Rule 34 (of the Internet)

The informant is a USC student, an artist, an anthro major, LGBT-identified, and was born in 1994.


Rule 34.

Rule 34 is when – have I got a story for you.

Rule 34 refers to ‘Rule 34 of the internet.’ I don’t know when the rules were decided. They were probably written by some guy in his basement like 10 years ago.

Do you know if it was written by one person?

Probably written by several people.

Because there are so many rules and people keep coming up with more rules.

Rule 34: “If it exists, there’s porn of it.” Which is true most of the time. Because usually if something exists and somebody has seen it, they probably have a fetish for it. It comes from that idea that the internet is a place where anyone can submit anything really, and Rule 34 refers to anything that’s – “Oh look, it’s Winnie the Pooh and Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. They really like each other. They like each other sooo much, that I drew porn of it.” That’s like “I ship it.” You can find anything. I think it’s tough to say how to measure Rule 34 as a medium but it’s become kind of like a category. You don’t remember any of the other categories, really, there’s like one other rule – well I can’t remember what it is, it’s like Rule 52 or something.

The genderswap category. That’s the other popular one. But those are the only two really that are famous because basically they’re like art categories now. If you draw Rule 34 – there are people who are like “Yeah, I’m a professional Rule 34 artist.” People commission you to make porn of your favorite things. It’s really fucked up, but it happens, you know. I think that there are website where you can look it up. Tumblr is a great place for finding it. I would know.

Have you looked up many Rule 34?

I can’t say I’ve looked it up, rather, I’ve stumbled across it quite frequently. I’m on my way down my feed, and y’know. One thing about it is that artists who are starting out are trying to make a living on commissions, one thing that they do is that if they’re good at drawing characters they will draw – porn is easy money actually, because people will actually pay for it. Unlike other types. Any they will – most artists go into porn because it’s easier for them to draw, and then they can just draw it. And they can just crank it out. And people will be like “Oh, your art is so good. I will buy 20.” And that’s why people make it – there’s an audience for it.

Talk about your feelings about Rule 34

My feelings about Rule 34 – I’m indifferent to it, honestly. I’m a very easygoing person. I think that people should enjoy whatever they want to enjoy. I mean like – as an artist?

Have you ever drawn Rule 34?

I guess like – I once drew a dragon dick, and that’s probably as far as I went. I don’t think I’ve actively drawn – I’ve never contributed to the Rule 34 society, the community as a whole. I have not given back. But I will say this – y’know. It does – it definitely does have an audience. So if you need to get somewhere…

There’s a reason it’s a rule on the internet. When did you first learn about it?

Damn. I would say when I started using the internet pretty actively – so I think around twelve. I don’t think I saw it then, I just happened to know what it was then. I’d say I was familiar with the concept of Rule 34 at that point in my life.




While by no means exclusive to younger folk, this is probably a concept more familiar to the generation who grew up with the internet as a standard part of their life. It’s a very internet-originated thing and the whole list of rules is pretty meta, given that it’s a list of rules about the internet, on the internet, generated by internet users. This particular rule highlights the relative freedom that the internet allows and calls boundaries into question.