|Index||6 reviews in total|
It'd be far too simple to make a film condemning the pornography
industry as a whole; instead this film delves into the political and
economic issues which have directed the most profitable form of
entertainment to begin including violent and degrading acts to continue
making profits as other themes in pornography have been exhausted.
First and foremost, I think it's essential to note that this film does not condemn pornography or sexuality in any form but rather it is questioning why within recent years the industry has been incorporating degrading acts as "shock factor" as new form of commercialized sex for the consumer to want to purchase. If anything, this film looks more into why this industry is striving to re-invent itself in anyway possible because of how ridiculously profitable it is. However, the shift in pornography toward including more violent acts is often at the expense of the performers (some acts are painful to perform, others can be risky health-wise).
The film also notes that the movement of pornography into the mainstream is no accident. Considering the vast revenues pornography produces, it's no surprise that the industry has been using their profits to have Capitol Hill remove restrictions on what types of films can be produced. I found this especially disturbing considering a lot of the legislation that had been revoked dealt with issues surrounding child pornography or the usage of young looking actors and actresses to portray children in sexual situations.
Overall, I think that this film doesn't condemn pornography but rather encourages people to be educated consumers of pornographic material. I didn't leave this film going "all pornography is evil!", but rather thinking about the impact certain themes in pornography has had on our culture and sexual behavior.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a work with a bias. Like every single production of its kind
(called documentaries but they are usually propaganda) it is based on
questions and presumptions concerning a subject. Whether someone loves
or hates a work like this is unfortunately going to be tied to whether
he/she shares a similar bias. Outcries of "no objectivity" are relevant
but do not constitute a valid reason to condemn what is a very small
voice in a vast arena of contrary views.
In the United States there is a predominant perspective of female objectification (presenting women as surface allure/eye candy) and masturbatory fantasy for profit as positive (or at best not negative) things. Both sexual objectification and pornography have been integrated into the mainstream of all media in some direct form or implication. And evidence does exist that objectification/pornography can have a harmful influence. The evidence is as scientifically sound as the evidence upon which many people use to advocate the theory of Natural selection. The only difference is that the physicality of mind is less obviously tangible than, say, a fossil. You can't pick up and touch a mental disorder or disease.
My own personal bias is that the idea of questioning pornography and its role in society is so utterly obscene to so many people because it seems to attack an intimate region of the mind which has been conditioned and encouraged by media influence from the dawning of individual consciousness. You can't take your children to the supermarket without them being exposed to sexualized images. It is impossible to raise children as functional social creatures without the risk of them being exposed to all manner of extreme and degrading (or "kinky") content. Parental responsibility is not some conveniently easy thing in a society where the rule is commerce and free expression to the expense of public health.
It is remarkable how otherwise intelligent people will use irrational arguments to justify what in essence amounts to exhibitionistic desire and selfish profit. Even the ideology of free speech has been thoroughly distorted to represent the insurance of pornographic public expression over societal respect and health. There is no logical argument in support of pornography that doesn't delve into the exact same territory of speculation and assumption as the standing ground of those who condemn it. A balanced view is one that exists in between these areas of thought. Those who love pornography and those who hate it are not in a position to discuss it objectively because they have something to risk in admitting possible healthy or unhealthy aspects.
The problem is that this work represents a tiny spark of questioning in an sea of advocation. There is no balance. The very act of questioning something so embedded in our culture is condemned in ignorance of this fact. Women are being taught as children to "get in touch with their inner whore" and recognize that the primary strength of femininity is based on male weakness or chemical compromise. This is happening. The fantasy is that so many proponents of freedom are enslaved to irrational desires justified by straw man arguments, like the ever popular "If you watch or enjoy pornography you endorse it". As if people who use heroin reveal some objective truth which supersedes any questioning they may have of the drugs effects. And the reality of aggression and sexuality as a biological precept to pornography is irrelevant because pornography is a dislocated result of biology with aspects unrelated to our basic nature. There is no chicken or egg problem here as it is obvious that art both imitates and influences life.
One person in the film speaks of having no shame in the prospect of his productions influencing people to do unhealthy ("evil") things based on his belief that such a thing is not possible. But this is a belief based in the realm of convenience and selective intelligence. If you don't want to believe you are responsible, you won't be (at least in your mind), though this has nothing to do with truth. The truth is that the questions brought up in this work are dismissed at the expense of public health. And pornography is not a private issue between consenting adults; it is a public industry with societal influence. Male arousal of female abuse or degradation is a direct theme of some of the most popular pornography (all of the performers promoted in American Apparel advertisements are routinely involved in extreme and abusive acts) and it is being fed to the masses with little restraint or acknowledgment of even the possibility of negative effects. Run blind with something based solely on personal desire and you run others under your wheels. The core argument here is not whether humans are selfish and sexually unhealthy but to what degree such things should be endorsed in the name of freedom.
I endorse this work with hesitation because it is often blatantly prejudiced (dark ambient music playing over slow motion shots of men staring at a woman displaying herself sexually). Its too bad that the film even uses such tactics because the reality is disturbing enough on its own. There is also far too much extreme content on display (with digital blurring as if this is actually protecting anyone who would be offended by such content) for the work to not wax hypocrisy. These rather glaring issues aside there is a socially important message herein. I would suggest the Frontline show titled American Porn as an alternative viewing experience for those who find The Price of Pleasure to heavy handed (though the Frontline show is more about the industry itself rather than its effects on society).
This is an incredibly ignorant, reactionary film. Sometimes porn shows
bad stuff, so porn is bad, and then it flirts with the tired old
fallacy that watching something makes people do it. That's as deep as
the movie bothers to go.
The most entertaining part is the interviews with people who have their faces blacked out to hide their identities and ominous music playing as they confess that pornography inspired them to do horrible things such as... anal sex! Gasp! Really pathetic.
The film confuses the issue of BDSM with the issue of watching sex, and confuses the issue of watching sex with the issue of sexuality being commodified. It comes from a place of obvious ignorance about the porn industry and human sexuality in general, and yet proposes to commentate on both.
It also conflates BDSM with misogyny, and in doing so is a disservice to the actual problem of violence toward women. The movie can't tell the difference between hatred of women and consensual power play during sex, which is a complicated issue and can have a huge numbers of different scenarios, and can be done for any number of different reasons on the part of either partner. They make any type of BDSM as being a manifestation of male hostility toward women, and ignore that all of the same scenarios play out in gay pornography. They don't make any attempt to understand why scenarios of empowerment might be popular in pornography or sex in general, and when they make it all about men vs. women they also don't make any attempt to examine the larger social issues that might be at play which result in women often being subservient in our culture, not just during sex.
It also fails as a piece of documentary filmmaking. It makes no real attempt to present more than one side to the subject. For the pro-porn side they seem to have spent all of an hour or two at a porn convention shoving cameras into the faces of some random individuals until they said something that made them look silly, and then moved on. They don't have anybody articulate discuss it, or anybody who seems to be any kind of expert on sexuality. If it was a better film and had been edited well, they might have zeroed in on misogyny as their topic and tried to explore the issues that lead to violence toward women in general, but as is typical, they say Oh look, there's the thing we don't like in this video, if we take away this video it'll go away.
Porn didn't invent human sexuality, it's a reaction to it. There was also violence among humans before video games, believe it or not. And if it never occurred to you that anal sex was possible before you saw a porn video of it, or you had never heard of any type of basic BDSM before, then you've got some serious issues about repression and sex that you need to work through, and you might look toward your deep ignorance as a reason that you feel sexually unfulfilled, rather than the fact that you saw a video of something and then felt unnerved after. And if you've got issues with sex like that, then you probably shouldn't consider yourself qualified to make a documentary on the subject of sex, or to be a talking head commentator in one.
I first want to say that I was really interested in what the
description of this movie was selling. A well-reasoned, objective look
to the impact of pornography on our society. There are zealots on
either side of the issue and I was hoping to see a doc which would
forgo the emotion and hyperbole and stick to facts.
This is not that movie. If you are skeptically-minded and you want to get an idea of just the negative aspects of pornography on our society, you should watch this movie and take most of it with a grain of salt. There were some good, seemingly objective studies featured in this film and some well-reasoned arguments against many aspects of pornography. I appreciated that.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of the commentators on this documentary speak in terms of anecdotes or personal philosophy against pornography. The supporters of pornography and their comments seem to be cherry- picked to appear unsavory, infantile, etc. The narration and the flare is very clearly meant to condemn.
The main reason why I gave this documentary 4 stars is because I feel that documentaries with such evident bias that are described as an intellectual inquisition into a topic are an insult to the viewer's intelligence. The viewer isn't dumb. Unless the viewer wants to see an issue heavily skewed to one side, they *know* when they are being misled. The filmmaker's bias is so blatant in the content of the film that the description ceases to describe the film and instead makes the film out to be propaganda.
This doc could have been so much better.
What I liked in the film was clear evidence of the obvious, built-in
misogyny which exists in pornographic expectations, from filmmakers and
performers (erotically charged & unconscious self-loathing) to the
consumers (expecting images matching the fantasy of unbridled,
orgiastic, available flesh - "they look like they love it!").
What I didn't like was the simplistic idea that the practice of porn creation is the cause of societal ills, not an effect. I believe that porn is an expression of an existing condition. We are a sexually dysfunctional world with often pathological expectations of women. For sexual addicts, porn provides a toxic promise of a permanent state of arousal. For the dangerously antisocial, it can provide dark inspiration, certainly. But for the rest of mankind it represents what's already there - fantasy prostitution, visualized. What drives people to engage in commercial sexuality, either in service or as a client is no different than it is for those engaged in porn.
It's not just about money; it's also about the personal history of those who need a heightened sexual expression and are willing to risk their mainstream dignity to achieve it. What would be more interesting to explore is how the price of commercial sexuality is often not merely one's very brief youth, but also one's emotional health and lifelong financial well-being.
I wish the film were more circumspect about the personal histories which drive or lure individuals into this field.
As someone who likes a solid documentary that provides an objective
look at both sides of the argument, and a lover of those kinds of
films, as well as women in general, I can honestly say this
propo-mentary of steaming crap is just that...crap. I saw a preview
version of this documentary earlier today, and it annoyed me so much I
had to spill my woman hating/degrading guts about it. Or so this flick
would have have you think that's what my guts are made of, being a
red-blooded male who played high-school sports, lost his virginity at
16, and fell in love for a couple years with another amazing woman.
I love porn, and if you're a guy reading this, you at least LIKE porn. Stop denying it to the chick sitting next to you...STOP IT! Being single for a while now (like a WHILE NOW!), and being a good looking, testosterone-filled 23 year old with an education, I have to wonder. I must wonder what kind of people, in the year 2009 (2008 and probably 07 and 06 in which the film was made) would make a film like this.
If you don't know anything about the porn industry, and you don't know much about women, and finally you know nothing about the human condition and the basic business model then this movie is just right for you! It will have you thinking like a generally ignorant, pseudo-lesbian, farrrr right conservative in no time! There are a lot of elements that make a good documentary, and this film has none of them, short of an above average soundtrack. The "facts" are way off base (to the tune of Farenheit 9/11 times 2), the content is grossly mis-represented, and the message preaches occurrence of abuse. There are so many positive things about expressing all forms of sexuality, kinky and/or degrading or not. Stating that women are degrading themselves in porn is just as much a fantasy as the most degrading porn.
For every role or situation a pornography director/producer creates, a talent is there to fill the role. After an AIDS test every thirty days or less, a meet and greet, a discussion of what the scene will be like, an agreement on price, a personal agreement between 2 or more performers and a director on what is on/off limits, a 3hr+ wait time to set up a shoot, it is sad that a willing woman is obviously forced into these acts for money /sarcasm
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