For this film, Tim Samuels set about trying to discover why porn is so readily available in almost every media and how come – no pun intended – it’s become a global money making phenomenon.
He began his enquiries, and film, in the village of Ardleigh which was once home to the legendary Mary Whitehouse. There, he spoke to many villagers about their feelings towards porn and with one bell ringing, church going chappy, he explored the many porn channels that are available on telly.
While flicking through the channels and proclaiming that it’s all dirty percy filth, what Samuels failed to ask the bell ringer is, “why do you have subscriptions to them then?” I’m assuming that he did since some of the TV screen footage showed the channels playing, but maybe they’d just tuned into those previews they do.
Tim then clumsily provided the incongruity juxtaposition of showing how he could connect to the net – and therefore seek out “hardcore pornography” – while sitting on the church steps. But who, in reality, does that?? Not many people I wouldn’t have thought.
However, what many, many people – some 40 billion per month in fact – definitely do is visit Scott Coffman’s brainchild, Pornotube, which has made him hugely rich. As with many good ideas, it’s a simple concept; users upload their amateur video and site visitors watch them. Coffman makes his wonga from the advertising that’s hosted on his site, and no matter what’s going on in the economy as a whole, sex sells.
There was one hideously awkward scene though when Tim visited the headquarters of Coffman’s business operation and was invited to try out the latest innovation in sex aids – a “touch for touch” gadget which apparently lets the user interact with whatever porno they’re watching.
“Whatever’s on the screen, you’re part of that experience” drawled Gonzo, one of Coffman’s boffins. We then saw Tim embarrassingly being asked how many fingers he’d like to place inside the gadget and he – and I – looked like it would be a good time to crawl into a corner and die. It was truly cringe making as we watched how said participation and interaction worked.
From there, Tim moved on to questioning how pornography has found its way into almost every nook and corporate cranny there is, and just how much money is being made from ever more inventive forms of streaming it onto our phones, TVs and computers. He also tried – but wasn’t quite convincing – to extrapolate on the moral rectitude of huge companies such as Visa and MasterCard taking their cut of the profits from porn.
He noted that if such companies were to take a “moral stance” against providing a payment gateway for pornography, it would hit the online porn industry hard, but the fact is, pornography – ‘standard’ pornography that is – is perfectly legal, so it would, in my opinion, be wholly inappropriate for any company to try to impose a “moral stance” against grown adults choosing to pay for pornography. After all, where would that end? Would Amazon be forced to stop selling erotic literature? Would newspapers be banned from paying models to pose topless? Would payments to strippers, male or female, be vetoed by such companies? No, I think not.
However, I digress; back to the programme and we heard and saw how pornography is readily available even in mud huts in Africa. Safe drinking water may be scarce, but T*ts As Big As Your Head are not similarly elusive. Samuels even met with one man who squarely blamed watching pornography for his HIV. But again, in my humble, that’s a bit like blaming McDonald’s adverts for getting fat…
Similarly, he spoke with actors who star in porn films and one in particular bemoaned the fact that he isn’t permitted to wear condoms during filming and therefore felt his health was being put at risk. However, nobody had a gun to his head forcing him to star in porn films for a living, and he was an articulate, intelligent man, so the simple answer for him was, leave the industry. So why didn’t he? Money. He could earn lots of it so he chose to take the chance.
Overall, it seemed that Samuels was trying to prove some huge corporate conspiracy about the profiteering from porn that, it was hinted, could extend right to the upper echelons of government. But, it all fell a bit flat from that point of view given that everyone who takes part in legal pornography is a grown-up and isn’t doing anything illegal.
He used ‘models’ Cathy and Steve to demonstrate his points about some of the large UK companies who are profiting from porn, but all that achieved, certainly in my living room, was giggles about Cathy’s rather large assets being stuffed into PVC and her accent, which could have been used as the blueprint for Dawn French’s Jam & Jerusalem character, Rosie. It also proved that some ‘models’ have literacy issues.
The film ended with the ‘revelation’ that Amazon had made money from selling Max Hardcore films and with one of its stars getting about three seconds of air time in order to complain about how she was treated during filming. If he was hoping to end with a punch, I’m afraid that fell flat too, delivered as that lady’s speech was to burlesque music.
So was it an entertaining programme? Yes. Was it proof positive that big companies have a keen eye for a lucrative market? Yes. Should we all boycott every major company who has an interest in the shady world of porn? Well, if we did, we’d pretty much have to move to Mars, so maybe it’s not very feasible. Good try though Tim, good try.