PVV – Ashley Samson Savanna Madison!!

So today I saw an interesting headline…

“Savanna Samson to Star in Commercial for AshleyMadison.com – The ‘infidelity service’ will be a sponsor of the upcoming 2011 AVN Awards” (story here)

Now, Ashley Madison has nothing to do with the adult industry, but Savanna Samson (pictured) and the 2011 AVN Awards do (because it’s awards season soon, remember!?)… so PVV, why not?

I’ve known about Ashley Madison for years now, but I’ve never really picked apart how I feel about Ashley Madison until today. But first off, for those of you who are going “What/who the hell is Ashley Madison?”…

AshleyMadison.com is an online dating-ish service started in 2001 by CEO Noel Biderman.  The site’s target consumer is already in a relationship but looking for a little discrete action on the side, hence “dating-ish.” Ashley Madison also welcomes singles, is queer friendly, and has a reported 5-6 million registered users. Its trademarked tag is: “Life is short. Have an Affair.”

Now I admit it – when I first heard of Ashley Madison I was moderately appalled, but not because I think marriage is some sacred union and how dare Noel Biderman contribute to the further unraveling of it!!, oh no.*  I was appalled because I think cheating in general is pretty fucked up.

This is not to say that I feel some form of monogamy is right for all people (it’s not), but if at least one member of a romantic relationship understands that relationship to be closed… well then, renegotiation of the rules and/or a termination of said relationship’s contract needs to happen before one goes looking for some new ass – call me old-fashioned, but I’m just sayin.’

So before today, I was kind of inclined to hate on Ashley Madison; but then I saw these two clips that got me thinking… First, we have Noel Biderman as a guest on “The View:”

One: who is this annoying blonde woman?! (I don’t watch “The View”)  Two: simmer down with the judgment Barbara Walters!!  And three: go Whoopi with your thoughtful points and crowd wrangling.

Whoopi had some interesting things to say and, in between explaining “Chuck E. Cheese’s for Cheaters,” Noel Biderman had some good points too – his moderately skeevy ad is not going to convince anyone to have an affair (I agree that, if relevant, such groundwork is likely present before one ever even registers with the site), and Ashley Madison does seem to level the infidelity playing field by making sure everyone is on the same proverbial page. Well, everyone except for the oblivious potentially-cheated-on partners. Hmmm…

And then there’s this second clip wherein Dr. Drew Pinsky weighs in on Ashley Madison on Larry King Live. Check it out:

Dr. Drew clearly has some strong and less-than-positive feelings about the issues being raised, but I don’t think they are targeted at Ashley Madison. If I understand him correctly, Dr. Drew is basically saying that sex has become the foreground and meter for all romantic relationships. Good fucking, good relationship. Lukewarm blow job, lukewarm romance. Bad Valentine’s Day? Fuck someone else! The ability to negotiate intimate relationships requires work, and the willingness to do that work seems to be slipping according to Dr. Drew.  Infidelity and Ashley Madison are then symptoms of deeper social ails rather than social ails themselves.  Hmmm…

It’s interesting to think of Ashley Madison, Noel, and the people who use it as bad; but it’s even more interesting to think of Ashley Madison as an artifact of larger, more complex issues. I’m not saying I agree with Dr. Drew or Noel or even Whoopi, but I do think Ashley Madison points to something beyond all-or-nothing, good or bad.  Moreover, issues of in/fidelity, cheating, sex, monogamy, and marriage are further complicated when considering the particular individuals and the individual relationships involved.  Hmmm…

And what does this have to do with porn?  Well aside from Savanna being in the commercial and Ashley Madison’s AVN Awards sponsorship, nothing – nothing, that is, except for the fact that people often blame porn for destroying marriages and relationships too.

Want another Ashley Madison ad (in case the one on “The View” wasn’t enough)?  Then watch Savanna’s – she’s legendary!!

* We’ve all heard that stat “50% of all marriages end in divorce,” yes?  Well, according to the US Census Bureau (a questionable source, I admit; but it’s all I got!), in 2006-2008 only about 50% of the population over the age of 15 was married. The other 50% was not, but not necessarily because of divorce – people were divorced and widowed, separated, or never married.

These percentages vary between women and men and over individual life course.  So, for example, the “never married” percentage decreases with age, while the “divorced” percentage tops out in the late 40s/early 50s and then decreases (stats here).

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