Sunday, November 11, 2012

Inevitable Convergence Of Porn And Reality TV

Playboy TV is casting for a brand new comedy game show called "The Man" We are currently looking for attractive males and females ages 21-30 who are comfortable with on camera nudity and possible sexual interactions. Men will be competing to prove to women that they have more "game" than the other contestants. Pay for women is $500-$700 for the day. There is the possibility of females being used on more than one episode. Pay for males ranges anywhere from $300-$600 depending on which round they are eliminated.
Compare and contrast: PG Porn, porn-style short films without the sex; a reality show about porn stars raising children; what appears to a be "Loveline meets the Internet!" show called Love In The Time Of Robots; and an actual person having sex with an actual robot (NSFW).


The above was posted in July 2012. The show appears to be live.

I'm actually very curious what effect the widespread availability of Internet porn will have on film in general. In the 1920s, people were making porn; by the 1950s, censorship had completely crushed porn. When it came back in the 1960s and especially the 1970s, it was part of an overall sea change in cultural attitudes around sex, influenced to no small degree by the sudden availability of chemical birth control.

At that time, almost nothing except nudity and actual sex differentiated porn films and "real" films. Last Tango In Paris could be categorized as either one with equal validity. Today, porn actors are not "real" actors. Porn films are filmed differently, distributed differently, and only a few filmmakers (either "real" or otherwise) have taken it upon themselves to regard porn as cinema.

One notable exception comes in Mike Judge's Extract, where a paranoid husband allows a friend to persuade him that the best way to find out if his wife wants to cheat on him is by dangling temptation in front of her:





By incorporating a visual style reminiscent of porn, Judge implicitly acknowledges here that pornographic film is film. This fairly obvious fact is very conspicuous by its absence in the field of film criticism. I strongly suspect that failing to regard pornographic film as a type of film constitutes some type of ghettoization of sex. It's especially strange when you contrast it with how French film treats sex.

The exploitation aspects of Playboy's The Man series are obvious, but what's interesting is that its pornographic aspects make it nominally less respectable in American culture than its "legitimate" cousin in "real" reality TV, Jersey Shore, which is well-known for an episode where a girl gets punched in the face. Neither show is awesome in my opinion, but it's strange to me which one is labelled more respectable (albeit by a very thin margin).

It's possible that this hierarchy of respectability, where violence is acceptable but sex is not, operates like a semiotic poison. I also find it very interesting that the two periods most associated with increased availability of porn in the United States -- the 1920s and the late 60s/early 70s -- also saw substantial increases in female political power. I really doubt it's any kind of coincidence; consider, for example, that Islamic and Christian fundamentalists, who both seek to restrain female sexual expression in their respective cultures, are also united in their antagonism not only to female political power, but also to men who act feminine. Robert Anton Wilson wrote an excellent book about this (and originally wrote it for Playboy, in fact).

However, the issues are so far from decided that you could build an entire academic career on arguments for either side, so I'm not going to tackle that here. But insofar as my blog has any theme at all, Internet entertainment which may in some way reshape or alter society has got to qualify, so I think this is an interesting trend. Porn disappeared completely in the 1950s and is now everywhere. It's highly unlikely that this will not either exert some transformative effect on society, or reveal some transformative dynamic already in operation.