It used to be a long day's journey into night.
Great writers would craft feature-length scripts worthy of the performers who would swallow each word as if it were their own, give it full dramatic meaning, and lift the whole spectacle to sublime levels.
Then the Web came along to debase the art that was pornography.
According to a report in The New York Times, some of the finest pornographic actors are bemoaning and bemoaning and bemoaning the demise of the great 90-minute carnal classic.
Steven Hirsch, co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment, one of the apogees of pornographic production, told the Times: "On the Internet, the average attention span is three to five minutes. We have to cater to that."
The Times' report claims that three years ago almost all of Vivid's productions were full-length movies. Each, no doubt, had deeply nuanced characters whose dramatic arc curved across the 90 minutes like a rainbow over a hilly horizon.
Yet now, the purveyors of porn are resorting to subscription-based business models. Apparently you have to pay a monthly fee and the sites have to boast about the frequency of new, shorter uploads. (Some estimates, the reports says, suggest that sales and rentals of porn DVDs are down by as much as 50 percent.)
Is the Web and the supposed ADD of its users to blame for this? Perhaps, though somehow the sound bite and the visual bite seem to be more the creation of television in its joyous heyday.
However, is it possible that what the Web has done to mess up these delightfully lucrative porn businesses is that it has ushered in the advent of that nasty little disease called free?
Purely in the cause of researching this vexing question, I called those who live and breathe this world and asked them what the equivalent of YouTube might be for those interested in pornographic exploration.
Remarkably, I was told there is something called YouPorn. And several other sites whose veins are entirely similar, in that they offer pornografree.
These sites appear to enjoy films of varying length and depth. Some last a mere 29 seconds. Others go on for as long as an hour.
Some, indeed, are abbreviated versions of movies that the more vivid of porn producers would like you to pay for. Others are merely real people who would like it very much if you could share some of their more blissful moments.
The most viewed movie on YouPorn this week, at the time of writing, lasted 335 seconds and had been espied more than 1.5 million times. However, the third most viewed, with more than 1 million clicks, lasted more than 30 minutes.
Which might suggest that decreased attention span is not the whole story.
Indeed, is there any evidence that the vast majority of viewers, even in the times of the 90-minute porn extravaganza, didn't merely fast forward through the dialog in order to gain immediate access to the, um, action scenes?
Perhaps you could ask your friends for me.