After the last long rant about how ethical pornography should be the only pornography, it has occurred to me that I should probably share my personal rules for the making of good and healthy erotica. I wouldn’t want there to be any doubt that I am ready to walk the walk, after so vigorously talking the talk. So, without further ado, please enjoy my nudey film manifesto.
A big issue I have with modern, mainstream pornography is the total lack of narrative. I’m not saying every single film has to be two hours long with a standard three act structure, but even a five-minute set up could have more story, more honest narrative motivation than: “One day me and my friend were SO HORNY. It was then that I noticed that my friend’s step-brother was SO HOT. And then I went in the pool and he leered at me so me and my friend double BJ’d him.”
And that’s when they bother to give you a story at all. When you’re watching gonzo POV stuff it’s easy to think ‘Well, this is reality, it doesn’t need a story,’ but you’re actually being sold the laziest story of all. Some Producer/Director/Camera Op/Penis holding a GoPro asks some nineteen-year-old a bunch of tired questions to which she gives fake answers. A fake name, a fake age, a fake sexual history, a fake desire to be a porn star and a fake understanding of just how that experience is going to go. They’re as fake as those fake casting couches and fake “fake” taxi services. So, if even the “real” porn is fake, then we should at least put some time and effort in to quality fakery. Even a decade ago, the only “true” porn was made with handycams and leaked by wounded, vindictive exes. Now the “true” porn is monetised, faux girlfriend experience taking place on MyFreeCams, Snapchat and Onlyfans.
Sex is a messy, complex, complicated act and the motivations for involving yourself in it are, arguably, the most interesting part. When I show people fucking, I want you to believe they earned it, that it changed them, that their lives existed before it and continued after it.
If you go into production with the attitude that narrative is the most important thing, then the next thing that must fall by the wayside is the fetishisation of qualities and of individuals, or fetish in the place of genre. The BBWs, the big black cocks, the redheads, the traps, the MILFs, the GILFs, the bears, the twinks and every other tag for quick, optimised searching has to go. If the key to great porn is narrative, as I believe it to be, then the character should be played as written and as directed. It matters not at all that they are big, or small, or massively hung, or old, or young. If the actions and motivations of the character in the script do not preclude the casting of a talent that would have otherwise been a fetishized facsimile, go for it. There’s nothing wrong with fetish, but the commodification of type in porn production is at best reductive, at worst actually harmful. The most obvious example being that ‘Interracial’ is not a genre, it’s a casting choice. Come on.
It makes sense to give people a heads up if they’re getting some hardcore, forced, watersports, scat, BDSM, or other -actual- fetish content. But I think you can absolutely stop there. Making the title of your film ‘BBW MILFs Love Young Black Cock 17’ is an admission that your narrative is so weak that it is less important than your actors respective ages, dong colour and body sizes. And, frankly, there are better ways to goose your Google results.
Content awareness is social awareness
Porn’s oft-repeated criticism, that it is the power fantasies of underdeveloped male brains, was at least somewhat credible when we were dealing with the Vivid videos of yesteryear. Where every hot co-ed was only a flat tyre away from an explosion of bisexual nymphomania, and all you had to do was be the lucky soul who swung by with your tyre iron out. Today, the criticism that porn portrays unrealistic and dangerous representations of sexuality… Well… I mean it’s still not -totally- untrue, is it?
When you focus on narrative, you can spend your time creating realistic, healthy depictions of even the most extreme sex acts. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with, or any credible argument against, consenting adults exploring the realms of fetish and fantasy, both light and dark. Out there in the world is a person whose only turn on is the idea of a Eurasian professional golfer in a yellow polo shirt vomiting onto the back of an Italian chef, and I absolutely want that person to find (or better yet, commission) an adult video that can scratch that itch for them.
Where porn has historically misrepresented and warped the reality, the healthy ideal, of sexual relationships comes in the way it handles power dynamics. I choose, as a director, to depict strong, equal interactions between sexual partners, where sex is a positive, healthy experience. This is a personal choice. When I see porn, the sex education of choice for an entire generation, normalising the idea that it is appropriate, even desirable, for a situation where a step-father catches his step-daughter smoking to end in a facial… I just can’t understand it. This is not a condemnation of the industry as a whole. Porn doesn’t -have- to be realistic or responsible in its representation of sex, because at the end of the day it is not reality. It has the same moral deniability as video games and mainstream cinema. But I think there’s no harm in trying to be better.
The idea of sex as punishment, as barter, as a means of social or interpersonal domination could absolutely be seen less in porn. That clear lines of consent should be shown and respected. That socially irresponsible representations of pairings that would tear apart families or communities (step-familial, teacher-student, et al) can probably just be skipped all together without losing much in the way of quality content.
There’s more to this of course. I feel that ‘porn’ does its best work when it is not the genre, but instead works best as an ad-genre that can be attached to the front of others (porn-horror, porn-drama, porn-comedy, and so on). I think that the porn parody may be porn’s greatest cultural contribution. The porn is one of maybe three film areas where the idea of behind-the-scenes content is even remotely interesting. The list goes on. I managed to bang out a thousand words without getting through half of what I wanted to talk about; but, porn is the industry of the never-ending series, so let’s call this part 1.