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What the film tries to tap into is a kind-of shocking female, teenage-exploitation expose narrative, but, instead it uncovers a series of relatively normal, young, stupid and feckless teenagers looking for a way out of their middle-class suburban monotony.
What is supposed to strike you as something akin to sex trafficking (ie imposed drug addiction, systematic dehumanization etc etc) actually reveals an ever-more mainstream industry that has little compunction in playing to the natural vanities and naiveté of emerging female adults, sure, but yet never takes away their choice to leave or stay.
They are paid well, treated like human beings (with the agency and self-determination to board planes to unknown locations with a head full of dreams of being a 'porn star and the hopes of escaping their home town), yet the film still tries desperately to supplant this with a slow descent into infantilization of it's subjects.
The film does not hide that the high turnover of débutantes in this portion of the industry generally wields a 3-4 month cycle for each actress (after the realities of the trade-off of money for loss of reputation and damage to relationships become too much for them to bare, presumably) yet the narrative still implies the idea that it's anything but their own stupidity that has lead them to this.
Unfortunately for the film makers, everything seems 'above board'.
These girls are making 'bad' decisions, defying their parents wishes, wasting money instead of saving it, not thinking about the future or how their decisions effect their romantic life, and yet it's clear that they are having a lot of FUN! All you see is people freely having the liberty to do what hey want, when they want, getting paid and partying till the sun comes up. Seems alright really, doesn't it? It's almost as if it's what being young is all about - Making very bad mistakes through the endeavor of having a good time.
And that's the central dilemma here: How much responsibility do we place on young women to be accountable for all their free choices? The tone here suggests a mixed bag, dependent on the circumstances.
There is definitely an unspoken, Feminist finger being pointed at 'institutions of male power' here, who 'seek to manipulate women for sexual gratification', yet the women make A LOT of cash for their troubles. And as should be well known by now, women make a lot more than men as performers in this industry. Feminists watching this would be careful to invoke the 'wage gap' myth lest the reasoning be turned against them, for example. But, when society sees a woman 'giving' away her chastity so easily and having sex with many people, it suggests the woman is hurting herself. When a man does the same, he is hurting other people. This is patently sexist in itself, implying that women are not capable of making decisions for themselves or being self-reliant enough to learn from said mistakes.
The film does come to a shocking point somewhere towards the end when we see that the girls extended time in the industry means more and more offers that test the limits of their own bodily comfort and autonomy. 'Abuse Porn' is therefore somehow suggested as being the heart and soul of porn when it is allowed to reach it's natural limit, ie simulated rape. Not surprisingly the girls find it to be a step too far for their sensibilities to take. Quite right, I'd suggest, as the money to perform this stuff without having your 'heart in it' would never find a suitably high enough equation to deem it of any net benefit to my person-hood.
As many men will testify however, Porn is not a monolithic trove of played-out and video taped rape fantasies. It has thousands of strange, wonderful, tasteful, distasteful, Arty, disturbing and myriad permutations that bridge the full scope of the collective human desire for 'sex'. They do not ALL involve a form of quasi- consensual rape. Nor is 'Abuse Porn' as ubiquitous as this film suggests. Which leaves you wondering how 'neo-puritan' the film makers must be to be so naive about 'mens habits' as to paint it otherwise.
There are plenty of adult performers who are happy, well paid, professional, safe, intelligent, post-grad, up-standing citizens that chose Porn instead of a career in Science, for example, who DO NOT become the subject of porn documentaries. The film tries a little too hard to shame porn as an industry and in so doing, a lot of successful womens free choices to do something they love.
An average film which raises very important questions about female agency and male sexual desire.
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