Late last week, renowned director Axel Braun made a huge announcement – from here on out, he will only hire performers who are 21 years of age or older.
According to Axel (via AVN here):
“If the law says you are not old enough to handle alcohol responsibly, then you are probably not ready to make a career decision that will have such strong repercussions on the rest of your life,” Braun said. “After 23 years in the business I have come to strongly believe that an 18-year-old fresh out of high school has a completely different perspective on life than he or she will have three years later, and I just want to allow them enough time to make a more informed, mature decision. This may not be a popular choice, but it is a personal one, and it is what my conscience tells me to do. I simply don’t feel comfortable anymore shooting talent under 21.”Braun expounded, “I have always believed in the power of learning, and I am convinced that before jumping into a line of work that has such a short span with such long-term repercussions, kids should have a chance to consider pursuing a higher education.”
The director explained that this is a conviction he’s always held, but is only acting upon it now because “I am finally in a position where I can afford to do so.”
Acknowledging that his own decision to enact this policy will not keep those under 21 from choosing a career in porn, Braun reflected, “I’m not trying to change the industry. Do I wish this was an all-around policy? Absolutely. Do I have a political agenda? Not at all. I’m just doing what I think is right. The percentage of talent who start performing at 18 and are out of the industry by the time they turn 21 is staggering. Those are the ones who are not cut out for porn, and who could very well spend the rest of their lives regretting their choice.” (here)
This is complicated.
In thinking about this… well, many things. Aside from the obvious “some 18 year olds are way more mature than some 25 year olds (may ever be),” there’s also:
1. Axel is more than entitled to cast whoever he wants in his films…
(1a) …but I find it interesting that he felt compelled to do a press release regarding this particular decision. Especially if one’s “not trying to change the industry,” why not just do what you’re gonna do and call it a day? Why make it into a PR thing?
(1b) …and if Axel draws lines in his casting around arbitrary age, is this age discrimination? Consider his same proclamation (age restricted casting), but with a different set of criteria – what if he said he would not hire people over 30? Sounds different, right..?
2. Albeit informally and with occasional exception, there are a handful of producers who already abide by this 21+ casting line. Interestingly, in the past couple of years (as porn times get tougher and tougher), I have noticed this line becoming more permeable and inconsistent – what then does this say about us as consumers?
3. What does this entire decision say about paternalism?
In thinking about this over the past couple of days, I noticed nothing but cheers for Axel regarding this decision …and I cheered too – I think 18 is too young to be in porn, but that’s mostly because I remember how clueless I was at 18 – my assessment is based purely on my own subjectivity and experiences.
But what does this say about our regard for young adults? “Let us prevent you from making a decision that you can’t possibly be ready to make yourself, Young Person, because we know better!!” Isn’t that pretty presumptuous? Isn’t that logic akin to “Let me make decisions about your body, lady”-type rhetoric?
Personally and emotionally, I do not disagree with Axel’s decision. But we cannot ignore the fact that this is also a very slippery slope.
4. And what if there is a snowball effect? What if all the “reputable” companies make similar declarations (or even just informal decisions)? What then happens to all the 18, 19, and 20 year olds who really want to get into porn? Does that then put them at some sort of greater risk, entering porn with fringier, edgier, or just plain skeevy companies?
And is this line of thought not also extremely paternalistic? (yes, it is)
Yay, nay, or it depends – there is no one answer.
(pictured: Axel Braun, image from Google)
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