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Director Christina Voros and producer James Franco pull back the curtain on the fetish empire of Kink.com, the Internet's largest producer of BDSM content. In a particularly obscure corner of an industry that operates largely out of public view, Kink.com's directors and models strive for authenticity. In an enterprise often known for exploitative practices, Kink.com upholds an ironclad set of values to foster an environment that is safe, sane, and consensual. They aim to demystify the BDSM lifestyle, and to serve as an example and an educational resource for the BDSM community. In kink, we discover not only a fascinating and often misunderstood subculture, but also, in a career far from the mainstream, a group of intelligent, charismatic, and driven people who really, truly love what they do.Written by
One of the most ostensibly inhumane genres of pornography becomes the most humane
Christina Voros's Kink is an important documentary and one of the most significant films to profile the porn industry that I have yet to see. Rarely has a porn documentary been able to truly humanize an incredibly popular, albeit far-from-mainstream, genre of pornography, the performers who freely partake in the genre, the interworkings and ethics revolving around the genre, and, finally, the exhausted ideas of porn actively degrading and oppressing women. Here's a film that takes a topic for those who are squeamish and makes it so digestible that even they should be able to pause for a moment and listen to what the film has to say.
Kink profiles the website kink.com, one of the most successful and lucrative porn sites currently on the web. Kink specializes in three different kinds of fetish pornography: bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism including, but certainly not limited to, the use of cast-iron chains, leather suits, whips, industrial machines with long vibrators and dildos attached to an extended metal pole, and ropes. The website was started by a man named Peter Acworth in his college dormitory and has since become the leading provider in fetish entertainment since the inception of internet pornography. Before this, bondage - often referred to by the acronym BDSM - was largely segregated to the same magazines that glamorized other social taboos, such as swinging and interracial sex.
As an avid fan and viewer of pornography, I will admit that porn, no matter what site you frequent, is largely the same: same positions, same penetration, same actors with similar looks, and same story lines. All of this is true unless you visit the fetish websites (most of which are not for me). Fetish pornography's purpose is to explore the deepest taboos and sexual pleasures people didn't know they had; to leave all inhibitions at the door and explore the darker, more sinister side of human sexuality. Kink follows numerous art directors, film directors, and set designers as they recruit famous porn stars, such as Mr. Marcus, Phoenix Marie, and Francesca Le, to their website and inform them of the kind of sex scenes they are famous for. One particular scene involves casting director Maitresse Madeline showing a group of first-timers what BDSM entails. She explains how it's not pornography, so the only penis-fondling can be in a manner that's teasing or looks to be rather painful. "So you're going to beat me up?," the male talent bluntly asks Madeline. "No, we're going to make love to your butthole," Madeline boldly replies.
Kink.com has a strict code of conduct they pride themselves on in order to churn out not only the best content, but also the most ethical. Van Darkholme, one of the website's regular directors, states how he has always been about finding the person's reaction and not the porn star's. When Kink.com is filming its talent, they want the moans, grunts, and screams of the person and not the fake orgasms and noises common in pornography.
Some will inevitably ask, even after watching the documentary, why would people allow themselves to be degraded and tossed around like pieces of meat for the sake of pornography? For starters, Kink.com doesn't force or trick any of its members into being a part of their pornography. They firmly state that this content isn't for everyone, and they reiterate the fact that if people want to be sexually free they should have an outlet or a means be so. Several actors talk about a "euphoric state" the body enters when undergoing some of the treatment Kink.com has in store for them, where, often during orgasm, several human chemicals, such as dopamine and adrenaline, are released to give one's body a "natural high," sending them into a complete, almost out-of-this-world trance. The fact that something like that can bring a human being to such an other-worldly state is amazing and Kink is sure to emphasize the importance of not only the liberation of one's body and mind, but their entire sexual state of mind.
Inevitably, as the employees know all too well, there will still be the critics of the website and BDSM who say it does nothing but further objectify and degrade women like the pornographic industry has done since its inception. One Kink.com director brings up a fantastic point when addressing this; he states that it's difficult for people to understand that there are a group of women that need a sort of constant protection, yet there are also a group of women who lust after the attention and glitz the porn industry provides them. And, ultimately, if the porn is performed by consenting adults who understand the terms and want to partake in the sexual acts for entertainment and monetary compensation, why shouldn't they have the freedom to do so? If that still doesn't get you on board with the fetish movement, he goes on to state, he simply requests those people to admit that while the industry isn't for you, in particular, it is for someone out there.
Kink is not only a terrific documentary but a seriously important one because it finally addresses many of the issues that porn documentaries continue to dance around (coming up with a response to the numerous allegations of degrading and oppressing women), in addition to shedding light on one of the entertainment form's most successful genres since its inception on the internet. It shows the humans behind the scenes of your average fetish porn shoot, and how, for pornography that can be described as some of the most inhumane, it might be one of the most humane.
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