Saturday, May 27, 2006

A cursory glance at "mainstream" porn

Took this from the comments box two doors down; it seemed worth a post in itself, since we've been talking about it for a while here and elsewhere.

I was in my friendly local indie video store the other day (bought myself the Little Britain series 1, woo hoo! can't wait till they get the second in). Unlike Blockbuster, they do rent hardcore porn, a whole back room's worth (also some softcore "erotica," gay and straight, and animated porn, in the main room). I decided to have a gander just to see if, indeed, things looked very different from the way AH/GR were describing the average breakdown of what's available (that is, vanilla vs. hardcore "violent" porn).

So, okay. I should've taken notes (haw! would've loved to see another customer's reaction as I did...) But the breakdown, roughly:

Front few shelves: Andrew Blake (glossy, reasonably "soft" stuff, pretty-pretty, in the mode of Playboy Channel or a more explicit Zalman King). Some racks devoted to favorite stars and directors, same as they have in the main store (Bergman, Bette Davis). Here: Rocco (famous Italian stud), Bella Donna, Jenna Jameson, some others I'm not as familiar with. Nina Hartley, of course.

Going farther back:

A shelf or so of "interracial" (which seems mostly to mean black on white), and various "ethnic" subgenres (all-black, including one hosted by Snoop Doog, and some Asian, which unlike the all-black vids and more like the interracial seems heavily skewed toward pleasing white fantasies of other-raced stereotypes. on the whole, off the cuff, imo and based on my sightings of such subgenres elsewhere). "BBW" or however they were terming it there, probably more vulgarly: women with some meat on their bones, is the gist.

Moving right along: specialty tapes: "gonzo" (no plot, "wall to wall" sex); all-girl (of course); anal sex ("buttman"); mildly fetishy stuff like stockings or latexwear; and our favorite, facial cumshots.

I think I saw maaayyybbeee three or four covers that indicated a nod to leather or kink. Including "Fashionistas," one of the few I've seen recently and one of the rare few "mainstream" porn flicks to have BDSM acts and hardcore sex, both. For the most part, you know, you cannot these days have both BDSM and penetrative "vanilla" sex in the same movie; it's one or the other. Don't remember where that comes from (need to look that up), whether it's an actual U.S. or state(s) law or whether it's a self-rpotective move by the industry; all I know is, that's far and away the way it is. (Indie stuff, esp. on the Internets, is something else, of course) "Bisexual" porn, which differs from "straight" porn in that unlike in the latter, man-on-man is okay in a mixed threesome or moresome, as opposed to just woman-on-woman. Not a whole lot of those.

Then the back half of the store, which was pretty much all gayboy porn (the video store is queer-owned and there's a heavy representation in the non-porn section as well). Which also seems to have its own subgenres: interracial, certain fetishy looks like military (I think), "shemale"/tranny porn, others. On the whole I'm a lot more familiar with indie lesbian visual porn (which by and large they don't carry there; you have to go to Babeland or some such)

A quick gander at the back of some covers seems to confirm: hetporn: no protection in sight, anal, vaginal, anything. Gay porn: at least in some shots of anal intercourse, the condom is clearly visible. And everyone's shaved (straight and gay, male and female), and everyone's coventionally pretty, and while the women aren't overall quite as skeletal-looking as they are in yer average fashion rag, there is definitely a certain...aesthetic...dominating, no doubt.

In short: same ol, same ol'. Rife with creaky sexist, racist, heterocentric, fat-phobic, and god knows how many other reactionary drippings from the overall zeitgeist, absotively. Often made in dodgy and frankly unsafe conditions that could probably use a good union or six, no doubt. But is it "horrific," as some woman at the recent Dworkin commemorative asserted? shrug. Not to me. I mean, depends what you consider "horrific," but: no meat grinders. No broken, bloody noses and bruises. No one getting killed.

In fact--you know where I see much more of the latter two? You know all those "softcore" quasi-noirish movies that Blockbuster and a lot of yer teevee after-hours channels seem to like so much? The ones that have shit like "sin" and "obsession" in the title, and always seem to end with some beautiful stripper or suchlike either getting murdered or being a murderer or both? I find those a lot more disturbing than most of the mainstream hardcore shit, myself. Isn't it interesting that the former, with their lack of actual depicted genitalia or oral sex or whatnot but plenty of dead women, are O.K., right up front and center in the big video chainstores; but the latter, many of which are pretty much just people gettin' it on pure and simple, if explicitly, are relegated to the back room of the indie joints?

How else to interpret this, if not as *sex IS dirty and dangerous, really?*

22 comments:

pornstudent said...

Thanks for researching the back room. You're right, the front room is where the violent stuff is.

If someone uses the word "horrific" to describe porn, how would they describe the real horrific stuff; like the planned murder of thousands of people or purposely getting people addicted to a carcinogenic? I'm less likely to take people seriously when they talk in extremities to make a point. If they don't think they are exagerating, then they should think about your survey or have a look for themselves.

Anthony Kennerson said...

I'd guess that for most antiporn feminists, the sexually explicit stuff would be considered more dangerous precisely because it features sex as a "tool of the patriarchy".

Heck, I'd bet that they would find a picture of a woman spread eagled and showing off her naughty bits to be far worse, simply for attracting and inciting the evil of male lust.

No bit of real logic can change their minds or their biases...so why even bother???


Anthony

belledame222 said...

Well, I am going on the theory that there is a fair diversity within the "antiporn feminist" crowd, even as with everyone; so I'd be more interested in individual answers in that regard.

If no one steps up to the plate, of course, that is another issue.

in other news: I am a "fraud," "not a feminist," and all about making the Mens happy, it would seem (and: "belledamned"). my first show-me-your-creds flame! I'm so proud (snif).

funnily enough, it came about not after one of my snarkier comments, but after a chain of what I thought were fairly reasonable attempts to engage with actual links and citations 'n' stuff. and a question which, again, funnily enough, never got answered.

o well.

witchy-woo said...

Heck Anthony, if you acknowledge that you know so little about radfem politics how come you feel so entitled to know what an anti porn fenminist's reaction would be? Cripes.

Mmmmm - pretty selective links and citations belledamme, if you ask me. And we can all do that. I'm a 'horses mouth' kinda gal - if you know what I mean - still, glad to be one of your firsts.

I'm just pleased to make 'in other news'....

belledame222 said...

Oh, hello. Say, can you play "Melancholy Baby," by any chance?

belledame222 said...

oh, w-w, what I had asked you over there was pretty straightforward:

What is the name of the "PR firm hired and funded by the pornographers" that MacKinnon alludes to, the one that apparently made up the "lies" that deluded fools like myself and the people I've been citing seem to believe,( more specifically, the ones supporting the position that yes, there were some grounds to be alarmed that her work was helping the agenda of the Religious Right, not actual women at all)? Here are some possible responses:

1) Yes, you were right, she did mean FACT
2) No, you, fool, that's not it at all. Here's MY cite from MY research (perhaps indeed including from "the horse's mouth," if not some other part of its anatomy, if you prefer) saying that THIS is what she meant:
3) I don't know.

Abort, Retry, Ignore?

Bonus points for doing it without imploding this time.

Alon Levy said...

W-W, you don't need to know about radfem politics to argue with anti-porn people and get horrified. I knew that the US had a pernicious Dominionist movement trying to ban every behavior and belief it didn't like years before I read about postmillennialism vs. premillennialism and the rest of the Religious Right's quirks.

belledame222 said...

ohman. post vs pre and all that--that's worth a discussion in itself, one I've been meaning to get to and will do as soon as I've disentangled myself a bit from this one/it comes to a natural close for the time being.

yeah. I'm still kicking myself for not writing up the notes I took at the conference examining the Religious Right and its influence on U.S. politics for the past few decades last year. still have 'em, but they're far from fresh.

belledame222 said...

at any rate, I do believe Anthony is more than passing familiar with radfem politics, or at least some of its effects on the stuff he (and I, and others) care about, historically; but, I'll let him speak for himself, as he's amply capable.

belledame222 said...

(oh, Bitch | Lab: where art thou, with thy Research Fu of Death?)

Bitch | Lab said...

You know, I'm so sock of the radfem heterosexist bullshit.

i USED to think we needed a new word for sex positive. fucket. it's sex positive all the way baybee.

as for research, i gots a load of books from the library, including one juicy one edited by Drucilla Cornell that promises to give us a tastee taste of the more mainstream feminist very critical of porn crowd. People who are wont to make _real_ arguments that make you think, not the folderol that most of the triped i had to slice through a couple of months ago.

what's with the "horse's mouth" comment from witchy-woo?

i haven't made it to reclusive leftist b/c i'm buried in book design right now. tedious little futzy stuff.

TG i love this client b/c this book has been a PITA!

BTW, funny story. same client and I got talking about something or other -- oh, that you can't much be pure under capitalism. i was talking about putting a bid on a job to design a site for a breast enlargement doc.

not that i have anything against breast enlargement per se. Anyway, she said, "Oh, people who want bigger boobs should get them, damn it. If it floats their boat, good for them. I have big boobs. There should be more of them. Boobie Feminism, I say! "

Love this woman. Did I say that!?

Bitch | Lab said...

I'm so sock.

heh.

ass.

"I'm so sick." SICK!

belledame222 said...

>what's with the "horse's mouth" comment from witchy-woo?

I'd say, ask her, but she might explode again, and I just finished mopping in here.

The horse in question would appear to be Catherine MacKinnon; as I understand it, I am supposed to take it on faith that because when she saw Catherine, live! she, Catherine, HErself, said (from her own three lips!) that the business about she and Dworkin being allied with the Religious Right was a bunch of lies put forth by a "PR firm funded by the pornographers." I checked the transcript, wanting to know who that PR firm was supposed to be; not clear from the context (Q & A after the Assiter talk). I did some poking around. Oh! i said. You don't suppose she meant Feminist Anti-Censorship Task-Force (FACT), do you, by any chance? 'cause, whoa, that characterization would be quite the distorted slant as I understand it.

-crickets-

Okay, I said, given all the reading stuphs I'm amassing here, I'm gonna assume that's probably what she did mean, unless I hear otherwise.

She got kind of cranky, then. I guess it -was- something I said. Tsk.

belledame222 said...

(oh, that was over at paleofem's, btw)

Bitch | Lab said...

Thanks for the backgrounder.

and, PS, witchy-woo wasn't one of the women on the Women's Studies List. Rather, since you'd suggested I go read a thread at paleofem and I had to read *that* i figured you'd enjoy reading the "malestream" nice-nice feminism stuff from the Women's Studies List. *grin*

Anthony Kennerson said...

@ W-W:

"Heck Anthony, if you acknowledge that you know so little about radfem politics how come you feel so entitled to know what an anti porn fenminist's reaction would be? Cripes."

Really, W-W??? It's not any entitlement on my part, my dear; it's basic FACT stemming from years and years of debating antiporn "leftists" and reading up on your side of the fence.

And I know enough about radical feminist politics (including the very fact that many of those that use the title do not always follow (and in some cases, even totally rejects entirely) antiporn feminist positions. But since YOU apparently know so much more than I do that you feel free to promote your position as THE ONE AND ONLY "radfem", let alone, feminist, position (actual reality to the contrary), maybe I should bow my head and yield to your superior logic. Or not.

And I was specifically talking about antiporn feminists, not "radical feminists" as a whole; for that very reason I cited. But, hey, if the shoe fits too comfortably....

BTW...the correct answer to Belle's question is indeed (A)..not to mention that MacKinnon also referred to the women of FACT as "Oreo cookies" and "house n-ggers" and Dworkin has publically dismissed their anticensorship activism as "a litany to the penis".

Damn....and I almost wanted to like Violet Socks....hummmph.


Anthony

belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
belledame222 said...

well, wait, Violet's not said anything new here that I know of; I was responding to her primarily wrt a personal button that got tapped (and apparently stayed indented) a while ago (which it would have been better had I just said so at the time, probably). My stuff, as much as anything else. It's not my intention to shame VS here, honestly; I probably didn't handle that well. Most of the current shit that set me off at her site was in the comments section. Mostly it's just a cumulative effect from the constant fresh thrashes; I've been on simmer for a while.

yeah, I had been posting the "house nigger" business as part of the quotage over at paleo's; that was what led me to figure that MacK was referring to FACT now, since she'd been so sneery of it before.

"They're all out to git me."

poor, put-upon Kitty. how many feminists and civil libertarians was it who signed on to FACT? sixty, eighty? including a number of radical feminists(Adrienne Rich, among others), as well as a number of prominent liberal feminists. One would have hardly guessed such a thing from her casual toss-off as "a PR firm hired and funded by the pornographers." Spreading lies. "They" were, that is. Hokay.

and the word of the day, boys and girls, is "projection." Can you say "projection?" I knew you could!!

B | L: figured that might be the case, afterward. not that it matters much wrt my impression of either at this point, honestly...

Veronica said...

Oh, the gay subgenre wall frequently has an outright sense of humor. All the "types"? Vampires, cops, nutty professors, goofy toungue in cheek Crocodile Dundee walkabouters, wrestlers, pizza boys, plumbers, Haitian zombies. You name it, there's a video out there.

Dan L-K said...

"Bisexual" porn, which differs from "straight" porn in that unlike in the latter, man-on-man is okay in a mixed threesome or moresome, as opposed to just woman-on-woman. Not a whole lot of those.

And almost none of them any damn good. Porn aimed at bi men is, weirdly enough, usually even more dumb and formulaic than the "mainstream" stuff. It's as though the great lumbering pornography machine, when it got around to us, had entirely run out of its already dwindling supply of creativity; I swear you could set your watch by the changes.

(Or so my admittedly limited experience has it. I may just be looking in the wrong places.)

belledame222 said...

Yeah. You-do-this-to-me-two-three and I'll-do-this-to-him-to-three and...

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