This is an important question that I have never seen a clear answer to. The catechism’s definition of pornography talks about “real” or “simulated” sexual acts, but what does this mean in practice?
I think real acts are pretty much exclusively in films intended to be porn, but in terms of simulated acts, this seems uncomfortably vague for those trying to determine what regular films are safe to watch by themselves or with family.
Does simulated in this case mean that there has to be graphic depictions of sexual content even if not actually being performed? Does this portion of the definition exist to prevent a “loophole” scenario where someone insists on watching a film heavy in nudity in sexual content under the pretense that the actors aren’t actually having sex but just simulating it even though the effect might be to produce the same reaction in the viewer as if it were totally real?
It’s just frustrating when you are watching a film where you don’t expect there to be this kind of scene and it just surprises you. I wish the catechism was clearer on this topic because I see how many people seem unclear on the definition.
For example, I was watching Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. I’ve seen many of his films and to my knowledge he has never put sex scenes in his movies. In this film however there is a scene where an African-American soldier tries to humiliate the son of Confederate officer by coercing him into performing a sex act on him. There’s nothing explicitly shown from what I saw except the person’s head in front of the soldier’s groin area for like 3 seconds.
Clearly this wasn’t real, but is this “simulated” according to the catechism’s definition? Clearly this was meant not to arouse the viewer but be a crude sexual joke; it was however intended to give the impression that something was taking place without showing it. But where does one draw the line on what counts as simulated sexual acts for pornography according to the catechism’s definition?