It can be interesting to read old genre fiction from time to time: the stuff that was published in the 90s, the 80s or earlier. Not just because it can give you nostalgic thrills if the story is one you loved at the time, but (as with films and old TV series) all the little background details jump out, and can sometimes grab your attention more than the plot. Along with the fascination of previous fashion styles, interior design and architecture, you will sometimes get surprising insight into the way people were actually reacting to the big news stories of the time. There’s a difference between the author who refers to the current social/political climate in the course of telling a love story, or a murder mystery, and the ones who have chosen to set their book in the past, of course: someone who is writing from a decades-later perspective might throw in a war or a celebrity scandal for ‘authenticity’ but is quite likely to present the characters’ reactions to the event as being in line with the present day perspective on whatever it was – as though there was an immediate consensus on the ‘right’ way to react and this can be used to illustrate the morality of the fictional character.
Some authors have a real knack for setting their stories in a specific timeframe and adding just enough mentions of contemporary events to keep things plausible, without overwhelming the reader with either too much realism or allowing a character to be a mouthpiece for the author’s op-ed-type views on an election, natural disaster or social upheaval. Erotica, on the whole, doesn’t tend to concern itself directly with politics and current affairs, or has not been inclined to do so in the past. That seems to be changing, nowadays, but there are still plenty of people who prefer a good, escapist read they can have an enjoyable wank over.
Neither approach is wrong, of course. There’s a lot to be said for producing work that simply makes other people a bit happier, partcularly when the world around us seems to be getting worse and worse. But if you do find yourself slipping in a little political commentary, or having a character cry over a contemporary tragedy, or even if you feel the need to write a full-blown dirty polemic, then there’s no reason not to give it a go.