Porn Has No One But Itself to Blame

Mar 18, 2013
Editorial
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Sex isn’t selling: This is the headline of an issue of Canadian Business magazine. Of course it’s long been one of the truisms of marketing—sex sells. But this article contends that for the first time in recent memory sex no longer accomplishes what it once did; it no longer piles up the profits.

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The focus of the article is pornography and its coming decline. The author contends that pornography has been unable to adapt to the new realities of the Internet, realities that dictate that everything must be free, or at least everything that can be shared in bits and bytes. Porn producers are reporting that they have seen revenue fall 80% from their best days; Playboy is bleeding money and laying off staff; actors who were once paid $2,000 for a single scene are now being offered just half of that; revenue for major distributors has fallen precipitously.

Pornography’s woes can partly be blamed on the economy—when people are in danger of missing a mortgage payment or are out of work, splurging on porn can be a bit of a stretch. But even more so, pornography has been victimized by a cultural shift. “The characteristics that once made sexual content a valuable commodity—the inaccessibility, the taboo—have evaporated.” Cable television is now full of the kind of full-on nudity and sexuality that was once relegated to the porn channels and porn stores. Such a change has been swift.

It was not too long ago that a movie like Basic Instinct was considered shocking and edgy; today it would barely make a ripple. “In 1995, Calvin Klein faced an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department on allegations its advertisements constituted child pornography; now, American Apparel can barely draw press coverage by using actual porn stars in porny poses in its ads.” The dirtiness of what made porn enticing, the allure of it, is now fading, lost in the background of a sexualized, pornified culture. This is not to say that people don’t want sex and porn anymore—just that they won’t pay for it and that it won’t compel them to spend money. It’s become a boring kind of addiction or obsession, not a particularly interesting or exciting one.

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