e_legs

For Porn, Things Are Hard All Over

In Consumerism, Misc., Sexuality, Technology on June 12, 2007 at 12:27 pm

It looks as though the new online economy is claiming yet another casualty of the old guard. Though it initially led to a renaissance of the industry, the internet has caused the Porno business to fall on hard times:

After years of essentially steady increases, sales and rentals of pornographic videos were $3.62 billion in 2006, down from $4.28 billion in 2005, according to estimates by AVN, an industry trade publication. If the situation does not change, the overall $13 billion sex-related entertainment market may shrink this year, said Paul Fishbein, president of AVN Media Network, the magazine’s publisher. The industry’s online revenue is substantial but is not growing quickly enough to make up for the drop in video income.

Don’t worry, it happens to a lot of industries. It seems that smut is no more immune to changing tastes and increased competition than any other media. If anything, it may be signaling a sea change in consumer attitudes:

And unlike consumers looking for music and other media, viewers of pornography do not seem to mind giving up brand-name producers and performers for anonymous ones, or a well-lighted movie set for a ratty couch at an amateur videographer’s house.

Purveyors of the (not-so-fine) art form are also separating themselves from their mainstream counterparts in their responses to the changing zeitgiest with a renewed commitment to their content. Whereas music industry executives continue to churn out lackluster – if not outright mediocre – product from ever-shrinking stables of artists with little added value, those in the Adult Industry are taking it up a notch:

To counter the trend, Joseph says the company plans to start giving film buyers an extra promotional DVD with more scenes from its movies, which typically cost $20. He also plans to improve the packaging of his DVDs….

He said he was sticking to his plan to film his movies in exotic locations like Brazil or simulating them with elaborate sets. For one movie, Nectar built an elaborate set that included a waterfall in a warehouse in Canoga Park, California. It is not your everyday backdrop for hard-core sex, Logan noted: “It looks like ‘Lord of the Rings.’ “

This, though, is missing the point. There are few people who watch porn to take in the elaborate production value, and even less who give a damn about packaging. There’re few guys who would be willing to display their copies of “Anal Invasion” if it had that new holographic cover – “It jumps off the page…” Granted, a cleaner look and more polished execution can make a scene more appealing, and one would think a better product would lead to better sales, but porn is obviously unlike any other product.

It is most likely consumed at a greater rate than any other product on the web, and even before this internet thing, young men all over got their first taste of sex-ed through their dad’s hidden stash. It used to be when these kids got older, they were forced into embarassing situations in order to begin their own stash – having to actually be seen around the stuff – but the internet has allowed for a completely new relationship with porn, and subsequently ourselves. The combination of a substantial increase in adult content with greater access and lower risk has allowed everyone to explore the myriad ways we get off and finding new ways to get off ourselves. This changed tastes by not only introducing everyone to unseen material, but also allowed the social stigmas of shame to fall by the wayside. Taking porn out of the peep shows and onto the PC has somewhat normalized the act of watching – and making – adult videos, and as such has created unforeseen consequences in the industry:

“People are making movies in their houses and dragging and dropping them” onto free Web sites, said Harvey Kaplan, a former maker of pornographic movies and now chief executive of GoGoBill.com, which processes payments for pornographic Web sites. “It’s killing the marketplace.”

….

“The barrier to get into the industry is so low: You need a video camera and a couple of people who will have sex,” Fishbein said.

This is nothing new, we’re all aware of the prevalence of user-generated content on the web – you’re lookin at it now – and it’s only natural that the trend continue and begin affecting our baser instincts. This is ultimately about pleasure, yes, but this also reflects a shift in consumer attitudes away from top-down, professionally slick presentations to something more authentic and believable. It seems more and more that the consumer has developed a tolerance for – if not outright immunity to mainstream products and ad campaigns; eBay, MySpace, YouTube, they all show that the only purveyors we really trust are ourselves. No matter how good the lighting or the airbrushing, we still see the wrinkles. Despite the earnestness of their panting, the deep, guttural moans and animalistic screams of assumed ecstasy, we know they’re faking.

Though the picture is a little grainy and out of focus, and the couple isn’t making Maxim’s Hot 100 anytime soon, we know that there is no crew, no contract, no paycheck, no profit-sharing; this is a genuine, raw, unadulterated, just the way we like it. We see in them ourselves, in the sharing comes our pleasure and we bite our bottom lip.

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