Changes to the World of Porn

Photo by Nefarious1, edited heavily by me.

The world of porn is changing, dramatically, as we speak on many different levels. We’re talking about porn, publicly. We’re interacting with it more either as consumers or participants. When I say participant, I’m including a quick sexy phone picture sent to a lover. I’m talking about moonlighting as a cam girl or maintaining even a completely anonymous sex blog full of beheaded pictures. There are also several major things happening that are changing the way porn is produced. These things are all connected by the will o- the wisp root, “Sex Sells.”

We are in a recession. It’s not pretty out there. Everyone is counting their change, updating their resume, taking out a second mortgage, moving back into an apartment, moving back home, taking on an extra job, cursing the banks and wall street. I don’t have to tell you this. Floating above our heads is that magical phrase, “sex sells.” It’s a post-it note permanently attached to our frontal lobes. I think it’s a troublesome phrase if not an outright lie and I blame this prevailing notion as the main reason people still believe that sex work is illegitimate. It’s because we’ve all been told time and time again that it’s easy. It’s the old reliable thing to fall back on that requires little to no thought or effort. If you can’t think of something creative, just throw a pair of tits there. It will sell. When sex is on the table we are helpless to resist and we will open our wallets like hypnotized monkeys. We hate sex workers because we think they cheated. We can’t precisely name what it is they are cheating, exactly, but we don’t like it one bit. We “work” for our money, then there they are on their backs.

But an increasing number of people hear that message and rather than getting into an upset huff decide that if you can’t beat them, join them. The problem is, this thought emerges from the same place. People get into the sex industry and assume it’s all going to be easy. Every night, in thousands of homes across America, someone is going to look up from their pot of boiling pasta and decide they’ve had it. They’re tired of working that minimum wage job. They burned their hands on the espresso machine for the last time! But what can you do, exactly, to stop eating spaghetti (again) at home with a bottle of two buck chuck? PORN! That’s it, they’ll decided, I’ll make some porn. It’ll be easy. The money will come rolling in and they can finally have the mansion, the cars, and the high life of the big porn rollers.

Technology makes this pretty easy. Cameras, even really good cameras, aren’t hard to come by. Furthermore you don’t even have to buy film or have someone else process your film for you. It’s digital! No more embarrassing moments at the photo Kiosk. Webcams, Flip Cams, Phone Cams, Digital SLR’s…all kinds of new avenues into the easy money of the sexual gold rush. Clips4Sale opened up, you don’t even have to figure out how to accept money for your porn. Someone else will take care of that for you. All you have to do is turn on the camera, have an orgasm, and profit. There are a lot of people doing this and they are joined by more and more each day. You get to be the CEO of your own little venture and it doesn’t require any huge amount of capital, right? It doesn’t matter how good it looks because the people who watch porn just want to see the action, right? All you have to do is hope that your pick axe lands in the right place and you can strike it rich. It’s the great American entrepreneurial spirit inside of us all. Gold, oil, dot coms, pussy, a Las Vegas casino…we can all see that glimmer of luck just around the bend where all of your money problems from here to eternity can be solved in an instant.

So what I’m saying is, there is a lot of adult content being made right now. A lot. Unfortunately, a lot of people are finding out that their Clips4Sale site isn’t turning the profit they thought it would. Most people are making just about as much as they would if they had a garage sale and they’re also learning that it takes a lot more work than they thought. Sex doesn’t always sell as easily as people thought.

Another layer on this rich cake is the fact that people really don’t have to pay for porn any more. Porn guys are viewed as the lucky prospectors who own a gold mine that won’t ever give up on them so no one feels bad about torrenting porn. Yes, we are swiping music and movies and television left and right but there is a certain type of entitlement that people have with porn that they don’t for other forms of entertainment. The staving musician is a more noble character in our cultural mind than the starving pornographer. When I hear most people talk about torrenting their porn they do so in a very different way than they talk about torrenting music or cinema. It’s almost like a just punishment to the people who did it the easy way and then had the audacity to ask for money at all. On a smaller scale, there are tons and tons of Tumblr blogs that blatantly steal pictures. Forget giving credit, I see a lot of people outright removing water marks. Just because the person is naked in the photo does not remove the fact that the picture is intellectual property.

Porn is not a one way ticket to easy street these days. It’s a lot of hard work. Even if porn really makes the estimated 100 bazillion dollars each year, you have to ask yourself who as well as split how many ways? There is no singular porn profiteer sitting on a giant stack of money. The mob may have done so once, but they also had some fairly strict policies on who the competition could be. If the guy down the street started making porn in his garage, well then, you made him an offer he couldn’t refuse and initiated a business merger of sorts. Making good porn requires good filmmaking, period. Most people are not good film makers ergo most porn is not well made.

I don’t believe that we’re looking at the collapse of porn, not by a long shot. I do believe that the way porn is made will be changed forever. Change is difficult, though. There’s a lot of bitterness in the industry that things aren’t working the way they used to. More people are taking public transit to get to the big conventions.

I don’t know what the future is like, but despite the growing pains I welcome the potential for change. I’m excited  by the fact that people are recording their sex lives or making a performance part of their sex life. I like that we’re talking. As more and more people enter the porn industry then maybe people might be more open minded about what it means to do porn. I hope that as more and more people open up a sex blog, even if they only do it for a few months before leaving a dead link behind them, that they will be less judgmental if they stumble upon mine. Despite the profit decline for every single person in the industry, it’s some how normalizing. Porn used to be this mythical monolith that was untouchable by bad economies. The problem is, something untouchable is also unrelatable. I hope that that notion dies hard. Paradigm shifts do occur, cultural expectations do change.

I’m not much of a Pollyanna always seeing the ‘good’ in things, but I do think that it is possible. I’m not talking about the dawning of ‘feminist’ porn because that can be easily done in the packaging alone, we do that all the time. I want to see changes in the way that porn is produced. I think that we focus too much on the content as an indicator of how ethical a set is but that isn’t true, not by a long shot. A model may be smiling, happy, and touching herself softly and with great grace but that doesn’t mean a single thing about the set. A model can be screaming, writhing in pain, and bawling her eyes out but it can be an amazing supportive set that set the bar for ethics. You can’t tell from the content.

4 Comments

Filed under behind the scenes

4 responses to “Changes to the World of Porn

  1. Ari

    Not that I am an expert in any regard on this topic, but I wonder if at least some of the regard for porn being something “people don’t need to pay for” is a) a product of porn itself advertising “first 30 seconds free” and then “first minute free” or whatever, in an attempt to lure new customers, having backfired into this sentiment, and also reality, that plenty of porn really IS free. I can’t claim any sort of representative sample, but I got this answer a lot from friends when I inquired.
    b) the attitude that only “desperate” people have to pay for porn–like only “desperate” people pay for sex. A lot of the (small number of) men I’ve surveyed indicate that they view porn as something they “use when they don’t have access to a steady partner”, that it’s a substitute of lower quality and value, disposable, and so only the worst sort of depraved and socially inept individuals would actually pay for it. Again, like prostitution.

  2. Fistandantilus

    Well said, though I’d be a bit more pessimistic about a thousand Joe Blows giving the neighbor girl $50 for a shoot leading to better ethics overall. Here’s hoping!

  3. Pingback: Quote: Maggie Mayhem on recession-era pornographers and why people resent sex workers | maggpdx

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