Untangling the Tingle: Deep Throat, Deep Throat,” and Symbols of Cultural Production

Friday, January 6, 2017: 8:50 AM
Mile High Ballroom 1B (Colorado Convention Center)
Michael Daniel Goodnough, Kent State University
This presentation traces the cultural chatter generated by the term “Deep Throat” in 1970s American history and its relationship with the rise of “Porno Chic” to argue that the term represented the negotiation between cultural and political symbols prevalent during the 1970s. It examines the ways in which the pornographic film Deep Throat jumpstarted debates relating to obscenity and sexuality, and reviews how these debates reflected particular 1970s cultural attitudes. Using a multiplicity of cultural sources, Untangling the Tingle shows how the film was portrayed in popular culture and then shifts its focus to the Watergate Scandal that caused “Deep Throat” to take on another contested meaning. By the mid-1970s “Deep Throat” no longer represented a controversy about obscenity and sexuality but was instead used to illustrate government corruption within the Nixon Administration. This reconfiguration of “Deep Throat” had a lasting effect on American culture, and the presentation concludes with more recent representations of the term and its cultural meanings. Untangling the Tingle ultimately provides a new method for understanding the fractured historiography of the 1970s by bridging popular culture with political history.