Something transcendental, mystical, and out-and-out epic has recently occurred…
My paper, “From The Devil in Miss Jones to DMJ6 – power, inequality, and consistency in the content of US adult films,” has been published in the most recent issue of the scholarly journal Sexualities (13:5).
(fyi, that means “yay!” in nerd spaz)
For those of you familiar with the grueling and time-consuming odyssey that is academic publishing, you can imagine my elation. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, suffice it to say that I wrote this paper about two years ago, the review process is extremely in-depth, and it usually takes anywhere from six months to one year to print something once it has been accepted. Eeesh!!
Now I know you all totally want to read a 20-page scholarly paper about adult film content – duh!! who wouldn’t want to do that??!! – so here it is… but just in case your lawn needs mowing or your eyebrows need waxing and you’re too busy to cuddle up with my most recent treatise, here’s the low down…
I explore these questions in this paper:
1. What patterns and trends emerge from the content of key adult films?
2. What can these patterns and trends tell us about developments in the adult film industry?
3. And what do these patterns and trends reveal about sexualities in wider society?
In order to do this, I conducted a thematic content analysis of 26 “key adult films” – films that were well-received by the general public and by the industry itself – in order to investigate patterns and trends occurring in US adult film industry production and development between 1972 and 2005.
I go in to great and grave detail about how I selected the films I use in this study. This is super important as most work you read about adult content is based on either 1) only one or two examples (which are actually usually more like “exceptions”) or 2) some wacked out, cherry-picked “sampling” of films chosen to make a point. In order to be fully transparent and systematic and attempt to approach representation, I may even over-share my methods. (nerd alert!! – I think that kind of stuff is super interesting though!!). I also made sure to contextualize the content and discuss what was going on in the wider world at the time of production, as this may have shaped what we eventually saw on the screen.
These are only some of the things I “find:”
1. Sex depictions presented in this sample of adult films are consistent – what you can see in 2005 and 1998 you can also see in 1985 and 1973.
2. Women talent have changed from all sorts of white women (varying in age, body type, etc) to one sort (skinny and young) of all kinds of women (racial and ethnic diversity).
3. Black men talent are consistently presented in very problematic ways.
These are some of the things these findings get at and/or mean:
1. what constitutes “pornographic” changes over time (duh!!).
2a. changes to and developments in adult film content are the product of a symbiotic relationship existing between producers, consumers, and regulators.
2b. as such, problematic depictions of black men talent point to deep-seated US cultural racism and inequality. Problematic representations of black men talent in adult films both shore up, and are simply indicative of, said racist inequality.
3. contrary to popular rhetorical notions that adult content is getting more “extreme,” it’s not… at least not in the most widely-consumed and well-regarded adult films. There may certainly be some crazy, dirty, and even rooouuugh content produced by some random janky fly-by-night companies, but this content is far from the norm.
That’s it!! That’s a lot. There’s much more to each of those points and much more to the paper in general, but that’s why you’re gonna have to read it – haha… sorry!
Here are a couple of the things I did not explore, but not because I forgot… because there are only so many things you can do in one paper. I will get to them eventually:
1. men: aside from talking about problematic representations of black men talent, I don’t really discuss men talent in general too much at all. This was a choice I made in an attempt to address what most research and rhetoric seems pre/occupied with – women. I will get to the boys someday though!
2. online stuff: I really stuck to the idea of adult films proper and don’t touch on the scene-by scene stuff and/or the impact of online distribution at all. This was also a choice I made in order to focus on addressing another commonly discussed dimension – the content itself. I will get to the impact of the interwebs, et al someday as well!
So there you have it, bebes!! Check it out in its entirety, and tell me what you think <3
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You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Porn Valley Vantage, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.pornvalleyvantage.com).”