598: Porn

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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I have a thing for corrupt women.
Title text: I have a thing for corrupt women.


Cueball's mention of how porn did not scar him is a reference to negative effects of pornography. One commonly cited effect is a tendency to develop unrealistic ideas about sex and unrealistic expectations that potential sex partners will look like the ones seen in porn.

In fact, the porn really did affect the way he looked at women. Due to dial-up being of such a slow speed, videos that needed to be transmitted via dial-up had to be compressed using a lossy format, which reduces file sizes substantially but also causes heavy data losses. The result was that the decompressed file would be of visibly degraded quality compared to the original uncompressed file. In this case, the lossy format eats away at the detail of the picture, which, during decompression, results in blocky artifacts in an attempt to "reconstruct" the lost data.

Thus, Cueball's image of women was in fact affected by his porn viewing habits. However, instead of the issue usually raised (expecting sex partners to have the physiques of porn performers), he has learned to associate sexual arousal with lo-fidelity blocky images of women. Since he associates blocky pictures with arousal, he seems to have trouble enjoying sex with his comparatively hi-fi girlfriend. In other words, the porn really did scar him after all.

The title text expands on this, referencing file corruption. It is also a pun on female "corruption," or a woman's awareness of her sexuality.


[Cueball is hunched up at a computer. A circle surrounds him; the rest of the panel is black. The text is written in a square panel above the white circle.]
I shouldn't have watched all that porn as a teenager.
[The text is above the picture in a square frame. A computer screen is shown. It displays an on-line video player, with what appears to be a Cueball-like guy performing cunnilingus on a Megan-like girl. Five other windows (maybe ads) are also visible, though what they depict is not clear. One of them has readable text above a picture (of what appear to be a fleshlight). The rest of the text, including a heading at the top, is unreadable. There is picture with a lady with "big" hair holding her arms out. She has two black blotches on each side of her body. Maybe representing her breast, perhaps in a bra.]
It's not that it scarred me.
Ad text: X 10
[A modem is shown between the two text parts. The text is in two square frames.]
It's just that we had dial-up.
Modem: 14.4 kbps
And now I'm stuck with a fetish.
[Cueball and Megan are in bed together. The text above the picture is in a square frame.]
For video compression.
Cueball: Can you try to look... blockier?

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I also remember the days where "Interlaced" wasn't a description of what they were (almost) wearing... 19:22, 23 May 2013 (UTC)

Waiting for an image that took over 10 seconds to load, when your mom could wake up at any minute....yeesh, those were terrible times. 04:17, 22 July 2017 (UTC)

I wish that the x10 was X11, just for the Unix. -- 00:05, 29 May 2021 (UTC)

Why is fleshlights a category for this comic?--Arlo (talk) 04:05, 15 September 2023 (UTC)

Mentioned (as 'possible') in the Transcript of the image. It's a stretch bit more speculative than I'm comfortable with happy to believe, before specifically looking at the high quality image to check, but it could be that. 11:00, 15 September 2023 (UTC)