Bozell Column: Porn, Just Another Business?
On society’s list of most shameful professions, the pornographer would be near the top. What must pornographers think of themselves? They would argue that their industry has joined the mainstream, yet for porn performers, it’s a sordid career fraught with perils of drugs, disease, and in the darker corners of porn, exploitation and abuse.
Take the case of a true pervert, Paul Little, who calls himself "Max Hardcore." The British author Martin Amis submerged himself in the sleaziest subcultures of sex on film for the British newspaper The Guardian a few years ago. He recalled the making of Little’s "Hollywood Hardcore 13." The film included a series of...excretory humiliations.
In these scenes, Little talks to down to actress Cloey Adams, who is pretending to be a child. "If you're a good girl, I'll take you to McDonald's later and get you a Happy Meal." After she submits to his disgusting desires, she then asks, "What do you think of your little princess now, Daddy?"
Just reading the gross-out titles of Little’s DVDs ought to tell the story. One of them is "Golden Guzzlers 7." Little has another series called "Anal Auditions."
Pardon the grotesque details, but they’re essential. The "mainstream" media simply omit these wretched realities in order to "mainstream" this kind of madness. Paul Little was indicted during the Bush years by the Department of Justice and convicted for distributing his pornography in the mail. He began serving a 46-month term in Los Angeles in January, while lawyers appeal the verdict.
And believe it or not, Little is now one of the sympathetic subjects of a new smut-exploiting CNBC documentary called "Porn: Business of Pleasure." On July 15, CNBC anchor Melissa Lee, the lead pseudo-investigator of the porn industry, presented Little as a First Amendment casualty.
She sat down with Little and asked sympathetically: "Are there plenty of things out there that there would be an audience for, but society says ‘Not for us’?" The line of questioning is chilling. Child pornography is something "there would be an audience for," yes. So, too, are snuff films. Would she scorn "society" for disapproving of those, too?
Little boasted in reply: "Society has spoken. There's more people buying my videos than there are people protesting my videos." Ditto, snuff films.
Clearly, not enough people have any idea of what kind of sickness reigns in Max Hardcore videos. CNBC was more interested in exploiting Little’s reputation, rather than denouncing it. "He’s the dirtiest man in America," they cooed in a promo, emphasizing the naughty fun, not the temptation to vomit.
In promoting her smutty documentary, the audaciously ambitious Lee played up the centrality of porn to American pop culture. "It’s as mainstream as [NBC’s] Must-See TV," she proclaimed on her regular CNBC show "Fast Money." NBC should have fired her on the spot for comparing their shows to "Golden Guzzlers 7."
CNBC’s porn extravaganza offered just two brief interruptions from porn critics. Pat Trueman appeared about halfway into the hour to explain how porn can be illegal. Recovered porn addict Michael Leahy appeared briefly to explain how his porn habit ruined his marriage and his relationship with his sons.
But viewers mostly saw a parade of pornographic product placement and cordial interviews with a series of porn-makers, including porn star-slash-Oklahoma mom "Jesse Jane," whose nine-year-old son doesn’t yet know "exactly" what his mother does for a living. The supposedly saddest moment is porn CEO Steven Hirsch lamenting that all the free-porn websites are killing his profits, and with the suspicion that free sites are pirating his films, "now we have to spend money policing the Internet." Cue the violins.
CNBC is the Consumer News and Business Channel, and what this has to do with news or business is beyond me. They’re trying to shore up their dreadfully low prime time numbers by celebrating all kinds of sleazy money-making schemes, and saying – and can’t you just hear this – "it’s a business like any other!" CNBC has also recently aired specials on prostitution, and on the marijuana business. This kind of special is the prostituting of journalism; this compares to "business news" about the same way that Nancy Grace’s lurid crime interviews compare to hard news.
Shame on CNBC for making no attempt to police the porn industry. Instead, viewers were urged to buy the documentary on DVD with "more [porn] star extras." If porn is just a business like any other, can we expect the next CNBC special to focus on sugar beet growers, or bicycle makers? I think everyone knows the answer.