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Is the Internet Killing the Pornography Plot?

from – When you sit down to watch some pornography, chances are you log into your laptop. If you do watch a DVD, it’s more likely to be a series of contextless sex scenes than the kind of plot-heavy porn that reigned when production was the sole domain of the pornographic film industry.

And as a new generation of consumers turns to video-sharing Web sites like that provide short clips of free X-rated content, it’s unclear whether studios will continue to invest in polished features with special effects and real scripts.

Before free video-sharing Web sites existed, adult-film studios churned out plot-rich features such as Vivid Entertainment’s “Fade to Black,” Wicked Pictures’ “Falling From Grace” and Digital Playground’s 2005 blockbuster “Pirates,” where 18th-century swashbucklers fight for a magical scepter on high seas filled with porn stars.

During the Golden Age of adult film, feature titles covered every genre from science-fiction to film noir. These days, most pornography casts aside traditional plot elements like exposition in favor of short clips that get right to business.

So is there a future for the plot in pornography?

Alexa’s list of the top 100 Web sites in the United States includes five video-sharing Web sites, among them at 36 overall. Those Web sites serve up short bits of footage, some of which barely have dialogue and others featuring clichéd plots with pizza deliverymen. File-sharing Web sites also offer amateur footage and copyrighted material uploaded by users.

Steven Hirsch, co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment, told The New York Times in July 2009, “On the Internet, the average attention span is three to five minutes.” He continued, “We have to cater to that.”

The customer is always right, right? But porn consumers are a large, amorphous group, and online they can be anonymous. So it’s difficult for the industry to know what exactly the customers want.

In the Times story, Joone says that of Digital Playground’s 60 productions to date that year, roughly 30 had little or no plot, up from about 10 two years ago. However Joone says that Digital Playground is committed to plot-driven features.

“Digital Playground movies are couples-friendly and tailored towards experienced people who will want to watch the whole feature,” says Joone. He says that the studio will emphasize feature-based films “because when you do vignettes and clips, they become clips … It’s no longer an experience, and the viewer kind of gets lost.”

But in a world where many Internet users have never seen a VCR, let alone watched porn on a VHS tape when films would run as long as mainstream movies, many guys just want a short clip to get the job done.

At least one thing is certain: Plot or no plot, pornography is here to stay.


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