A career in pornography, historically, was a sure fire way to negatively brand yourself forever; and yet, within today’s environment, this old adage couldn’t be dissolving at a faster rate. Suddenly, a widespread interest has emerged, in what’s been coined as a “new kind of porn.” One that sells actors who still produce hardcore erotica, but are perceived as multifaceted individuals, and lead visible, celebrated lives. Often portrayed as smart, and charming, they vie for the right to have one foot in each world, a cry that hasn’t gone unanswered. With recent portrayals including the blockbuster “Magic Mike” and fictions like “Fifty Shades” burning up the charts, an open acceptance of sex work is sweeping over North America. Sasha Grey and James Deen, bona fide porn stars, are at the vanguard of this shift, having been offered serious mainstream roles, while simultaneously changing how things are done in the adult market. It’s a movement not without its hiccups, yet despite shortcomings, the advent of “new porn” surprisingly, says something truly encouraging about the generation that’s driving it.

Many analysts, however, from the LA Times, and the Washington Post, have not been shy in disagreeing. They say that a silly, permissive generation, ruined by constant exposure to hardcore imagery, opened a Pandora’s box. They muse that our inability to separate private from personal and a world permeated by exhibitionism (i.e. Twitter and Facebook) have caused young people to embrace this odd melding of forms, to society’s detriment. Many of the pages read like the ramblings of bitter, old Luddites; aging writers slagging the next generation’s ‘new’ corruptions, completely glossing over the era of free love they sprung from themselves. A wholly chaotic movement, that one could argue the current philosophy of “sex positive living” is attempting to give order to. Being sex positive, after all, means squaring ethics and physical urges, embracing differences responsibly and honestly, something past generations never really could attempt, particularly when it came to porn, leaving all the difficult work for generation Y.

Photo Credit: Olivia Rutt

The second, strange claim, that the youth are somehow more perverted today, than they ever were before, is ridiculous. There may be less of a stigma, but the last generation, and the one before that, dealt with the same kind of problems on a much more muted, but equivalent scale. Pornographic content has always been around, think back to cave drawings of naked women, and even in more ‘respectable’ time periods there was some pretty edgy stuff. One quote from the Marquis De Sade would solidify this, but the point, is that it isn’t wanton depravity that compels this generation to embrace a more forthright kind of pornography, but rather the belief that hiding this contentious content is much more unhealthy.

Therefore, the perspective that this change is hedonistic is utterly backwards. Instead, it seems to be the result of a serious attempt at abolishing a very harmful cognitive dissonance. When our generation inherited the notion, sex isn’t evil; there was also an impetus to extend that explanation to all our cultural practices. Unfortunately, not only is classic adult material humorless, crude and sexist, but the gears working behind the scenes are even more repugnant; managers who bleed actors monetarily, rampant drug abuse, grueling schedules and STIs, most horrific though is the image it exudes. It knits a world of glitz and glamour, pushing vapid, big chested blondes and aggressive, bulky men, fuzzy lighting and terrible scores. The darkness beneath this fantasy image couldn’t help but disturb a generation who were promised that sex isn’t perfect, but it isn’t pervasive or harmful either.

Because of these findings, what we’ve come to seek and admire in porn actors and actresses has been radically changing, many say for the better. Grey, mentioned above, became famous in the mid 2000s, gaining respect outside the confines of pornographic film because of her astute manner. Sasha’s fans, who have carried over into her mainstream career, were quick to retweet perspectives on religion, philosophy and art, making the 22 year old a main staple on social media sites such as Reddit, where her opinions became quite respected. Even in porn circles, she was well known for her erudite nature, her skills and persona, all of which are a huge drawing factor for men and women who suddenly seem to find intelligence sexy. James Deen, also earlier mentioned, has become wildly successful precisely because of the publicized respect and attention he pays to his costars. Unlike the classic scenario of derogatory, nihilistic sexing, or BDSM practices which teeter on the cusp of abuse, there’s a much noted compassion in his method that has allowed him to build up a strong female fan base (a demographic classically ignored in porn) and has opened up entirely new, feminist, genres. Admittedly, all of this is a small bean in comparison to the larger ills of the industry, and yet it’s still far more than would have been accomplished if everyone had remained mum about this taboo subject.

For so long, the sex industry, and particularly porn, has served as a proverbial wild west, where ordinary people quietly go to get their jollies, as the kids say, while checking their conscience at the door. It’s a business that every practical person knows isn’t going away. In fact, even critics of this new fad aren’t bothering to suggest it. Yet, people enter the industry, are brutally used up, and subsequently dismissed by society, this is a reality. A sad one, since it appears so obvious that defiling, shaming and muting video stars, whom our culture so voraciously take from, is a very selfish and twisted thing to do. Truly, this is what makes the “new porn” movement so dizzying; there must be a recognition that the adult market is taxing, and even brutal at times, but also a moral acceptance that smothering it under a rock once again, will only make the malignancies fester. Young people today, to their credit, get this. They know that wanting real, complex beings, instead of just bodies, in adult entertainment isn’t perverted, in fact, just the opposite is true.

 

About The Author

Hello, my name is Leisha. I’m the opinion Editor for the Sputnik, the Managing Editor of the Brant Advocate, and in the past, wrote a student column for the Brant Expositor.

I have an amazing team who work to bring you interesting, and hopefully, thoughtful pieces. My writer Cody currently has a blog series, where he interviews influential and interesting individuals.

We’re passionate about telling evocative and honest stories.

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