I am a documentary film director. Subjects of my films have included love, sex, 9/11, indigenous fisheries, hurricanes, refugees, HIV/AIDS orphans, and visualization of God. I am best known for the Real People, Real Life, Real Sex series of documentaries that simultaneously explore the vital role of sexual pleasure in committed relationships and the problematic place of explicit sexuality in cinema. This is my "Safe" blog.

Audacia Ray says you can’t understand pornography without understanding the business of pornography

Posted: June 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

From Audacia Ray’s WakingVixen.com:

Both sides [pro-porn and anti-porn] are all over the sexuality and representation aspects of the conversation, but are missing a critique of the business of sex and the working conditions under which porn performers do their jobs. To me, good and bad porn is not so much about what it looks like, but the business transactions and pressures happening behind the scenes.

This approach is appeals to me because it offer the hope of delivering hard data; i.e. defining what pornography is is hard enough (there is no legal definition,) and without a substantive definition based on content and aesthetics, measuring the effect on viewers seems like a fool’s errand.

But other aspects can be measured: production budgets, performer wages, distribution outlets, STI infection rates, union membership rolls, etc. And if direct comparisons to statistics in other forms of media, other professions, or other ways of life are imperfect, at least the numbers might provide a starting point for a stab at some measure of objectivity.

And whatever case one is trying to make – pro, anti, or other – that’s got to be better starting point than “this is bad because looking at it makes me angry” or “you can’t prove that watching this is hurting anyone.”

(Cross-posted to The Art & Business of Making Erotic Films)

2 Comments on “Audacia Ray says you can’t understand pornography without understanding the business of pornography”

  1. 1 Fad23 said at 3:27 pm on June 11th, 2010:

    In all of my years of studying pornogrpahy, this is really the first time I’ve read this being suggested. It’s sort of an exciting thought that porn can be measured in ways outside of the purely subjective. I’m not sure why I feel a little wistful for the pioneer spirit of the indie or no-budget production in this light. Am I seeing that wrong?

    Welcome back to the blogosphere!

  2. 2 TonyComstock said at 8:54 pm on June 11th, 2010:

    Hello Fad, and welcome to the Kōan of Silence! It’s great to have you aboard.

    Since you’ve asked if “your seeing it wrong” I’d like to reach in and make one adjustment to your comment. My working theory is that once you start parsing the question from the point of view of economics, the construct of “pornography” reveals itself to be a simple construct of power and privilege, offering no useful insight into the way that erotic images work on us as art.

    Or something like that.

    Like I said, so glad to have you aboard!


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