Gonzo pornography as "cultural apocalypse" - Nation Books

6 posts / 0 new
Last post
martin dufresne
Gonzo pornography as "cultural apocalypse" - Nation Books

The following is an excerpt from a Nation Books review of Chris Hedges' Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and Triumph of Spectacle, where Chris Hedges attends an enormous porn convention in Las Vegas:

The largest users of internet porn, which is slowly draining away profits from magazines and DVD sales because so much of it is free, are between the ages of 12 and 17. And porn producers know their market is increasingly underage. "The age demographic has moved downwards, especially in the UK and Europe," explained Steve Honest, the European director of production for Bluebird Films. "Porn is the new rock and roll. Young people and women are embracing porn and making purchases. Porn targets the mid-teens to the mid-twenties and up."

There are some 13,000 porn films made in the United States a year. According to the Internet Filter Review, worldwide porn revenues, including in-room movies at hotels, sex clubs and the ever-expanding E-sex world, topped $97 billion in 2006. That's more than the revenues of the leading technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink. Annual sales in the United States are estimated at $ 10 billion or higher. There is no agency that does precise monitoring of the porn industry. And porn is very lucrative to some of the nation's largest corporations. General Motors, for example, owns DirectTV, which distributes over forty million streams of porn into American homes every month. AT&T Broadband and Comcast Cable are the currently biggest American companies accommodating porn users with The Hot Network, Adult Pay-Per-View and similarly themed services. AT&T and GM rake in approximately 80 percent of all porn dollars spent by consumers. (...)

martin dufresne

November 19, 2008

This is the finished essay of the talk given by Joy as part of the workshop at the Anarchist Bookfair.

(Cross-posted at Anti-Porn Feminists)

Porn and Sexual Liberation
I'm told that porn is all about choice; the choice to make porn and the choice to use it. I can understand that - we'd all love to have plenty of choice in our sex lives. And I can see there's plenty of choice involved in porn: business choice for the pornographers, economic choice for the multi-national porn industry, consumer choice for porn users. Pornographers, the porn industry, the johns, all exercise their choice to profit from the sale and use of women's, children's and men's bodies. The former three have the greater choices (if what the latter are left with can be said to even constitute a choice at all).

I'm told that porn is just fantasy, not to be taken seriously. But porn is not fantasy, the pictures and recordings are of real live human beings just like you and me but, instead of being portrayed as individuals, as human beings, they are treated as fragmented body parts; women, men and children are depicted and used as holes, cunts, living sex aids, receptacles for the depositing of waste fluids, just so you and I can have our sexual freedom, and the porn industry can count its profits.

The porn industry: A multi-national multi-billion currency industry. ‘Industry' sounds respectable - it's only work - but we know from other multi-national industrialists that work isn't necessarily respectable. Tears fall, quite rightly, when we hear of the exploitation of sweat-shop workers, but when it's the blood, sweat, tears and other bodily fluids of people in porn at issue, we get told that it's not exploitation it's sexual freedom. Whose sexual freedom? Economic freedom for the porn industry, sexual and economic exploitation for the workers.

I've been told that people in the porn industry love it. It's their sexual freedom. If only. If only. If it were true, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this paper, I'd be off doing something else. This blog, and others like it, wouldn't be necessary. If people were having a great time, and the porn represented sexual liberation, this blog would hold links and podcasts and whatever else our boffins could come up with, accessing nothing but porn. If people were being filmed having sex, or trainspotting, or collecting badges, or reading, or doing whatever else turns them on, I wouldn't be protesting, I'd be cheering! But they're not. The vast majority of porn is a documentary of survival, of what people have to do to get by, to pay the rent, to get the bank manager or other heavy off their back. Porn is not sexual liberation, it's not freedom. But it looks like it. We view the photos and films, we masturbate to them, we have an orgasm. That's sex, isn't it? By definition, yes. But it's not sexual freedom, it's not sexual liberation, it's not freedom of choice. Not for the people in the films. They are acting. When they smile, they act. When they scream, they may be doing it for real. (. . .)

Erik Redburn

I saw a music video last night called "Fixin to thrill" by "Dragonette" which looked very much like an advertisement for child porn.  Some in the industry are truly sick.  You decide: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTR0lMxri5w


Within this interview, a porn industry veteran (Randy Spears) talks about gonzo porn as opposed to "feature porn" - it's really quite interesting, although obviously this guy is in mainstream porn, so take some of the interview for what it is - it's not critical of gonzo, exactly, and there isn't an ounce of feminist analysis to be had.  But I think it's interesting, the way he talks about the role of "real acting" (which he apparently does) in certain types of porn as opposed to others (like "gonzo"), etc.  And the fact that he finds gonzo "repulsive" personally.


The new kids on the block, they come in and actually whine about being on a feature set for more than a few hours of their day. I always laugh at them and say, “We pay you for [being here] all day. That’s your day rate. That means, you’re here until we’re done with you.” You’re not doing gonzo when you work for Wicked. You’re not in there and out in an hour. This is a movie. There’s some downtime, so bring a book!


SH: When it comes to gonzo versus features, you have the features guys such as yourself, Evan Stone, Stephen St. Croix, Barret Blade, etc. Then you have the gonzo guys. Why didn’t you do more gonzo in the past? Is there a stigma where if you’re known as a feature guy, if you do a gonzo, you may not be taken seriously as a feature guy?

Spears: Not necessarily. I think there’s a very distinct and separation between gonzo guys and feature guys. For me, there’s enough feature work that I didn’t have to do gonzo. So the feature companies were always calling me for work, so it kept me busy. I did do gonzo, I have done some, certainly. I have no problem with that. But I think the newer generation of guys that have come into our business, they’re not real good actors. Nor do they want to be. I’ve touched on that before. They’re actually irritated of the fact that they have to come in and spend 19 hours on a set when they’re used to going in for almost the same pay, going in, knocking out a gonzo scene, and be in and out of there in two hours. They have the rest of their day open.


SH: How do you personally feel about gonzo? Do you watch gonzo yourself?

Spears: I actually don’t watch a lot of porno, period. I watch the stuff that we do at Wicked, of course. I watch some of the competition. I keep an eye out on what Paul Thomas does over at Vivid, and some of the bigger directors in regard to their feature stuff because that’s just more interesting to me to view. Some of the gonzo stuff is downright repulsive. I really find myself scratching my head going, “What is this, a competition to see who can shock the audience better?” Nine guys fucking a chick in the ass then sticking her in a goddamn garbage bin out in the alley after they’re done with her, is not erotic to me at all. But that’s just me. There will always be a market for the quadruple anal scene, but that’s not the world I live in. There’s nothing wrong with that. If that’s their expression of their art, then so be it. To me, I think it’s way more difficult to tell an interesting story, mixed in with erotic sex, than to just have a little handheld camera in your hand and have some girl gagging on nine guys’ dicks. I can shoot that with my head in my ass.

martin dufresne

Chris Hedges on The Current today, thanks Michael.


Kaspar Hauser

Yeah, I probably should have put that link in this thread rather than opening a new one.