Sex: 4 Documentaries
I've been watching a lot of documentaries on Netflix. I also think about sex a lot, so I suppose it's only natural that thoughts on sex would lead me to documentaries about sex-related topics. Of such documentaries Netflix has quite a few.
But before I get to the Netflix documentaries, I should talk about American Pimp, which is not on Netflix. I first saw this documentary several years ago, but I re-watched it recently.
American Pimp is a documentary put together by the Hughes Brothers, who are still making films today. Their documentary contains several interviews with pimps and their "ladies," and is probably one of the most quotable documentaries ever made. I'm not saying that I have any great respect or admiration for pimps, but being likable (and funny) is what many of these guys do best.
I was thinking about American Pimp as I was scrolling through Netflix a few days later. There I found After Porn Ends, a documentary exploring the daily life of several ex porn stars. Several stars of the 70s, 80s, and 90s are interviewed in this film.
After Porn Ends led me to Hot Girls Wanted. This is a documentary about "amateur" porn stars in Florida, most of whom are between 18 and 19 years of age. They are by definition very young women, who often leave small towns and broken homes behind for a "career" that lasts, on average, several months at best.
After Hot Girls Wanted I saw Tricked, which explores the legal ramifications of prostitution. Various lawyers, cops, and ex-prostitutes attempt to make a case for criminalizing prostitution, but one wonders whether all of their laws and law enforcing aren't just amplifying the problem they're trying to address.
Of the four, Hot Girls Wanted is by far the best. This documentary really stayed with me, and as I sit here typing many unpleasant scenes from this film come rushing back into my head. It gets DARK, but it's worth watching.
It's also a film that had me wondering what "consensual" means in the context of a young girl flying across the country to seek fame and fortune. Several of the "performances" shown in this documentary verge on rape, and one can't help but feel sorry for these girls and what they've gone through. Yes, in a legal context they're "consenting adults," but some of the movies they're coerced into appearing in are nothing short of horrific.
After Porn Ends is also pretty good, though it doesn't pack the same kind of punch as Hot Girls Wanted. It's good to know that not everyone who does porn is scarred by the experience, and that many of those who are scarred had issues before they were ever part of the industry. I'm not trying to argue that exploitation doesn't happen, but I like that the filmmakers went out of their way to present a balanced picture of what it means to be a porn star, both during and after a career in the industry. I have no doubt that such a career would tend to follow you around for the rest of your life, but it's good to know that not all of them bear the scarlet letter for the rest of their days.
American Pimp? It's somewhat cartoonish, and despite attempts at portraying "the other side," the Hughes Brothers clearly want to present an entertaining documentary at the expense of the women who suffer at the hands of these pimps. I think that pimp in Nevada would be an interesting guy to talk to, but most of the women in this film are presented as little more than cattle, to be used and abused at others' discretion.
Tricked is definitely the worst of the four documentaries - and I'm not just saying this because I generally advocate legalizing prostitution.
For one thing, it's not enough to say that "We shouldn't do these things, because these things are illegal." This documentary should have explored the "why" behind these laws, and discussed other strategies for limiting the abuses of pimps. Of course I'd agree that human trafficking is wrong, but by relegating this form of activity to the category "Crime," the state is in many ways denying prostitutes their rights and proper recourse to the law.
I think that our society's attitude towards prostitution mirrors its attitude towards drugs, in that all of the laws they're trying to enforce can be reduced to the same set of empty moral platitudes. We need a more pragmatic approach to this problem, and an approach less informed by the Old Testament.
That's my opinion, anyway. It may be altered by two other documentaries on Netflix, which I'll probably watch soon. One of these is about strippers, and the other is about sexting addiction (really, that's a thing now).
Sex? There's plenty of it to be seen, and still more of it to be contemplated. I'll let you know if I come to any further conclusions about it. In the meantime, you could do worse than spend a couple hours watching either Hot Girls Wanted or After Porn Ends.