Porn News

For its producers, Porn is a Cash Cow

Hollywood- There’s a scene in “The Aviator” in which Howard Hughes (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) appears before a 1940s panel of Hollywood censors who are upset by Hughes’ new film. Their beef: The Production Code then in effect bans “suggestive postures and gestures,” and “The Outlaw” has Jane Russell in shirts that reveal the shape of her ample bosom.

“Unacceptable,” says one censor in “The Aviator.”

“Russell’s mammaries are no more prominent than any of these other fine ladies,” DiCaprio’s Hughes says, citing Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth and other actresses whose films had already been approved by the film board.

“The Aviator” was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director, but whether this $115 million drama wins a single Oscar at tonight’s ceremony, it has already succeeded in a fundamental way, by reminding a new generation of filmgoers just how far theatrically released movies have advanced in terms of nudity, sex and explicitness.

In Hughes’ day, skin couldn’t really be shown. Today, it’s routine. Take “Kinsey,” the Oscar-nominated film that details the life of sex researcher Alfred C. Kinsey. “Kinsey” shows the naked breasts of Laura Linney (the actress portrays Kinsey’s wife), two semi-naked men kissing (sex between males was banned under the Production Code), and actor Liam Neeson cutting his genitals to make them bleed (though we only see the blood, not Neeson’s reproductive organ).

Cinema’s new epoch — where sex is as common as a happy ending — has its detractors, especially conservative groups that bemoan the evolution of a medium they say has tremendous influence on American society. The Family Research Council, Catholic Outreach and Abstinence Clearinghouse are among the organizations that publicly condemned the release of “Kinsey.”

Matthew Pinto, president of Ascension Press (which published an anti-Kinsey book), has said the movie represents “Hollywood’s latest assault on the morals of the American public.” Critics such as Pinto believe this “assault” is also being fomented by rap artists, pop singers (exhibit A: Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl), TV producers and other people in entertainment, but they say Hollywood warrants special criticism because movies occupy such a prominent place in our culture.

With billions of dollars at stake, Hollywood can’t afford to ignore critics who says its films have crossed a line. The standard answer from studios and industry bigwigs: The ratings system lets audiences know how explicit a film is; if an audience flocks to see a movie with sex and violence, that’s their right. The truth is that Hollywood censors itself. Studios know that an NC-17 rating is economic poison because it prohibits a huge market of filmgoers (those 17 and younger) from seeing it. The studios’ bottom line is more important than their desire to show a bare bottom.

Still, the American people have shown they want sex in movies — at least in ones they can watch in the privacy of their own homes. The porn industry is a $10 billion-a-year business that has changed American standards of decency. It’s no coincidence that explicitness in American cinema has grown along with porn consumption. At a time when a sex film like “Voyeur Vol. 3: Switching Partners” is available on Amazon.com (for $19.95, no ID required), it’s not surprising that “Kinsey” shows adulterous relationships that lead to bedroom climaxes. The sex in “Kinsey” is relatively tame, although the market for DVDs has put a new spin on the meaning of “director’s cut.”

The “Uncut Director’s Edition” of “In the Cut,” for example, features a graphic scene in which Meg Ryan watches a woman perform oral sex on a man. When the film was released theatrically in 2003, that scene was toned down by director Jane Campion, although “In the Cut” was still given an R rating for nudity and raciness. Even in the R-rated version, Ryan, the all-American girl from “When Harry Met Sally,” goes topless and, at one point, has implied cunnilingus with her boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo).

Some critics see a correlation between the amount of sex in films and the overall decline in the quality of movies. These critics aren’t complaining on moral grounds but artistic ones. For all the headlines it generated two years ago about Ryan’s nudity, “In the Cut” was a critical flop that failed to deliver a realistic plot or much of anything else.

“There’s sex everywhere in Hollywood these days but very little eroticism, ” says Camille Paglia, the well-known culture critic and academic, in an e- mail to Insight. “Sex has become forced, crass, blatant and dully routine. The industry has regressed to snickering adolescence and has lost the ability to show the mystery and glamour of sex, which Hollywood ironically did so well during the era of the production code.”

Paglia’s last point could be argued. Hughes’ “The Outlaw,” which was released in 1943, is a meandering work whose approach seems childish. Russell’s performance is almost comical, and her pouty lips and plunging neckline are more memorable than any mystery or glamour the film might possess. Still, Brandeis Professor Thomas Doherty says the Production Code had an indirect impact on the Golden Age of American filmmaking: the period in the late 1960s and early 1970s when films like “The Graduate” and “Midnight Cowboy” proved that Hollywood films could successfully explore issues around sex and desire.

Not only were these films hits at the box office, they were acclaimed by critics and by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gave the X-rated “Midnight Cowboy” its Best Picture honor in 1970. The Production Code, which was supported by religious groups, was officially replaced by Hollywood’s ratings system in 1968.

Studios started ignoring the code even before then, Doherty says, exemplified by the sex and violence in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film “Psycho.” Another crucible is “Deep Throat,” www.xxxdeepthroat.com the 1972 porn film that showed the general public would pay money to see sex on a movie screen. Jackie Onassis, Johnny Carson and Barbara Walters were among the filmgoers who saw Linda Lovelace perform the title act on Harry Reems, according to “Inside Deep Throat,” the new documentary that features photos of Onassis walking out of a New York theater where “Deep Throat” was playing. Made for just $25,000, “Deep Throat” has taken in $600 million, according to “Inside Deep Throat,” making it one of the most profitable films in movie history.

It also made history for being one of the first to warrant federal prosecution: Government authorities used obscenity laws and other statutes to go after Reems and the organized-crime figures who financed the picture. At the end of “Inside Deep Throat,” federal prosecutor Larry Parrish says these same laws could be used today to prosecute pornographers who produce movies that are offensive to community standards. In fact, Parrish says this would be a reality were it not for the government’s priority of battling terrorism.

For its producers, porn is a cash cow — which is why Hollywood studios may one day own porn studios. “It’s possible,” says Linda Williams, a professor of film studies at UC Berkeley and the author of “Hard Core: Power, Pleasure and the Frenzy of the Visible.” “They might want to diversify that way, because they could count on the proceeds from pornography. They can’t count on the latest blockbuster.”

Williams argues that “Kinsey” doesn’t go far enough in portraying the real life of Kinsey, whose Kinsey Institute pioneered the field of sex research. Williams uses the word “cautious” to describe “Kinsey” and the approach Hollywood takes to showing sex and eroticism on screen, especially compared with European cinema. Although there’s a general perception that Hollywood films are saturated with sex, Williams says there’s more talk of sex in American cinema than actual sex.

Still, if “Kinsey” wins an Oscar for Linney as Best Supporting Actress, look for the “decency” crowd to wage a new campaign against the movie and Hollywood. Standards have changed greatly in 60 years, but the level of shouting always seems to remain the same.

229 Views

Related Posts

KOSA Sponsors Praise Surgeon General’s Endorsement of Mental Health Labeling for Websites

WASHINGTON — The main sponsors of the controversial Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) bill urged her fellow lawmakers to fast track the controversial bill, after the Democratic administration’s surgeon general called on Congress to mandate “mental health warnings” on social…

X’s Porn-Recognition AI Survives Illinois’ Biometric Privacy Law Challenge

CHICAGO — A lawsuit filed under Illinois’ unusual state law targeting biometric data collection has spotlighted an AI program used by X since 2015 to identify nudity and NSFW images.The lawsuit is a proposed class action suit filed by lawyers…

Elegant Angel Releases 1st Installment of ‘Best New Starlets 2024’

PITTSBURGH — Elegant Angel has released the first installment of its latest release, "Best New Starlets 2024."The scene, titled "Best Feeling Ever," stars XBIZ Best New Performer nominees Lily Starfire and Summer Vixen, along with Isiah Maxwell."This scene is one…

Wicked Drops 2nd Installment of Seth Gamble’s Erotic Thriller ‘Iris’

LOS ANGELES — Wicked Pictures has released the second installment of reigning XBIZ Performer of the Year Seth Gamble's latest feature, "Iris." The erotic thriller stars Blake Blossom in the title role, along with Emma Hix, Jennifer White, Charles Dera,…

Anti-Pornhub Attorney Expands Strategy to ‘Name and Shame’ Finance Companies

LOS ANGELES — A legal team headed by Michael J. Bowe, the former lawyer for Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr., has recently expanded its strategy in a series of ongoing legal actions against Aylo over user-uploaded content on Pornhub allegedly…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.