The easiest way of explaining Rule 34 is by relating a story that once happened to your author many years ago. I and my good friend, who shall be known as Alex, were watching “Imprint,” a very well done Japanese horror story being told as part of the Masters of Horror series. In this film there is a very gruesome, drawn out scene of an attractive prostitute being put through what I refer to as Japanese needle torture. The woman had long needles being shoved under her fingernails, into her eyelids, through her lips and tongue, and through various points on her body. The two of us were doing our level best to endure, but the scene was making us squirm, as was the intention of the film. At which point I leaned over and said, “You know… someone, somewhere is in their basement furiously masturbating to this.” Not only did we crack up and take away any power the torture scene had, we found a good way of summing up the implication of Rule 34.
The accepted definition for Rule 34 is, “If it exists, there is porn of it.” The caveat of this is the follow up Rule 35 which states, “If there isn’t porn of it yet, there will be.” While these two rules might constitute nothing more than an amusing turn of phrase to describe Internet memes, one of the reasons that these rules have endured is that there is some truth in the statements. Not necessarily about pornography, which is profligate all over the Internet, but more about human nature.
Rule 34 can be expanded until it becomes a statement not just about pornography, but about human sexuality. The old proverb “one man’s meat is another man’s poison” applies aptly to sexuality and how diverse it might be. To one person, performing fellatio might be completely normal, while to another person performing that act could be viewed as deviant. To some men dressing up in women’s clothing is anathema, and to others it’s Tuesday. Almost anything, taken in the proper context, is likely to be someone’s fetish or turn-on. Not everyone will understand why or how, but it’s a trend that shows there really is no such thing as normal in the world. Rule 34 could then be used as a way to explain bondage and sado-masochism, dominants and submissives, pedophiles, flashers, transgendered persons and almost anything else that takes place in the field of human sexuality. Rule 34; no matter what it is, or how strange you may find it, chances are that someone, somewhere is turned on by it.