What is Rule 34?
Rule 34 is an internet meme that describes the current state of sexual freedom and creativity that exists online today. The rule is generally quoted as saying, “If it exists, there is porn of it (on the internet.)”
Rule 34 began as an internet meme. The currently accepted definition of Rule 34 states, “If it exists, there is porn of it.” There is some debate about if it is followed by Rule 35 which states, “If no porn is found, it will be made.” Some maintain that Rule 34 includes that statement. The origin of Rule 34 is unknown but one of the earliest uses is in a 2003 webcomic by author Peter Morley-Souter. The comic was designed to depict his reaction to seeing a parody porn version of the popular syndicated comic “Calvin and Hobbes.” The comic first appeared on the British website Zoom-Out in 2004 and has since become a part of internet lore.
One of the tenants of Rule 34 is that nothing is sacred and Cory Doctorow, of the seminal website BoingBoing.net concludes, “Rule 34 can be thought of as a kind of indictment of the Web as a cesspit of freaks, geeks, and weirdos, but seen through the lens of cosmopolitanism,” which “bespeaks a certain sophistication—a gourmet approach to life.” In the current state of public sexual discourse Rule 34 can be seen as both a positive progression towards open-mindedness and freedom of expression. Inversely it can also be used to create offensive content under the guise of fair use, parody, and in response to various pop culture or newsworthy events.
Rule 34 exists as a bastion of sexual creativity and freedom on the internet. It is the basis of parody based adult entertainment sites such as DogFart.com, WoodRocket.com, and to a lesser degree, the massively popular Axel Braun parodies. Many pundits attempt to counter the effects of Rule 34 by saying or following up with the phrase, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Regardless of that fact, as the internet grows as a platform for content creation it is likely that Rule 34 will become even more of law in reality than it already is.
4Chan and 9Gag are two popular, semi-anonymous user forums that frequently reference Rule 34.