s shock factor is deliberately high, and when Rue points to the main culprit behind McKay’s violence – pornography – it gets even heavier. 

The show then gives us a montage of split-second scenes that represent the disturbing pornographic content available online. As the scenes flash across the screen, Rue’s explanation, and McKay’s behaviour, horrifically, start to make sense. 

Four years later in Australia, 20-something consent activist Chanel Contos writes in her 2023 book, Consent Laid Bare

“I am genuinely perplexed how we can continue to have conversations about preventing men subjecting women and children to sexual violence when [porn] is the unspoken reality…I do not think that anyone can consume porn truly ethically.” 

Fast forward to 17 January 2024, Pope Francis stands up in Saint Peter’s Square and denounces pornography, arguing that it undermines sexual pleasure and is, essentially, satanic

Many people think pornography is problematic to some degree. But when people from divergent backgrounds and moral frameworks label it as dangerous for everyone, my ears prick up. 

Euphoria asks what pornography is doing to the minds of otherwise decent boys. Chanel Contos cannot see a way for women to be safe and pornography to exist. Pope Francis frames pornography as a spiritual war that ruins sex. What do you think? 


Down the Rabbit Hole: Bodies, Pixels, Porn, and the Promise of AI

Nathan Campbell considers the images we consume, and how they might consume us.