A Brainstorm: Why Indie Porn (and etc) is Doing So Well

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I was watching some very singular entertainment the other day… long story. Hard to describe. A review will be out on WHACK! Magazine soon. But the point is that it was porn-y in its intentions, but absolutely not porn-y in its execution. We’re talking absolutely no nudity, no sexual contact between performers, not even any swearing. But it’s porn-y because it features female superheroes in skin-tight latex and spandex outfits being tortured by bad guys in the cheesiest imaginable ways: the women are tied up and wriggling against their restraints, passed out in provocative positions, tied together and wriggling, and so on and so forth. It’s basically entirely innocuous, yet totally jerk-off-able at the same time.

It cracked me up. And it interested me a lot more than most porn does. I wasn’t quite sure what they were going for, but I know being sexy was a big part of it. And yet just a part. The bad dubbing and terrible acting and weird sets were a point of interest on their own terms, and the hilariously bad, alliteration-filled dialogue was another. There was a whole lot going on here besides sexiness, and that made it fun to watch.

And I suddenly had a whole avalanche of brain activity. I don’t know much about how or when or by whom these videos were made (I’ll find out soon–interview is forthcoming), but videos like this are more popular than ever. There are lots of reasons for that, including that there is more access to more media for more people than ever before, but what I mean is that people seem to be getting interested in sexy/sexual entertainment across a much broader spectrum these days, and lots more people are making it. Again, there are lots of reasons for this, not least of which is the access that more and more people have to video-making technology. But what really struck me was how much this not-porn was like indie porn in that it was going about being tantalizing in a totally different way from what most of us have gotten used to. Whereas hardcore porn used to be the most widely available, most sought-after, and most widely distributed form of sexy film, these days indie porn and its ilk are making a huge dent on the map of smutty entertainment. And I think I get why this is happening on a deeper-than-the-technology level.

My generation (by which I mean late-twenties, early-thirties children of the eighties) have had more and easier exposure to pornographic materials than any generation in history, as far as we know. We got scrambled cable porn in our childhoods, but by the time most of us reached high school we could access hardcore porn online in picture or video form. When we got to moving-out, undergrad, experimenting age, the internet porn revolution was nearing its peak; the content we could find with a quick internet search was vast, varied, and incredibly hardcore as gonzo porn reigned supreme. When we started getting older and pairing off, feature films and porn parodies became the rage–porn that women watched and enjoyed with their partners. And now that we’re maturing and getting more comfortable (maybe) with porn as a form of entertainment we can enjoy… we’re bored with it. We’ve seen everything already. As a generation, we have driven the porn market as mass-marketed entertainment through its logical stages: softcore cable porn, educational cable porn, gonzo jerk-off porn, more and more extreme versions thereof as our thresholds for shock rose, more couples-oriented material, and now that so many of us are actually porn connoisseurs after a lifetime of jerking off to it… indie porn and things like it are offering us new and different ways to enjoy sexual entertainment.

It’s always been there, of course. And so have all the other forms of porn we have now. But I think alt and indie porn, sexy experimental art films, and all other sorts of sexy viewing material are doing better these days, and proliferating more, because our generation is so fucking bored with everything else. But we’re not bored with getting turned on. And so it goes.

What I find exciting about this idea is that all the generations to follow, for the foreseeable future (at least barring a complete Republican takeover, which is much more possible than I want to think about), will have even more access to porn as they grow up than we did. They’ll be able to find more hardcore stuff from an earlier age, and they may get bored long before we did with the same-old, same-old of what’s available for free and easy to find online. These generations will keep the experimentation going. They’ll drive the market toward more interesting and varied porn that will push the envelope in new and fascinating ways.

Whereas porn’s former incarnations basically only asked the question of how they could sell more to more people, and whether being more “shocking” would help that equation, the people making smaller porn films and running indie niche websites now are wondering what they can do that hasn’t been done on a whole spectrum of levels: how artistic? how beautiful? how inclusive? how authentic? how cheesy? how funny? They are expressing themselves sexually and finding markets opening up that didn’t exist before, because they grew up being shown the same thing over and over and over again. Whereas there were once corporate-backed ideas of what makes porn “good” that we all more or less swallowed because we didn’t have a choice, now there’s a whole slice of the population that wants choice and wants to make variety available: men and women and trans people, straight and gay and queer people, people of every color and body type and with every imaginable set of interests. We’re mostly ok with porn, in a way that generations before us weren’t because it wasn’t as normal for them. We’re mostly interested in getting off. And we want variety, innovation, and fun. And we’ll get it.

It’s a whole new world, peeps. I’m looking forward to it.

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