The Hypocrisy of Hollwood as a Model for American Society

For those unaware, the porn industry has gone in a humorous direction in recent years and parodies have become a popular sub-genre. Porn versions of The Avengers, Batman and Cheers have all made their way into the market. It’s a sign of an industry still diversifying in an attempt to survive in the Internet Age and an industry that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Amazingly all of these parodies, which are strikingly similar to the original subject matter, have not met with any real resistance from mainstream Hollywood…until now. From The MarySue:

Universal Studios and Fifty Shades Ltd., which own the movie and book rights, respectively, to EL James‘ Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, is suing Smash Pictures over porn parody Fifty Shades of Grey: A XXX Adaptation.

The plaintiffs are calling the film a “willful attempt to capitalize on the reputation of the book,” which seems pretty clear given how it uses the same title. “By lifting exact dialogue, characters, events, story, and style from the Fifty Shades trilogy,” continues the lawsuit, “Smash Pictures ensured that the first XXX adaptation was, in fact, as close as possible to the original works.”

The key point of the lawsuit seems to be the dialogue, which is too close to the original. That is a real oversight, but it also appears to be a bit of misdirection. What seems obvious is that this is the one parody that didn’t pass the copyright test because Hollywood believes Fifty Shades of Grey will be a very lucrative film property and sex will be an important part of the equation. A porn parody directly undercuts those goals. This brings me to a topic that has bothered me for quite some time and that is the way that Hollywood skirts the line between art and pornography. We’ve all heard the complaints about how movies like Monsters Ball are essentially softcore pornography and yet the end result is an Oscar for Halle Berry. It goes much further though.

I have a game I play when I see a movie with an actress I am unfamiliar with. I check to see if they have done a nude scene. Lately it seems there is an almost 100% certainty they have. The last movie I saw in theaters was the latest James Bond flick, Skyfall. The two ‘Bond Girls’ this time around were Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe. While writing this post I checked and, surprise, surprise, nude scenes for both. It seems a right-of-passage for just about every actress these days. The problem as I see it is not the pressure to do nude scenes, free will being what it is, but rather the way that we as Americans draw an arbitrary line between art and pornography with the latter being subject to few of the cultural and legal protections the former enjoys.

In November 56% of votes in Los Angeles County passed County Ordinance B which makes condoms mandatory in the making of pornography within that county. This move will force the entire porn industry out of its traditional home in the valley and into another locale. The performers themselves fought hard against this move and in a very libertarian fashion argued that their safety is their own business. The industry has self-regulated with very few health scares for the last 15 years and the government has failed to recognize this as grounds for non-intervention.

A porn version of Fifty Shades of Grey would no doubt be much closer to the original subject material than a Hollywood piece that waters things down just enough for an R-rating yet most people would never consider viewing the former and will line up for tickets for the latter. The games we play with sexuality and sexually explicit material in the U.S. are a quirk of our culture that is no doubt rooted in evangelical Christian traditions of pretending these things don’t exist while engaging in them behind closed doors. American women have never had more power and yet their husbands are watching more porn than ever before. The contradiction strikes me as laughable but in the context of U.S. history it is completely understandable. We are a nation that is very good at pretending to be something different from what we are at times.

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206 thoughts on “The Hypocrisy of Hollwood as a Model for American Society

  1. It seems worth noting that the current incarnation of Bond, one Daniel Craig, has also done nude scenes. In fact, he did one in Casino Royale.

    And, as I’ve written, I think the condom requirement is foolish. The performers should be able to take the risks they choose, even if I would caution them to do otherwise.


    • I wasn’t aware of that post Russell. I would have linked if I had.

      I think the issue with male nudity is just as silly, although more infrequent. My point is really more about the pretense that they aren’t filming softcore porn. At what point in a scene does it shift from art to porn? A man doing graphic things to a woman’s breasts is apparently okay. If he heads south and is simulating oral sex that is okay unless they show he is actually performing it, then it appears to cross that line.


    • I agree to some extent, Russell, but I am reminded that the Gilded Age argument would have gone something like “I think the condom hard hat requirement is foolish. The performers construction workers should be able to take the risks they choose, even if I would caution them to do otherwise.”

      Replace with the words seat belt and driver, equivalently. Or sleep hours and semitruck driver. Or any number of safety regulation that’s actually had a good reason behind it.


      • M.A. – the issue is that the performers already have a level of protection with regular testing. There has also been an argument made that the condoms create more tears and abrasions thus increasing health risks, not limiting them.


        • Also, there was an agency [*] that did testing for all performers and all the major players (the ones who will be impacted by this law) required their stars to have a valid recent card. That agency has been closed — another on the same lines would do far more in the way of prevention than any silly condom law.

          [*] From wikipedia:
          [The] Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation, an organization which provided information and STD testing to workers in adult entertainment. As of 2004, they were testing 1,200 adult performers a month. In 2011, a security breach led to over 12,000 adult performers’ personal information being released publicly. A privacy breach lawsuit was filed against the institute and they closed their doors in May, 2011.


          • AIM being closed was a real tragedy for the industry. The founder, Sharon Mitchell, was a former performer herself and a licensed medical professional. The performers felt very safe with the work they did and now it is a hodgepodge of other providersand probably more risky.


      • M.A.,

        It would be enough to tell construction firms that they can’t prohibit hard hats, and that they are responsible for workplace accidents.

        As to seat belts, absolutely. It’s your business and your business only.

        As to sleep hours and semi-truck drivers, you’re now comparing apples to oranges. Sleepy drivers do not only endanger themselves, but others. That’s a categorically different issue.

        Superficially, that may seem like condoms, since a person with an STD doesn’t only harm themselves. But unlike the truck driver who falls asleep at the wheel and hits an innocent victim, the participant in a non-condom sex scene has accepted the risk.

        It would be interesting to know if there’s higher pay for non-condom scenes.


        • Oh please.

          It would be enough to tell construction firms that they can’t prohibit hard hats, and that they are responsible for workplace accidents.

          Except that it historically wasn’t.

          As to seat belts, absolutely. It’s your business and your business only.

          Right until your bad driving results in you not just momentarily having a vehicle out of control, but being thrown from behind the wheel placing the car completely out of control with no hope of regaining control via brakes or steering wheel. Then you run into someone else’s vehicle, causing danger for everyone else on the roadways.

          As to sleep hours and semi-truck drivers, you’re now comparing apples to oranges. Sleepy drivers do not only endanger themselves, but others. That’s a categorically different issue.

          One, but not the other. Libertarian dishonesty on display per the norm.

          Superficially, that may seem like condoms, since a person with an STD doesn’t only harm themselves. But unlike the truck driver who falls asleep at the wheel and hits an innocent victim, the participant in a non-condom sex scene has accepted the risk.

          Except that what’s been discovered is people in the industry lying about their status, up to having the documents tampered with.

          If it were a matter of the tests themselves being not 100% accurate, you might have a case. The problem is we are dealing with fraud now. And some companies have proven that condom-only porn is doable.


          • “It would be enough to tell construction firms that they can’t prohibit hard hats, and that they are responsible for workplace accidents.”

            Except that it historically wasn’t.
            There never was such a set of rules, M.A. Please don’t just make things up.

            “As to seat belts, absolutely. It’s your business and your business only.
            “Right until your bad driving results in you not just momentarily having a vehicle out of control, but being thrown from behind the wheel placing the car completely out of control with no hope of regaining control via brakes or steering wheel”

            Seriously? Dude, if hit something hard enough that you’re thrown from behind the wheel, you’re already past hope of regaining control. Please don’t just make things up.

            “As to sleep hours and semi-truck drivers, you’re now comparing apples to oranges. Sleepy drivers do not only endanger themselves, but others. That’s a categorically different issue.”
            One, but not the other. Libertarian dishonesty on display per the norm.

            You really can’t distinguish between self-harm and harm-to-innocents? Taken to a gleeful extreme, your logic means suicide is equivalent to randomly shooting a stranger in the face.

            The problem is we are dealing with fraud now.
            There. That’s a serious argument. If you had just stuck with that and not said all the other indefensible stuff, you’d be in a much stronger argumentative position.


            • Seriously? Dude, if hit something hard enough that you’re thrown from behind the wheel, you’re already past hope of regaining control. Please don’t just make things up.

              Spoken like someone who’s never driven down a bumpy road. Get jounced around by a hefty pothole a couple times and be thankful that belt kept you near the wheel and your feet near the pedals.

              You really can’t distinguish between self-harm and harm-to-innocents?

              No, you’re the one with a problem of seeing where the harm to innocents starts. A real blind spot, and I hope you don’t drive with it.

              Seat belts save lives. Not just the lives of the buckled: the lives of others on the roadways. That you are too blind and sheltered to see how that works is an indictment of you, not of seat belt laws.


              • Spoken like someone who’s never driven down a bumpy road

                Don’t make me laugh. I’m a country boy. I’ve driven gravel roads at 80 mph (note to all parents: don’t let teenage boys drive; period), and I have lost–and barely regained–control, and I did fly off the road into a ditch once after hitting a tractor (albeit on a paved road). Being bounced away from the wheel by rough road was not something that ever happened.


          • “You really can’t distinguish between self-harm and harm-to-innocents? Taken to a gleeful extreme, your logic means suicide is equivalent to randomly shooting a stranger in the face.”

            That is the exact opposite of what he is saying. If you drive without a seatbelt, you risk only your own life. But a tired driver risks the lives of others on the road. Similarly, I’d argue folks should be free to take their own lives but not the life of another.


            • No, kazzy, it’s not the opposite of what he’s saying. I’m the one who’s saying driving without a seatbelt risks only your own life. He’s lumping self-only risks in with risks to others.


            • Kazzy,

              My point is that if you drive without a seatbelt, you are not just taking the risk of your own life; you are risking the lives of others. Seat belts don’t just keep your head from going through the windshield, they keep your hands on the wheel and feet near the pedals.

              A solid impact with a thrown item, an unexpected pothole, a hard swerve to avoid something in the roadway all have the potential to dislodge a driver from the seat. Once that happens, not only is the car out of control, the chances of bringing it under control decrease astronomically.

              A seat belt stands in the way of a swerving driver avoiding roadkill or road debris turning into a car careening into the oncoming lanes with nobody behind the wheel.

              That James is too sheltered and ignorant to see it is an indictment of his blindness, not an indictment of seat belt laws.

              James says that “ Dude, if hit something hard enough that you’re thrown from behind the wheel, you’re already past hope of regaining control.” He’s clueless.
              “If you are struck from the side or make a quick turn, the force could push you sideways and therefore you cannot steer the vehicle if you are not behind the wheel.”


              • The NHTSA is 90% bullshit on this. There’s almost no way a quick turn can dislodge you from the steering wheel unless you’re going so fast that you’re already out of control, and are extremely unlikely to be able to regain control. And if you’re hit from the side with a force hard enough to throw you out of your seat, then you’re not going to be able to regain control anyway. You’re going to be at least momentarily stunned, if not severely injured, and even if you’re not there are almost no drivers on the roads who have the training to be able to regain control of a car in those circumstances.

                The cases in which a seatbelt might save somebody else’s life are so absolutely minimal, so astoundingly unlikely, that they’re not a substantial basis for public policy.

                Of course I’m sheltered (as if M.A. has any idea of my life history) and ignorant (of certain genres of classical music and science fiction), so take what I say with a grain of salt.


                • I’ve been hit from the side, violently enough to make the belt leave bruising. But it kept me in my seat, which I highly suspect wouldn’t have been the case absent the belt.

                  I’ve been in a truck on bumpy roads and watched an unbelted passenger roll into the driver at an unexpected jolt.

                  Your claims simply don’t apply. You’re applying your own deluded hatred for “government” and claiming the NHTSA is “90% bullshit”. I have no regard for the kind of person who believes this sort of thing, disregarding real testing and study in favor of anec-nondata.

                  Then there’s the fact that seatbelts hold you in proper position for airbags to work as intended.

                  But don’t worry. Hanley has survived seatbelt-less crashes and not killed anybody, therefore seatbelts must be worthless and a plot by the UN to take over the populace by mind control or something.


                  • James is not claiming that the seat belt won’t keep you in the seat. He’s claiming that in situations in which you need the seat belt to keep you in the seat, keeping control of the car isn’t an issue, because it will be impossible with or without the seat belt.


                    • Begging everyone’s pardon, but I’ve been down gravel roads.
                      And if you’re on gravel, you bounce IN your seat.
                      Assuming, for the moment, that during a bounce, you are in “less control” than normal. (for one thing, your calibration on “how much I push to make the car go” is liable to be off — also potentially where your foot is in relation to the brake.)
                      Now, this isn’t long. But the bounce and subsequent corrections are long enough to be more than people’s normal reaction time.

                      Ergo, you might kill a kitty, if you’re bouncing in your seat at the wrong time.

                      Making sense?


                    • Kim, a few points: 1.) if you’re on a gravel road, chances are you’re there alone, so most of the argument is rendered irrelevant.
                      2.) if you’re on a gravel road and you’re bouncing in your seat, drive slower.
                      3.) if you’re on a gravel road and you’re bouncing in your seat to such an extent that you cannot hold onto the steering wheel, stop doing 90 on a gravel road.


                  • “deluded hatred for government”

                    The claims just keep escalating!

                    seatbelts must be worthless and a plot by the UN to take over the populace by mind control

                    One sure way to tell a thoughtless person from a thoughtful one is by whether they understand that opposition to a requirement of X is not the same thing as opposition to X itself. I would legalize marijuana even though I don’t and wouldn’t smoke it. I’m really uncomfortable with abortion, but I firmly support the right. In the same way, I always wear my seat belts, always require my kids to, and have refused to drive until my adult passengers did (is that an abuse of private power, when my passenger absolutely had no transportation alternative?).

                    But this is a political debate, so outrageously ridiculous claims about our opponents is proof of our own integrity or something, I suppose.


              • My original claim was that if you don’t fasten your seatbelt you harm only yourself. That assumes a person competent to make their own choices about whether to accept the risk or not. That doesn’t apply to children. They’re not competent to make all their own choices, and if mom/dad crashes, they’re not the cause of their own harm.

                So no, it’s not OK, and yes, the gov’t can make a rule for kids’ safety.


                  • Without necessarily signing on to M.A.’s tone, there is actually the germ of an interesting thought in here. We have an argument that the state is permitted to require that someone buckle up his kid but not himself, so that in case of a certain moderately terrible crash, the kid survives but the parent does not. Then what happens to the kid?

                    (I believe the standard mock-libertarian answer here requires Oliver Twist. I’ll refrain.)


                    • We obviously needed more birth control awareness a few years back, then this wouldn’t have been an issue.

                      If we could normalize condom usage through making such things prevalent in pornography, then people would be accustomed to wearing them for run of the mill sex (even within marriage). No child to buckle up, then we wouldn’t have a problem if the dad doesn’t use a seatbelt.


                    • people would be accustomed to wearing them for run of the mill sex (even within marriage).

                      Or all the time – better safe than sorry. Look around you. I’ll bet you can’t tell who is wearing one right now, under their clothes.

                      To get (slightly) less ridiculous for a moment, I get where Ryan is coming from (I agree, parents should look out for themselves so as not to orphan their young kids), but where does that end? I just don’t see much in the way of non-skid surfaces that we could apply to that particular incline.

                      Dad, don’t eat that Whopper, you might have a heart attack. Mom, I know you enjoy it, and at least I’m not worried about *your* cardio – but I am afraid your rock-climbing days are over.

                      No motorcycle sales to anyone with kids, for sure.


                    • Well, of course it ends where everything ends: democracy. I know libertarians hate this answer, but it’s the right one: there’s no such thing as a slippery slope. The slope stops wherever people want it to stop. We have laws that everyone in a car has to wear a seatbelt; we don’t have laws against Whoppers. Ipso facto, the slope stops somewhere between.

                      If you want a logical argument, my first attempt would go something like this: it’s utterly implausible that you have a preference for driving without a seatbelt (it’s far more likely that you’re lazy or an asshole). The point of liberty is to defend your freedom of conscience, not your freedom to be a lazy ass. So legislation that impinges your freedom not to wear a seatbelt simply doesn’t implicate a meaningful liberty claim. Or, at best, it very minimally implicates a liberty claim, at which point we’re on the level of something like a rational basis test, which the state rarely has all that much trouble clearing.


                    • Ryan, that we do not (currently) have laws against Whoppers does not mean that “the slope stops” – presumably, the slope continues sloping right on down to the bottom (wherever that may be, and depending on your perspective).

                      What it means, rather, is that we have currently only proceeded a ways down the slope; not that the continuum itself does not exist, nor that it is impossible to travel farther along it than we would have desired (particularly once we have accepted the premises that put us on the slope: in this case, that we *must* stop idiots from killing themselves and possibly orphaning their children).

                      It is possible to take a lot of small steps, each in and of itself fairly innocuous, and end up in a place you ultimately didn’t want to go.

                      (Warning: here’s where I get sort of paranoid, though I don’t think the Jews or the Lizard-Men or the Bilderbergs are behind it – it’s just something that sort of just seems to be happening – )

                      Each small imposition (even when simply upon our American right to be a lazy a-hole, and always for our own good, or for that of The Children) strikes me as potentially part of a larger system of social control.

                      You know how, when you are taking off in a plane, they make you not only put up yr seatback/tray (OK, makes sense, that could hurt somebody) and turn off your iPad (hmmm, not so much, but I’m no expert, so maybe there’s a good reason for this) but also for example open the windowsash completely (WTF !)?

                      My opinion is that this little routine is mostly a bit of conditioning.

                      And it’s there to make you feel safe, and looked after; and concomitantly, docile and submissive; and to make note of anyone who raises any fuss over the seeming arbitrariness of some of these rules, as they may be a potential troublemaker later.

                      All right, crazytime over. Apologies for letting you into that weird little corner of Glyph’s World. Too much sci-fi as a kid, no doubt.


                    • I am sure it’s far from uniform, but the seat belt thing is exactly the sort of opportunity for police harassment that white males can see themselves being easily subject to – and so, as far as I know, everywhere I have lived it is expressly illegal for seat belt violations to be used as a pretext for a traffic stop.


                    • Crap, I replied in the wrong tier of discussion – I meant my comment as a reply to Glyph below. But, as long as I’m horning my way into this part of the discussion, in principle I agree with Ryan here – that finding a place to stop the slippery slope is a primary function of democracy.
                      This does not at all invalidate the libertarian critique of any given rule or law as a possibly unnecessary infringement of liberty – just that there isn’t any magical balance of liberty vs. all other considerations (including other liberties!) such that everything would be hunky dory if only our elected leaders would start to heed.
                      We’re on the hook to figure this stuff out on a case by case basis.


                    • To Plinko (and Ryan)- look, I like democracy. And I wear seatbelts, and as a small-l libertarian, I am certainly not going to die on the hill of “seatbelts are tyranny!”

                      But. (You knew that was coming, right?)

                      Democracy does often result in people’s rights, large and small, getting run roughshod over by the majority. So I am OK with saying there are certain principles that we should have a high bar to clear, before we even open them up for majority-rule vote in the first place.

                      And a prime example of one of those principles is, if it ain’t hurting anyone else in a clear & direct way, it’s not our business.

                      I tend to think mandatory seatbelt laws are of a piece with drug laws, in that you have to do more stretching than I am comfortable with to demonstrate “harm to others”.

                      Am I gonna pitch a fit over them? No. But does the principle and precedent bother me? Yes.


                  • So the parents should be required to make the kid buckle up, but then if dad chooses to leave his off, it’s his own informed choice he can make for himself.

                    This is pretty much libertarianism 101. You can even argue that it’s common sense 101, too. I see nothing extraordinary about James making this claim, and it’s similar to what I might support.

                    I might, however, be open to the argument that a seatbelt-less driver might sustain injuries that the public has to pay for and that this might justify a law requiring seat belts.

                    But I might have balance that point with that the possibility that in practice, mandatory seat belt laws might function 1) as a way to further punish someone pulled over for someone else; 2) as yet another excuse to harrass minority drivers.


              • Along these lines, James, I’m curious where you would draw the line between “adult” and “child”.

                Personally, I think we draw it too high in many places. I wouldn’t be too bothered with high school students voting. But I also only studied adolescent psych in a survey level class, so I may be way off.


        • I have to say, I disagree with much of this. Occupational safety requirements did not occur in a vacuum. As I’ve noted before, fifty years ago the rule of thumb for a sky scraper was a death or permanent disability per floor; now it’s almost unheard of.

          That you would allow employers to frown on the time and expense taken for safety procedures and equipment (because in a non-regulated world, this *is* exactly what happens) seems to assume that you believe there is a more equal power dynamic between a foreman or owner and a laborer than there really is.

          As for porn stars, I don’t really know their industry so I don’t have much of an opinion. But I suspect that viewers prefer to see unprotected sex; if that’s the case it’s hard to believe there isn’t a lot of pressure from producers to forgo protection. If the industry is such that the performers (including those that aren’t “stars”) have a certain level of power with the producers, then I don’t see a problem. If that’s not the case, however, I strongly suspect that the statement “it’s their choice whether not to protect themselves” is a little naive.

          I worry that the reason we might say “as an employer you can’t bully a roofer into getting into a precarious place without a harness” but not have a similar attitude about a teenage girl being filmed having sex is that because of the profession, we consider one person more expendable than the other.


              • With condoms there is a greater tendency to see them as the only protection needed. Less emphasis is put on testing.

                Also (and this is the real concern) they cause more injuries to the women. More abrasions and tears to their lady parts.


                  • Well with the tears and abrasions problem that’s 100% real. It’s a common complaint. Keep in mind, they don’t have sex for 10 minutes like the average couple at home. They might be going at it, in starts and stops, for over an hour. No lube can deal with that.


                    • Mike: Safety harness can cause chaffing. If you’re hit hard in the face while wearing safety goggles the crown of the glasses will cause serious lacerations to your forehead. Infants in car seats often suffer serious bruising from the belts in the case of a head-on collision; more severe injuries have been known to happen if the collision is strong enough. Airbags have been known to fracture ribs and noses.

                      To say that therefore people would be safer to forgo those things would similar to saying… well, to saying that women who have frequent sex with numerous partners are *really* safer by not using protection.

                      Again, I don’t know enough about the industry to have an opinion on this matter, but if porn stars have talked themselves into believing that practicing safe sex increases the likelihood or severity or bad complications from their jobs, they’re in complete denial.

                      Having read Tony Comstock’s comments below (since we actually have our own in-house producer and director of movies featuring real sex), I’m not inclined to think performers are as safe or healthy as we viewers might like pretending they are.


                    • Tod – the problem is that when you look at the transmission of HIV (which I assume is the biggest fear) then open wounds create the biggest threat to infection. And it feels like the analogy to hard hats and safety glasses is flawed because you’re talking about the results of an accident. With condoms these women would injured through the normal act of doing their job. It’s not a worse case scenario it’s an every-day scenario.


                    • Tod – I am not disagreeing (I don’t know if the claim is true or not) but your analogies don’t quite hold. In yours, the safety equipment may cause a minor injury, while preventing a major one.

                      In this condom example, the posited minor injury may be the vector for a major one.

                      It’d be like a surgeon who is exposed to body fluids wearing a surgical mask made out of sandpaper or something.


                    • I’m going to have to go out a little bit on a limb, since I’m not aware of any evidence-based answer to this as pertains particularly to the adult entertainment industry. (And you’ll forgive me if I refrain from investigating the question on my work computer.)

                      That said, I am skeptical about claims that condoms increase the risk of STI transmission, even for the lengthy sessions that would be occurring during a porn shoot. Condoms are the mainstay for prevention for sexually-active people (abstinence being the obvious most-effective choice), and it’s news to me that there is some time limit in the helpful/harmful equation.

                      Also, (as I have been told by friends) condom use is the norm in gay porn. I have a difficult time believing that the risk/benefit ratio is different with regard to condom use in the one area of the porn industry than the other.


                    • Being a somewhat non-traditional father, I explained it in this wise:

                      All this romance stuff is just so much window dressing. Sex is the most fun you’ll ever have in your life, bar none, hands down the greatest thing you’ll ever experience if you’re lucky enough to find someone compatible with you. It’s selfish and delightful, dirty and singularly excellent. You have been hard-wired for sex. So don’t deny it or feel ashamed of it.

                      But as with many things in life, it’s not without risks. Sex glues people together and it’s awfully painful to separate. Some people play games with sex and think this is not so. So be very choosy when it comes time to Get Nekkid, things won’t be the same afterwards. It’s not like porn: porn is as big a lie as romance. Romance says it’s all about hearts and flowers and True Love and Porn says it’s all about Having Fun and both are illusions. Once you’ve found someone who’s good for you, you be good for them, too.


              • “Beyond that, Ireland said condoms can make porn sex painful. Even with added lubricant, she said condoms feel abrasive during her hours on set and can cause tiny cuts in sensitive tissue. ”


                I make no medical or scientific judgement, except to say that abrasions/cuts generally increase risk of infections in general; so I wouldn’t dismiss the claim out of hand. Shoots can take hours.


            • My brother-in-law works as a safety inspector for gas/oil pipelines. He spends half his week in the field, wandering between sites and spot-checking gear and procedures. (The other half of his week is dealing with injured people, claims, etc).

              According to him, the biggest roadblock between his crews and safer operations is…his crews. Doing it right is slower. It often involves uncomfortable gear, and checklists, and generally is a PITA.

              90% of his day in the field is harassing workers into keeping their safety gear on, in not cutting corners, and forcing them to do the job the safe way.

              Because to the average working man, the perils of a 1 in a 1000 per year accident are minimal compared to the fact that ‘safety’ means a bunch of stupid gear and dumb rules and time-consuming junk for something that are a 1000 to 1 against happening to him.

              To my brother-in-law’s company, however, they employ tens of thousands across the country. 1000 to 1 odds are a different sort of animal to them, and it costs them.

              I can’t really speak to porn stars, but I will say that both my brother-in-laws — and my personal experience — is that individuals discount small risks, but those small risks become large problems across a big industry.

              Porn, being such a small business environment (if a LOT of small businesses!) and employees being contractors (so to speak), well, I suspect their view on safety is closer to the field workers my brother-in-law manages (“it’s uncomfortable, it’s slow, it makes the work take longer and less efficient”) than his company (“It saves a TON more money than it costs in lost time, and no PR nightmares about crap safety and hurt workers”) does.


                • So?

                  If I prefer my car built by child labor, should we dispense with child labor laws? Maybe I want some hydrocodone — should we dispense with the requirement for prescriptions?

                  There’s lots of things people ‘prefer’ that they can’t get, for one reason or another. I can’t get a cheap car without all those pesky safety features, for one. They just don’t sell them here, no matter how badly I want one without even a hint of emissions control.


                  • My point is that they are not wholly analogous. Whether or not construction workers have hard hats might change the price of a product, but they shouldn’t change the final product itself. Looking at a house, I can’t imagine you’d know whether it was built by helmeted or helmetless workers.

                    Requiring condoms might result in an inferior product. Which might be justified if the condom mandate outweighs the changes to the product. I just think the changes to the product should be considered, even if there appears to be a bit unsavoriness to the preferences.

                    If construction helmets somehow prohibited white buildings from being build, you can bet your ass that consequence would be part of the conversation, even if it wasn’t catered to.


                    • You’re right. We should go ahead and let market forces pressure people into getting lethal diseases because, gosh darn it, that piece of latex is SO scene breaking.

                      Your analogy is worse, Kazzy. If condom use meant porn became nothing but two people mouthing bad dialogue, indeed, there might be a question there.

                      Instead, the difference between porn WITH a condom and porn WITHOUT a condom is…well, the existance of a condom. The end result is identical, except for a bit of latex.


                    • “Instead, the difference between porn WITH a condom and porn WITHOUT a condom is…well, the existance of a condom. The end result is identical, except for a bit of latex.”

                      That is your mileage. And, personally, mine as well. But I know a number of folks who really dislike porn with condoms. I can’t explain it, but it’s how they feel.

                      And I don’t think that market factors should pressure people into getting lethal diseases. I think that standardized working conditions should include a number of factors, including their impact on the final product. You don’t want to regulate an industry out of existence. And given that I haven’t really seen demonstrable evidence that the condom mandate is necessary, I am somewhat sympathetic to the market forces.


              • Anecdotes are not data, but…

                For several years my father worked as a safety inspector for an insurance company that wrote workers comp and liability insurance for companies in a wide range of industries. The company began offering attractive rates for companies that conformed to proper practice in terms of safety gear and procedures. The policy also required the insured to allow unannounced field inspections (ie, dad dropped in at the work site on a random day). The second time an insured company was caught in violation of proper practice, their policy was not renewed and they had to pay the significantly higher premiums other companies charged. My father always told me that after a few examples had been made, employers that bought their insurance from my father’s company passed the word down that failure to wear safety gear and follow proper practice was a firing offense, as was failure of supervisors to enforce that rule. My dad’s company’s claims experience was the envy of other insurers. OTOH, they didn’t corner the market; many employers seemed to feel that ignoring safety practices would make workers more productive by enough to outweigh the higher premiums.


          • Tod,
            That you would allow employers to frown on the time and expense taken for safety procedures and equipment

            I don’t see how you get that from “tell construction firms that they can’t prohibit hard hats,”


            • All I know is that if we require construction workers to wear both hard hats AND condoms, we’ve just doubled their employment options in this difficult economy.

              I just hope they remember which piece of safety equipment goes where.


            • I favor certain safety standards because of the near inability to make an informed choice. I think a reasonable ability to be informed is a prerequisite for such voluntary contracts. I don’t think that is possible on most construction sites. We’re not just talking abstractly about “safety”. A decision to wear a helmet might be impacted by the age and condition of equipment being used, the degree of skill of others on the site, the quality of materials, etc. If a foreman or site manager can’t properly and accurately offer this information, then he cannot also offer the option of going sans helmet. Add in the language barriers that often exist on construction sites and the likelihood of employees having the requisite information drops even further.


            • Because, as I’ve said, historically speaking this is what happens. Safety requires investments of money and time (which, of course, is money as well). When no outside agency makes them a requirement, they don’t happen.

              We like to tell ourselves that if safety equipment isn’t mandatory, employers will have no issue with employees choosing to use safe equipment and practices. But as I said, history says that isn’t how things actually work.


        • “As to seat belts, absolutely. It’s your business and your business only.”

          Is it really? Seat-belts save lives just like sleep-hours for long-haul bus drivers. Seat Belts do not prevent an accident but it does prevent someone from being hurt more than they would if they did not have a seat belt. A seat belt might diminish or erase the need for emergency medical response and then free resources that can be used for more unpreventable accidents like a person who has a heart attack at work and needs to be rushed to the hospital. The seat belt might also make an accident a quicker clean up and let traffic flow normally at a quicker pace.


          • Ah, hah, the “other people end up having to pay for your sorry ass” argument (also applicable to motorcycle helmet laws). I wondered how long it would take to come up, because unlike what’s been proffered so far, this is a serious argument.

            At least given our current socio-political setup. Personally I’d write the rule such that if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, you’ve got no claim on society’s resources. It’s your responsibility to have your insurance ID on you, and if there’s a clause that they don’t have to pay for your sorry ass if you’re not wearing a seatbelt, then they don’t have to pay for your sorry ass. The cleanup stuff I would set aside as minor incidental costs that can be found in any policy.

            But of course there’s no imaginable way we’re going to have that policy. So as long as people expect and have a legal right to make a claim on society’s resources when injured, the legislative agents of the folks in that society can reasonably require seat belts and motorcycle helmets. I don’t like the law, and it’s not my preferred system (I’m skeptical of creating a system where everyone thinks they have claim on society’s resources–because of course that’s actually a claim on others’ resources–and the tradeoff is that government gets to regulate ever more aspects of our lives), but it’s a reasonable law.


            • You’ve been offered serious arguments.

              Sticking your fingers in your ears shouting “LALALALA I DON’T BELIEVE THE NHTSA DESPITE THEIR CONSTANT STUDY AND ACTUAL SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH” doesn’t count as a valid response but that’s all you gave back.


              • Re: NHTSA. The informational brochure you linked to cited no research on people’s ability to regain control of a vehicle after they’ve been broadsided or made a turn sharp enough to throw them out of their seat. The NHTSA does do research and pays careful attention to the research of other organizations, but they are tasked with saving lives on the road, and seat belts save lives, so they will promote seatbelt use.

                As an extensive literature on public policy shows, the shift from regulatory activity to promotional activity frequently leads to lower standards for claims. (For background reading, I recommend Roger Pielke’s The Honest Broker.) In essence, in its promotional material the NHTSA is advertising, and as with all advertising we should not take the claims at face value. The NHTSA has a job to do–“save lives”–and it’s doing it. It’s job in this regard is not to “present precisely accurate information based solely on peer-reviewed research and let the public come to their own conclusions.”

                I’m skeptical of the NHTSA in this regard (but not in everything they do, mind) in precisely the same way I’m skeptical of the Pentagon’s claim that the looming defense cuts would crucially undermine public safety.


            • The issue with your proposal in the second paragraph is how would emergency responders tell whether someone was wearing their seatbelt or not. Sometimes seatbelts and airbags fail. Also the accident still needs to be cleared whether people were wearing seatbelts or not. If a person needs to be pried from his or her car, they might as well be taken to the hospital and treated. I think your ideal would just create a cottage industry for lawyers arguing whether someone was wearing a seat belt or not. I am not sure whether this is your intended effect but thanks for the work. ;)

              Honestly, this is one area where conservatives and liberals tend to disagree on freedom(TM) and the conservative argument just causes me to scratch my head in confusion. I have seen many right-leaning folks (not accusing you) of saying that they wear seatbelts and require their passengers to do the same. However, it seems to cause them temper tantrums that wearing a seat belt or a helmet is the law. They get table-banging, blood-pressure popping angry at the idea and think it is a great tyranny. I just look at them confused. This is what makes them angry? Especially because many of these people are against Same-Sex Marriage and support DOMA. DOMA is an actual and serious abridgment of freedom. People are strange I suppose.


              • “I have seen many right-leaning folks (not accusing you) of saying that they wear seatbelts and require their passengers to do the same. However, it seems to cause them temper tantrums that wearing a seat belt or a helmet is the law. They get table-banging, blood-pressure popping angry at the idea and think it is a great tyranny.”

                I had a post sharing observations that conservative parents tend to indulge a parenting style more akin to “big government” and that liberal parents tend to indulge a parenting style more akin to “laissez faire”. When folks weren’t telling me how stupid and biased I was, there was an interesting discussion about how this wasn’t necessarily hypocritical in its own right. There is an logically consistent argument for wanting something to be, mandating it in the situations in which you’re in control, but objecting to the government involving itself as such. Rectifying this with advocating for OTHER governmental intrusions can indeed get sloppy, though.


                • Conservatives don’t hate government control.

                  They hate government control of those things that they themselves want to do, while wanting government control of things they dislike.

                  It’s no coincidence that counties with the most bible humpers tend to have hyper-restrictive alcohol laws and zoning laws designed to stop people from creating “distasteful” small businesses (pubs, bars, microbreweries, and anything more tittilating than a Hooter’s style sports bar). And it’s also no coincidence that counties and states with the most bible humpers also are the ones most stridently against treating gays with the same respect, dignity, and equality under law due any human being.

                  But in those same counties and states, look around for permissive gun laws and “stand your ground” or “castle doctrine” laws designed to excuse abuse of firearms. And look for those same counties and states to have pretty lax laws and enforcement when it comes to domestic abuse and similar situations.

                  The same people who want government to “get out of their lives” and “not get in the way of my parenting” are the ones who want to whup their kid with a belt until they “whup the gay right out of him.” Never forget that.


                  • “The same people who want government to “get out of their lives” and “not get in the way of my parenting” are the ones who want to whup their kid with a belt until they “whup the gay right out of him.” Never forget that.”

                    As deplorable as such acts might be, there is nothing ideologically inconsistent about them: I am in charge of me and my family, not the government.


                • I suppose. In some ways, I think that liberal parents (especially of the upper-middle class professional mode) can be more strict than conservative parents.

                  Bush II and his wife seemed rather indulgent as parents. I remember during 2004 that one of the step-kids of Kerry said that there were strict rules about watching TV and that they had to write a report about what they saw on TV. My parents banned TV watching during school nights when I was in high school.


                  • Oh, yea… I don’t want to relitigate the whole issue here, but this was a general trend I observed in a few particular areas of the country. It certainly wasn’t wholly reflective of either group, nor meant as a criticism of either group. Just an observation that I put out to the zeitgeist for some analysis.


              • Oh, absolutely, it’s not a major issue of concern to me. I just grumble at the constant string of road signs telling me I’m a criminal if I don’t wear my seat belt. But it’s nothing I’m lobbying for. All I was really doing here was responding to one person’s bad arguments about it.


            • James,

              Practically, how would your plan work? Imagine a 20 car pile up. Are first responders supposed to sift through and figure out who was wearing a seat belt and who wasn’t? Critical, emergent care as a result of accident shouldn’t be denied under any circumstances. I also wouldn’t be opposed to a very reasonable garnishment of wages or other such plan to recoup expenses if there were no other responsible parties (e.g., insurance, at-fault driver) capable of paying.


              • I don’t know. It might not. As I noted elsewhere on this thread, I was mostly responding to bad arguments. This isn’t an issue near and dear to my heart, since really it’s just the government telling me to do what I already do anyway. I’m really hoping for that PSA reminding me I should put my pants on one leg at a time. ;)


  2. You assume that only men are watching porn.
    Frankly, I find it baffling and disconcerting that couples don’t watch/read porn together.


      • really? American society is sexually repressed? I wouldn’t have guessed. Honestly, no sarcasm here. American society seems rather licentious to me. Maybe that’s just what it looks like through the lens of Hollywood. But then, when it comes to humour, if something being transgressive is what it takes to be humourous, what does it mean when a comedian (Doug Stanhope) has to resort to jokes about fantasizing about raping a football player in order to get that laugh out?

        For half of American singles, it takes at most 3 dates for someone to be sexually intimate. I don’t know the numbers in Singapore, but my perception is that the percentage is a lot lower. But then, that just may be that Singapore is even more sexually repressed than the US. Statistics are good, and if anyone’s google fu is better, maybe they could try to see how american sexual attitudes compare to the global norm.


        • You’re quoting from an anonymous poll with self-selection bias. Bad Murali.
          I understand that most dating occurs in adolescence and young adulthood (when people tend to take longer to get intimate), and that people on singles websites tend to be the desperate sort.
          I’m pretty sure 4chan has a saying about fat chicks…


            • No. I am making a joke.
              Using 4chan as a credible source is unwise.
              Even when they do know what they’re talking about…
              (dude! who the hell posts “I know where a dead body is” on the internetz?)
              (and, seriously dude! what sort of insane mofo turns out to be right???)
              (… and to not have actually committed the crime…?)


        • American society is sexually repressed in that we are still having strong socio-political battles over things like proper sex education. There are still a lot of people with a lot of political clout who think that official US policy should be Abstinence Only. They do not want high school students taught on the proper uses of contraception.

          You are right to note though that most Americans will have sex before they get married and many will have sex before they are college freshman. This is why we have a problem with teen pregnancy. Ironically or not, there is more teen pregnancy in red states with Abstinence Only sex-ed policies.

          America also has a problem with drinking because we have a too-high legal drinking age (21) and many parents do not teach their kids to drink responsibly. My parents use to drink a bit of alcohol with dinner every night and taught me that was the purpose of drinking. Many Americans seem to think that the purpose is to get smashed.

          Contrast this to the Scandanavian where it is apparently normal and acceptable for teenagers to have their boyfriends and girlfriends sleep over with parental permission (after a frank and open discussion about sex with their parents). Or France and Italy where parents teach their kids how to drink in moderation and allow them a little bit of alcohol to build up tolerance.

          American parents seem to just want to avoid awkward conversations with their kids.


          • Here is the thing, you can’t compare this to Scandinavia because Scandinavia is one of the least sexually repressive places. Everywhere compared to Scandinavia looks sexually repressive. In America, there is at least a recommended practice to have a “Talk” with their kids about the birds and the bees. That doesn’t happen in Singapore. I’m betting that everyone here has had the Talk. Parents in America may try to avoid it. It may be done in a thoroughly half assed manner, but it is still done. Talking about sex ton one’s children is just not done in Singapore except to say don’t do it, or by the maybe about the more liberal 20% of parents.


            • This is a fair point.

              I have never been to Signapore and ancedote is not data but I used to belong to another internet community and there was a young woman from Singapore in the community. She attitudes and behaviors towards sex did not seem too different from a similar American woman (read: Young, college-educated, professional). She talked about her boyfriend in the same tones that I hear American women.

              I have no idea whether her parents talked to her or not but it is interesting to theorize whether the Internet will have a homogeneousizing effect on sexuality.


  3. I wonder if the Harvard group and similar groups would have been organizing trips to see a Fifty Shades movie like the christian bible humpers did going to see The Matrix. My guess would be, probably not.

    Of course since Fifty Shades is in essence badly written Twilight fan-fiction with the serial numbers filed off, and that (from the Mary Sue article) it is really a poor representation of those involved in alternative sexual expression, one wonders how much alteration NBC will have to make to the book to even get to an R rating.

    I’m sure that there are websites that are already closer to the book version of Fifty Shades, and I presume those so inclined would have no trouble finding them.


  4. I think it predates Evangelicalism by a bit. I want to say it goes back to Victorian times. (Dude! Their furniture didn’t even have legs!!!)

    I mean: have you ever thought about how neckties came into fashion?

    Well, it’s because of buttons. Buttons? Buttons!

    If you look at buttons, you might then start thinking about unbuttoning them, and the next thing you’re thinking about is clothing removal and you’re now imagining all of your friends naked… but a necktie can cover buttons up. No unbuttoning thoughts, no nudity thoughts, and no thoughts about what happens next.

    (Now, of course, I go to the internet to find some support for this theory that, I swear, I did not make up and I cannot find any support for it. I stand by it though.)


  5. I suspect that a lot of mainstream movie producers and their lawyers are well aware that there are porn parodies of their movies. But because “parody” is one of the recognized “fair use” exceptions to copyright, they let it go.

    But Fifty Shades is porn already. That’s probably why a porn “parody” is so close to the mark to not truly be a parody but instead simply copying the original, and probably why some copyright lawyer figured that this one is probably not fair use.

    The people who should be upset about all this are the holders of the copyright to Twilight, since Fifty Shades is a parody of their property. Speaking of which, if Kristen Stewart did a nude scene, I bet she wouldn’t look like she was having any fun.


    • A parody of 50 shades can only improve the dreck of the original.

      Here we should also note the irony that 50 shades started out as Twilight fanfic. So that is probably the biggest hypocrisy. 50 shades started out as a copyright violation.

      Though I am very curious about how free speech, fair use, and fanfic interact with copyright law. I wonder how the courts would view it.


  6. I can sort of see this.

    A porn version of Cheers is semi-original, in that it adds porn to a sit-com.
    A porn version of Batman is semi-original, in that it adds porn to a superhero action flick.
    A porn version of 50 Shades of Gray is unoriginal, in that it merely adds porn to the porn.


  7. Porn’s real problem is how to remain taboo. It’s like Woody Allen said “Is sex dirty? Only if it’s done right.” In an era where pornography is locked into a cycle of attempting to become ever more transgressive, it has become ever more banal.

    Mainstreaming was the worst thing to happen to the porn industry. Porn’s sheer ubiquity will be its downfall. Porn was the first real moneymaker out here on the Internet, turning the browser into a peep show, to the point where everyone’s kids can’t be kept away from it now. So where does an enterprising porn producer go for his transgressive-ness? To the last remaining bastion of prudery, making parodies of the MPAA-regulated film industry’s product.


    • Blaise – actually, there is a increasingly popular genre of the adult industry that is going towards realistic and artistic sex. Titles like X-Art which are very tasteful IMO. Supposedly they are doing well. It’s interesting because on the other end of the spectrum porn has gotten increasingly rough. Anal sex seems to be the norm now. I fear for the kids of today.


    • “Only if it’s done right.”

      What the character (Virgil Starks in Take the Money and Run) actually said is “It is if you’re doing it right.” Listen in your mind’s ear to Woody Allen saying both of them. “Only if …” is unnatural and, worse still, not funny.


      • Depends on the day & my mood as to whether TTM&R or Love & Death is my favorite early Allen. I remember once watching “Money” and having to pause it right at the beginning where we are seeing Virgil’s childhood, and that stentorian authoritative narrator (one of the earliest examples I can think of of using that device for comedy) deadpans something to the effect of “Virgil took to crime at an early age…(pause for 3 beats)…he was a *complete failure*.” as we see young Virgil getting his hand stuck in the gumball machine he was attempting to rob.

        I couldn’t breathe I was laughing so hard.

        Bananas, Sleeper, Everything…etc. are all good, but uneven. TTM&R is solid.


        • stentorian authoritative narrator

          Jackson Beck, one of the great radio voices of all time, who appears as one of the telepaths in The Demolished Man, presumably because he and Alfred Bester (who also worked in radio) were pals.


  8. I am not really sure what to make of this post.

    Is Hollywood being hypocritical? I’m not sure. From my study of Intellectual Property, a good deal of the lawsuits covering copyright and trademark infringement are more about being butt-hurt than anything else. Matel sued the band Aqua/Universal Music over the song Barbie Girl. Judge Kozinski (spelling?) told both the plaintiff and defendant that they needed to chill out in his published opinion.

    What is your solution? What do you want society to be like? Would you rather us be puritans who did not read 50 shades or abandon Evangelical Christianity all together?

    The entirety of the Human Condition might be hypocrisy. You can’t have it both ways but both ways is the only way we seem to want it.

    It might also be worth noting that Hollywood is not an Evangelical industry. Almost every major studio (exceptions Universal Artists and Disney*) were founded by poor Eastern European Jewish Immigrants. The Hayes Code was once described as “Catholics making Jewish films safe for a Protestant audience”. I can’t remember where I heard or read that description.

    *Disney was a notorious anti-Semite and racist of course.


    • I think some of that is a legal requirement. I think there’s a requirement that you defend your IP to some extent if you want to keep your copyright and whatnot, which leads to stupidity at times.


      • I think that is true for trademark* but not for copyright. A copyright is a monopoly, trademark is based on use. Even then, the big issue is preventing a trademark from becoming “generic”. The most famous example of this in the US is that “aspirin” became a generic term for headache medicine. In Europe, Bayer still holds a trademark on Aspirin. Xerox had to spend a lot of money on a PR campaign to make sure that Xerox did not become a generic term for “photocopy”


  9. “Porn versions of The Avengers, Batman and Cheers have all made their way into the market.”

    That’s some specialized niche marketing. I mean, I get the wanting to vicariously tumble in the sheets with Mrs. Peel (or, if I have the wrong Avengers, with Scarlett Johansen.). But the Batman’s a little weird (please tell me it’s not the Adam West version, Julie Newmar not withstanding).

    But to think that there are people that fantasize about the cast of Cheers is… unexpected.


  10. “I understand that it’s the letters H I V that get everyone’s attention, but I wish there was a little more attention paid the other health implications of a business built on such high volumes of unprotected sex. In Belladona’s post she talks about spending “every week at the doctor’s office clearing up an STD” before adopting her own 3-days prior testing policy. I hope “every week” is an exaggeration, but if HIV were out of the picture altogether, Belladona’s experience with STDs and the policies she’s adopted seems like more than enough reason to re-examine our attitudes about how pornography is manufactured.” — Tony Comstock, Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose, June 22, 2009


  11. “[E]ach test costs 120 bucks per performer each time. I work every day, you want me to get 10 tests a month? that 1200 bucks a month. Or are you suggesting producers pay for their talent’s new test every 3 days? Both are impractical unless you shoot 1-2 titles a month (like Belladonna).” Christian X, AdultDVDTalk, June 22, 2009


  12. For those unaware, the porn industry has gone in a humorous direction in recent years and parodies have become a popular sub-genre. Porn versions of The Avengers, Batman and Cheers have all made their way into the market.

    This has been going on for as long as I’ve been old enough to know what porn is. I know that in the 90s, if there was a hit movie, then there was always a porn version with a (sometimes) clever porn version of the title. I suspect there’s less reason to do it now, in fact, because of the way porn is distributed. That is, there was a time when titles and cover photos were all the movies had to set themselves apart. That’s no longer the case.


  13. I’m a bit confused about this, Mike. Are you saying there should be no difference between porn and sex scenes in a mainstream movie? I just tend to think there are differences. Yes, some movies blur the line, but there can be a difference between nudity and porn. I’ll be honest here; I’ve watched both and I can tell the difference.

    I also have to say that American squeamishness on sex isn’t simply the byproduct of evangelicals. If I remember correctly, mainline Christianity and Catholicism also had their prudes as well.

    One more thing: since Rod Dreher has been mentioned on this blog, I wanted to share a post he did a while back on nudity and porn:


  14. Dennis – I would say morally-speaking, no. And when you see movies like Monsters Ball it becomes even more fuzzy. I mean, at the end of the day you have two people engaging in physically intimate acts for money.

    To be more accurate American suppresion of sex probably began with the Puritans, but I do see the current climate as being directly linked to the Third Great Awakening in the United States.


    • Okay, so then what is the answer? Ban all nudity? Just let it, pardon the pun, let it all hang out and let anyone see anything?

      I guess I’m just having a hard time seeing what you’re getting at. I think that even though there are some events when things blur the catagories, I think it’s a bit too simplistic to see someone flashing a breast in the same light as seeing someone performing anal sex. I’m not saying there’s a bright shining line between the two, but I don’t think all nudity equals porn. Context matters.


      • Dennis – I’m not looking to ban anything. I’d actually like to see porn become more mainstream, have better production values and be protected in the same way movies are from copyright infringement, etc. I’d like to see X, XX, and XXX ratings to help with that process.


    • The Puritans loved sex. Roughly half the children born in Puritan families were born out of wedlock around 1600. Marriages were expensive: young people simply moved in together. There was a good deal of sexual contact prior to marriage and almost all of it with the family’s consent: everyone knew better than to play Hide the Sausage too early in the game but it did happen and nobody was surprised by a pregnancy. But marriage, well, that was a far bigger deal. It involved the Church and the State and once the banns were announced, there were big fines for backing out of a marriage.

      People didn’t live long lives then. Lots of people were dead by the age of 40. It simply was a different world. Prostitution was as common as dirt. But children were welcomed into the world back then and a good many of them arrived to unmarried couples.

      It wasn’t the Puritans who tried to suppress sex. They gloried in it and saw it as a mystical experience. It was the Church of England which suppressed sex.


          • I don’t see the 50 percent figure. All I see is that “”at least 50 percent of all nonmarital births were due to unexpectedly delayed marriages.” I can’t imagine 50% of the births were out of wedlock. That’s an extremely high rate.


            • In fact, on the next page it says that the rate of non-marital births peaked at 10%, and it’s clear that that was at a time with an anomalously high rate of out of wedlock births. Both before and after the peak, it gives a rate of about 1%.


            • So? It really doesn’t matter much. The Puritans were separatists and many of them were not traditionally married. To say the USA’s prudery about sex began with the Puritans flies in the face of the facts. (pdf)

              Puritans and other colonists alike believed that if lustful cravings were pent up, in time they would explode with detrimental consequence. When faced with an epidemic of sexual misconduct, Plymouth Governor William Bradford explained that when society suppresses matters of the flesh there remains an underlying desire to engage in illicit behavior. He compared restrained sexuality to dammed up water—once it “get[s] passage they flow with more violence, and make more noys and disturbance, then when they are suffered to rune quietly in their owne channels.”


          • To back Blaise up, there is a reference in Robert Morgan’s biography of Daniel Boone to unwed pregnancies on the frontier. I don’t remember the exact number (and I can’t find the citation in a quick web search) but a minister who worked on the frontier in the late 1700s said that well over 50% of the brides he married were already pregnant.


      • People didn’t live long lives then. Lots of people were dead by the age of 40.

        Actually, that’s not really true, at least on this side of the pond in the early days. Folks often didn’t survive childhood; many women died in childbirth, and surviving the voyage here could be tough. But if you survived childhood and childbirth, a sea crossing, and didn’t seriously injure yourself, you stood a pretty good chance of making it to 70. I worked at Plimoth Plantation, back in my youth, and the woman I portrayed, Mary Chilton Winslow, came on the Mayflower, and was one of the first settlers in Boston. She’s is buried at Kings Chapel; she was in her ’70’s when she died, and she gave birth 11 times. There are many other Puritans of similar age buried there, as well. Personally, I suspect it was the water — it was pretty clean and disease free here compared to what was available in either England or Holland at the time.

        But you are right about the puritans not being prudes; they were pretty vulgar, in the way Shakespeare is vulgar; remember that he spoke in the voices of the common man, not just the voice of the poet and bard we think him today. It was the Anglicans who were the prudes, Queen Elizabeth and her Virgin Queen married to her country business. Took the cloister and turned it into the court to prevent being a tool by the men around her. Perhaps this is what the Puritans were really seeking freedom from — the feminist queen who didn’t feel obliged to birth off a half-dozen sons.


    • Never seen it, but from the photos in your link I have to say the lead looks nothing like Jeff Bridge’s Lebowski and a whole lot like Christopher Guest’s Count Rugen in The Princess Bride. I think if I watched it I’d keep waiting for Mandy Patinkin to walk into the scene and announce he’d killed his father and should prepare to die..


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