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Exploitation Gone Wild

WWW- “This video contains adult content not suitable for children. … What would you do if you had this bus, this jet, this car and these college girls ready to bare it all?”

If you’ve ever watched Comedy Central or E! after midnight, these words probably sound just a bit too familiar to you. They are, of course, the opening words to commercials advertising the ethically warped “Girls Gone Wild” video series.

These videos, for those of you living under a rock, feature girls flashing their breasts and making out with each other in exchange for T-shirts. Created by Mantra Entertainment founder Joe Francis, the films are based on the fact that drunken girls are willing to do sexual things when men ask.

Now before I proceed to deride “Girls Gone Wild,” it’s important to understand that I am in no way opposed to pornography, pre-marital sex, alcohol, partying or any other spring break-related debauchery. In fact, many of the aforementioned vices are quite worthwhile.

I am, however, absolutely disgusted by the way the 32-year-old Francis and his pack of cronies have made millions of dollars by filming inebriated college, and even high school, girls. Without question, producing these videos is ethically reprehensible. In a truly just world, these videos wouldn’t be legal to make or sell.

The ethical problem with these videos is they capitalize on the reduced inhibitions and absent forethought of intoxicated girls. This is predatory. To prevent such acts, the Connecticut General Assembly decided that inebriated persons cannot legally consent to sexual relations.

Yet, for some reason, in states where “Girls Gone Wild” videos are filmed, drunken girls can legally consent to being taped engaging in sex and sexual behavior. This is an unquestionable fault in the law. Drunks simply cannot consent to appearing in pornography.

In order to get an idea of just what was on these tapes, I borrowed a copy of “Girls Gone Wild: Ultimate Spring Break.” What I found on that tape was disturbing, and I’ve seen quite a few disturbing things in my day. Allow me to provide some statistics, to give insight as to how revolting this video truly is.

In this short one-hour video, I personally counted 29 flashers that were recognizably drunk. Six of these inebriated flashers were holding a drink when approached by the cameraman and had to find someone to hold their beer before they could flash. Two girls were so drunk that they even fell down. Obviously, these girls are not sober and Mantra knows it; yet the crew films them without qualms.

Worse, in 27 instances, the cameramen provoked the girls into doing things they hadn’t planned on doing. This provocation resulted in girls flashing for longer than they had intended (as the price of a “Girls Gone Wild” shirt is a minimum of five seconds of exposure), doing topless jumping jacks and kissing or rubbing up against other topless girls. In 13 instances, in addition to the cameramen, crowds of jeering guys also provoked these girls to act for the camera. Clearly, these young women are pressured into committing these acts.

Most disgusting is that bystadners often touched the girls because of their decision to flash. In an astounding 12 instances, guys near the topless girls felt that it was perfectly acceptable to touch the girls’ exposed breasts. Evidently, exposure is grounds for assault in the “Girls Gone Wild” universe. Now, while Mantra can’t be held responsible for the actions of random guys, they are responsible for creating the situation that encouraged the inebriated guys to cop a feel.

Another depraved segment of the tape was a 22-minute scene featuring two best friends from Illinois that went from making out to performing oral sex on each other at the suggestion of the cameramen. Such lengthy and graphic footage goes well beyond mere playful flashing — it’s porn. Yet, they weren’t paid like porn stars — they got some shirts. Is it right that Francis is able to get his hands on an explicit sex scene by paying in T-shirts? Is it right that he then turns around and sells the footage, which made up more than a third of the hourlong “Ultimate Spring Break” tape, in a video for $19.99?

Obviously not. In a twist of sick irony, before the scene one of the girls proudly exclaimed, “What happens in Panama stays in Panama!” Unfortunately for these girls, this popular spring break adage is no longer valid in a world with “Girls Gone Wild.” Thanks to Francis, these girls can relive their vague drunken memories with their friends, their families, prospective employers and even their pastors. Oh right, and with millions of strangers.

These girls were unquestionably exploited. Accordingly, many girls appearing in the videos have filed lawsuits against Francis and Mantra Entertainment because they (rightly) believe that they were taken advantage of. Aside from the fact that Mantra capitalized on their intoxication, which is the primary reason for many of the lawsuits, some young women have also claimed that they were minors at the time of filming. Others say they were put in the videos against their will, including a single mother who ended up on the cover of a heavily advertised video. A few girls even said they were offered illicit drugs, including marijuana and ecstasy, by Francis and rapper Snoop Dogg.

Yet it’s not just the exploited girls that have sued the slimy Francis and his Mantra Entertainment. Buyers of the “Girls Gone Wild” videos have also had their share of complaints, filing a class action lawsuit alleging that Mantra has sent them unwanted merchandise and made unauthorized charges to their credit cards. Allegedly, Francis’ company signed up buyers for a monthly tape membership after their first purchase without their explicit consent and then used bad customer service and disconnected calls to make it exceedingly difficult to cancel this membership.

So let’s recap, shall we? When he makes his videos, Francis takes advantage of drunken girls, getting them to degrade themselves for virtually zero financial compensation. When he sells these videos, he allegedly takes advantage of his customers by billing them for unwanted merchandise. In short, Mantra Entertainment is not only taking advantage of its films’ stars but also allegedly taking advantage of buyers. Francis is really fleecing everyone involved in his sick game.

American society needs to be less “wild” about “Girls Gone Wild.” I sincerely hope that no one ever buys another “Girls Gone Wild” tape — doing so only fuels the unethical Francis, encouraging the future exploitation of women yet to go wild.



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