Posted On February 26, 2014 By In Issues, The Scene, Up For Debate

Why Everyone Needs to Shut Up About the Duke University Freshman Porn Star

 
 

It seems the internet isn’t serving its function unless there’s something that everyone is foaming at the mouth about. Case and point: the recent upheaval surrounding a certain Duke underclassman that has sparked the largest feminist discussion this side of a Women’s Studies class. If for some reason you don’t know what I’m talking about, perhaps this will refresh your memory:

This little story sent the blogs, forums, online publications and YouTube channels into a tailspin over the past week. It seems everyone from Huffington Post to The Daily Beast and (alas), even we at Writtalin had something to say on the matter. Is “Lauren” – as she would like to be called – a hero of 3rd wave feminism and a role model for sexual liberation?  Does her participation in porn give license to the admonishment she’s received since her outting?  Does her subsequent dash into the spotlight negate the “I just want to be left alone” message she has since been spouting?  Or is it really none of our business?

Meanwhile, protesters are being mowed down in the streets of Venezuela and no one bats an eye.  I could wax poetic about America’s obsession with trivialities like the latest celeb coming out party over (Glob forbid) something that actually matters, but that’s not the point of this piece.  Even the sudden rabid obsession over “the patriarchy” – a word I’ve seen tossed around more in the past 7 days than in every humanities class I’ve taken combined – isn’t the point. It’s that everyone, everywhere seems to feel an obligation to voice his or her opinion, whether or not they know what they’re talking about.

I’m all for fueling a healthy discussion when the participants are well-informed about the topic, but unfortunately, the internet has given rise to soapbox culture. The ability to log in to Tumblr seems to be the only requirement to shout your message to the masses. Even I fall prey to this mentality. Someone gave me the ability to log into WordPress and boom, I’m entitled to shout my opinions at you in this article. But that’s just it, we are confusing our opinions for facts.  Suddenly the world is full of contradictory “facts” splayed against each other that do nothing but spark anger between opposing sides.  It makes us feel important, while we essentially sit back and do nothing.

Welcome to Politics 101

What’s worse is that this leads to a kind of sensationalism. Everything is the worst, best or most mediocre thing EVER!!! (with 3 exclamation points). If you don’t believe me, just read any BuzzFeed article ever written.  The only way writers can gain precious clicks in the increasingly cluttered market of viral journalism is through hyperbole and lots of it.  Less emphasis is put on the content of an article as long as you can get readers to click on your link. It’s what makes 34 GIFs That Sum Up Your First Sexual Experience” one of the hottest pieces on BuzzFeed right now.  Clickbait is now the industry standard and unfortunately we all must bend to its will sometime or other if we want to be heard.

How does this apply to “Lauren” and her ousted career?  Just take a look at the labels that have been thrust upon her.  Some praise her bravery and call her a feminist icon, others shout “whore” (derogatorily or not) and others still label her a hypocrite for embracing her career, but not accepting the consequences that come with it.  Then there’s the whole “male patriarchy precludes female sexuality” discussion as if “Lauren” were the first person ever to come under fire for her subversion of societal norms.  The web is abuzz with superlatives stamping her as the best, worst and most surprising story in human sexuality ever (EVER!), but what has this done to our perspective?  From what I’ve read, not a whole lot.  The mountains-out-of-molehills tendency of internet discussion rages on.

And as I said before, I chalk this up to a lack of perspective.  Let’s face it, most of us watch porn (and if you disagree, you’re probably lying).  Yet the double standard of denouncing porn stars and their craft is a favorite pastime of everyone with a keyboard.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that many of the people that victimized “Lauren” after finding out about her part time job  aren’t strangers to the likes of RedTube and YouJizz.

A screenshot from YouJizz – after my editor tweaked it a bit.

So how is it that you can enjoy the product but look down upon the craftsman?  It seems there’s a valley between the illusion and reality in the world of adult entertainment that doesn’t exist in Hollywood.  We know that Liam Neeson doesn’t really hunt terrorists for a living and that Morgan Freeman isn’t God (maybe), but we automatically equate what we see in porn for the real thing.  The fact of the matter is that porn stars are first and foremost actors, even if they’re paid to have sex for a living.

As a location sound mixer, I find myself working on a variety of different productions ranging from television to movies and sometimes (don’t tell my parents) porn.  Whenever my friends find out, they all don the same grave expression and ask me what it was like as if I just told them I once tasted human brains.  To be honest, porn sets don’t vary all that much from their Hollywood brethren, down to the way the crew prepare a scene and (get this), the way the actors behave.  I’d even go so far as to say that I prefer hanging out with them over so-and-so from my latest made-for-TV gig.  It’s no secret that as their fame expands, some SAG actors tend to become entitled prima donnas.  Good luck getting in to give them their wire before a scene.

Nobody make eye contact with Mr. Cruise!

But the porn stars I’ve worked with are friendly, relatable and grounded individuals that love talking about the latest episode of “House of Cards” as much as they love having sex on camera.  They’re people like you and me. Not heroes. Not pariahs. Just people.  And more importantly, people who like their job.  How many drones clock into their 9-to-5 and count the minutes until the weekend?  Enough that it’s a a stereotype.  So why should we care when people like “Lauren” find something that fulfill them just because we don’t like the idea of commoditizing sex?

In a recent study, porn stars reported higher levels of sexual satisfaction and self-esteem on average than people outside the industry.  Findings also debunked the damaged goods stereotype that was long taken as fact in the porn industry. Performers were no more more likely to have experienced childhood sexual trauma than control groups and actually scored higher on many psychological tests.  They’re just as healthy or healthier than you or me.

Sex is our anti-drug.

So again, why the uproar?  Why is “Lauren’s” story more inciting than the current upheavals in Ukraine and Venezuela?  And why are we all so quick to group her in one of many extremes?  She’s just a struggling college student trying to make ends meet doing what she loves to do.  Good for her.  End of story.  She doesn’t need the martyrdom, she doesn’t need the publicity, and she shouldn’t be slut-shamed.  She just is, like the other 7.14 billion of us.

So please, everyone get off your high horses and write about something that matters.  Doesn’t anyone care that “Game of Thrones” comes back in a month?

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Anthony Kozlowski is a music and entertainment writer for Writtalin. What are his qualifications? Well, he says he runs his own production company out of LA and works as a producer and sound mixer in the industry. But we don’t know if we believe all that. You can email Anthony at: anthonyk@writtalin.com

Сomments аrchive