First, I know quite a few readers follow my sex blogging at Fleshbot, and this week (8/22-8/26) I’ve been released from the fleshy dungeon so I can work on a book and generally make trouble; you’ll see a lot more of me around here as I’ll be tidying and updating Tiny Nibbles (read: procrastinating my book deadline). And now that I finally have my voice back after my awful flu, I’ll be podcasting again, yay!
Of course, this also means I’ll be getting to the big pile ‘o porn screeners that have been accumulating next to my TV. There are some that look really good; I’m excited in many ways to get back to the grind. (sorry) Part of my porn break has been about time issues, but I also needed to take a little break for another reason. After 8 years of professional porn reviewing I wasn’t getting burned out, but I did see some porn that really, really turned me off. As a reviewer I’ve always managed to avoid watching porn that I know I won’t like; for instance I know there are a few pornographers who make really rough, brutal porn and are openly misogynistic. That might be okay, or even satisfy a need with the performers, and everyone makes their own decisions, and I can’t really assume anything about anyone I don’t know, but I know it’s not for me or my readers, so I skip it. On the other hand, I don’t like softcore, or what the porn industry passes off as “couples’ fare” which is usually fake romance crap and full of gender stereotypes — and I often feel the same way about “feminist, woman-made” porn, where you’ll never see spankings or kinky sex.
But for the past few years it’s been increasingly difficult for me to find a mainstream porn DVD that doesn’t have some kind of sexual brutality in it — and I mean specifically sex acts, or acts in sex, that are typically practiced consensually in BDSM. Face-slapping, choking, bile-gagging, forced cocksucking, stretching orifices open in painful-looking ways… all fine stuff for adults who know about safety, safe words, master slave relationships, negotiation — people who *get* why this might be hot for someone who digs intense power exchange. See the difference? But lately it’s in every DVD, without context, as part of a senseless formula. And it’s not just getting old, but without context, and done between performers who often won’t even look each other in the eye in their effort to maintain their work-related detachment, it’s creepy. Plus, it all makes porn more difficult for me to talk about in my encounters with press and mainstream American media, who are already predisposed to think porn is evil.
Anyway, yesterday I had an email conversation about it with a prominent adult industry editor in regards to Michael Ninn’s new videos. This editor sent me some comments about Ninn’s new movies, saying that he thought they would be well-appreciated by the BDSM community. And I was relieved to finally hear someone openly acknowledge that these acts belong in an S/M context; this editor is a hardcore lifestyle BDSM practitioner with a live-in slave and he is also very involved in the BDSM community (especially in an educational context). For people who don’t know who Ninn is, let’s just say that he’s a very artsy porn director whose films look like glossy beautiful music videos, but whose performers and sex acts have always looked and portrayed the mainstream formulas, albeit with a kinky (though seldom truly transgressive) twist. Still, Ninn has a huge fan base and his films (in the past) have been sexually important for many viewers.
When I asked the editor if he liked one movie in particular he wrote: “Well….you tell me. I thought it was hot, yes, but…I dunno. In some ways I think it is brilliant, in some ways it makes me feel icky to be a man … I guess what I feel weird about is that I feel like I’m either a) talking about a phenomenon that everyone else in porn has already discounted, which will make me look stupid, or b) talking about the elephant in the middle of the room, which will make me look stupid and get me completely blacklisted.”
After I read the rest of his comments about how it’s BDSM without the paddles and leather, and that the sex acts can’t be just written off as simply sex taken to an extreme (but that BDSM people will love it), I wrote him: “what I thought? so not for me. I’m sick of unexplained brutality in porn, who so does not get S/M, and neither will most of the mainstream viewers. I think Ninn has short-shifted himself by a) not facing up to his true demographic which is the hardcore bdsm community, and shoots himself in the foot by making porn for such a small audience (who doesn’t know it’s intended for them). for the mainstream, that package looks pretty but the sex acts will certainly offend. all I have to say is thank fuck you put his work in a bdsm context. no one else is getting it.”
His reply was, “…..and then when I went and had to write something about them, I realized how completely I could never put my name on something that says, basically “huh, fuckin’ bitch gets abused, fuckin’ hot, huh huh, I love fuckin’ abuse, huh huh,” which is what I would have to say if I were to praise them.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the humiliation, etc…obviously I dig all that. It just disturbs the fuck out of me that attention is not called to it as such. More telling, I think, is the fact that increasingly this is what is offered as “porn.” Insofar as its content is addressed at all, it is offered as “edgy” porn or “extreme” porn. This is fucking SM!! Frankly, I think it is revealing that it would pretty much be beyond the capability of the porn world to do “extreme” or “edgy” porn that didn’t have a power exchange of some sort. Which is all just fucking fine — but where is the porn where women humiliate men? I don’t think I have EVER seen porn where a guy is face-fucked and told “Yeah, you like eating pussy, don’t you, you’re a pussy eating little wimp.” The closest that I’ve seen is guys being made to suck a dildo and treated like a “cocksucker” therefore.
Even if “extreme” or “edgy” porn just means power exchange….or BDSM….or rape…..which it probably does, at least that’s the easy answer…..then why is it always a young woman, a thirtysomething (or older) man, and *her* getting face-fucked until she almost pukes? Why doesn’t *he* ever get choked or spat on? I mean, like, EVER? Meanwhile, female BDSM professionals don’t fuck, and the few titles with dominant females always have punishment but no sex. ‘Cause women don’t like sex, right? Only the women who are being degraded would want to do something like that, or would like sex if it was “extreme” in any way. Put them in control?
I guess it is all just symptomatic of a larger disgust with my fellow human beings, both female and male. It is just all so fucking depressing. I am quickly becoming the Hubert Selby Jr. of facial cumshots, the Moliere of sleaze.
Anyway, thank you for helping me spew out some of my thoughts about this. It is good to hear that I’m not completely off base. … But Christ…I just can’t believe that people who write about the industry could be so dim as to treat something like as “hot” and “edgy” and not even begin to discuss what it reflects for, y’know, male-female relations and all that.”
Grainy photo: Chas Ray Krider
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