PVV – porn all over the Mapona!!

The most exquisite activist feminist bebedoll darling, AD, recently brought this article about Mapona (2010), the first South African adult film produced to feature an all-black cast, to my attention.  Soon after, NA provided me with another write-up about the same film.

With all the recent talk about condom use and STIs in the US/California adult content production industry, I found Mapona interesting for several reasons…

According to David Smith of guardian.co.uk, Mapona (which means “naked” in SeSotho) was made in response to demands from members of the amateur porn site, Sondeza.com. Most adult films consumed in South Africa are of US, Asian, or European origin. Although black talent are not featured predominantly in any of these nation’s respective content, US productions (at least) do feature an appreciable amount of black performers.

But, regardless of what can be found in internationally produced porn, South African produced content has been dominated by white performers. Sondeza’s reported 30,000 subscribers were rallying for some local black talent, so producer Tau Morena decided to give it to them.

Morena held an open audition that was attended by 50 people and ended up casting three women and two men in the hour-long hardcore production.  Morena had each of Mapona’s cast members test for HIV and other STIs (they all were clear) and the men performers wore condoms during all of the… ummm… relevant scenes.

I find this very interesting.

According to Smith, South Africa is “burdened by the world’s biggest HIV caseload, [which kills] nearly 1,000 people a day.” As a result, Morena said he was conscious of the need to promote responsible sex behavior by featuring condoms in his film. To me, this sounds like good idea: show members of an at-risk community engaging in safer sex practices (ie condom use) on film. Ideally, other members of said at-risk community who are watching said film (Mapona) will internalize the “safer sex practice” message to some degree.

I have heard this same rational/argument from gay porn producers in the US …things along the lines of: “Using condoms in gay porn promotes safer sex behavior in an at-risk community and is, thus, socially responsible.”  This also makes sense to me, but scholars have described the complexities surrounding consuming and internalizing media messages.  You never can tell what people are going to get out of whatever it is that they’re seeing or hearing. In other words, what message will people take from Mapona? What good will showing safer sex practices to an at-risk population actually do? I am inclined to think that such depictions are “worth it” simply for the sake of doing the socially responsible thing, but who knows.  It’s an interesting debate.

Another interesting thing is that the Mapona performers were all STI tested and clear of sexually transmitted infections in addition to being barrier protected. This makes me wonder if performers’ STI statuses and/or the fact that they were tested is also something Morena is emphasizing…

In spaces where barrier protection is a trickier issue, such as in the straight production segment of the US adult industry, talent are tested regularly and know each others’ HIV/STI statuses before working. To me, this practice highlights the importance of 1) regular STI testing, 2) having an awareness of one’s STI status, and 3) being willing to discuss STI status-related issues with relevant individuals, such as potential work and private sex partners.

Perhaps if the straight porn production community in the US was to highlight the safer sex practices it employs (ie regular HIV/STI testing), consumers watching their work would internalize this safer sex practice message to some degree… It’s an interesting idea.

(pictured: image from Sondeza.com’s facebook page for Mapona, link here)

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