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The Real Don Jons: How online porn has affected a generation

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In the R-rated comedy Don Jon, opening Sept. 27, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a twentysomething New Jersey gym rat and self-styled ladies’ man whose ability to maintain normal relationships with women is hampered by his obsession with online porn. While his girlfriend, played by Scarlett Johansson, swoons for the fantasies on display in Hollywood romantic comedies, Jon (Gordon-Levitt) wonders how the flesh-and-blood women he meets can ever measure up to the virtual vixens on his computer screen. If this sounds like pretty racy subject matter for a mainstream movie—well, it is. But Gordon-Levitt, who wrote and directed Don Jon, says he was interested in exploring how the media shapes our perceptions and expectations. “Pornography is a huge, huge part of our media culture,” he tells EW in this week’s cover story. “The message Don Jon is trying to bring to light—and make fun of—is reducing people, especially women, to nothing but sex objects.”

Unless you happened to take a strict vow of celibacy around 1991, you know that the Internet is, to a large extent, one massive porn delivery system. By one recent measure, 30 percent of all data transferred across the web is some form of pornography, and porn sites attract more unique visitors each month than Amazon, Twitter, and Netflix combined. What no one is quite sure about, though, is what effect this is having on us—and, in particular, on the generation of people reared in the Internet age. What kind of influence has growing up in an era of instantly accessible online porn had on men—and, for that matter, women—who are now in their 20s? Just how many real-life Don Jons out there are wrestling with the impacts of their porn use? READ FULL STORY

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