The TFS List: 5 docs about porn

Posted by Brandy Dean July 4, 2012 0 Comment 8768 views

Hey what now? Pretty Clever Film Gal is talking about porn? Yep. Thing are heating up over at Toronto Film Scene during July – it’s porn month! This little list of docs about porn – see how respectable I manage to remain? – is my humble contribution to the month long examination of everyone’s favorite film genre: porn!

Here’s something else you all may not know… Pretty Clever Film Gal’s real name is Brandy Dean, which is also the name of a huge (ahem) porn star. I’m warning you – do not Google Brandy Dean porn, you’ll be sorry. So… Brandy Dean porn, Brandy Dean porn, Brandy Dean porn. Now, while we wait for the site traffic to commence, check out:

The TFS List: 5 docs about porn

Here’s something I like to imagine: deep in the recesses of Chauvet Cave, one guy finished painting a horse and another guy walked up and said, “You know, you could paint a girl horse too and…” Even a cursory examination of the human history demonstrates that about as soon as people could make an image they could figure out a way to make that image pornographic. Love it, hate it, feel embarrassed to buy it; porn has been with us for a very long time and shows no signs of going anywhere. So it makes sense that even the most high-minded of filmmakers — documentarians, the cinematic version of a conscience – would turn their attention to everyone’s favorite genre: porn.

Here’s 5 docs about porn worth watching. The best part? You can rent them under the guise of “research.”

1. Pornography: The Secret History of Civilisation (1999)

At six episodes of 60 minutes each, this British TV mini-series lays claim to an epic scope in the examination of porn through the ages. Spoiler alert: porn has been around for a long, long time and isn’t so much of a secret. There’s nothing very titillating here, but the series offers up a fascinating and detailed study of the evolution of porn as it tracks along with the evolution of media. And while it doesn’t resolve the chicken-egg aspect of this conundrum, it offers up a lot of food for thought. Beware the final episode on the future of porn – the 1999 predictions are a little off.

2.  Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy (2001)

The success of porn super star Ron Jeremy begs a lot of questions, chiefly, how the hell does a short, tubby, hairy little man become a porn super star? There’s no good answer to that question, but Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy is a funny and often sad exploration of the possible theories. Two recurring topics run like a throbbing vein through this doc. The first is that despite starring in over 1600 movies of the x-rated variety, Jeremy remains crushed that he never achieved success as a mainstream actor. The second is that Jeremy serves as a kind of every-man beacon of hope to the just average looking dudes of the world because if Ron Jeremy can be a super-stud, surely you can too. Note: there’s both a censored, R-rated version and an un-rated version of this DVD.

3. Inside Deep Throat (2005)

About arguably the best known porno movie in the universe, the doc Inside Deep Throat demonstrates that 1972′s Deep Throat was more than just a roll in the hay. The movie’s release sparked outrage, controversy, obscenity trials and generated record breaking porn revenue. It also launched the “porno chic” pop culture trend of the 1970s and catapulted its erstwhile leading lady, Linda Lovelace to international renown, thus ensuring future biopic work for Lindsay Lohan.  While the movie spends no small amount of energy on romanticizing a certain moment in porn history, it also gives Lovelace’s later claims of rape, abuse, and forced prostitution ample air time. Still and all, it’s hard to ignore the impact of a porn movie that actually got a Roger Ebert review at the time of it’s release.

4.  Live Nude Girls Unite! (2000)

What happens when a nice college educated gal and sometimes stand-up comedian decides to earn a few bucks on the side as a stripper? She becomes enraged at the poor treatment of her colleagues, instigates an organized labor action, and makes a doc about it of course! Live Nude Girls Unite! follows Julia Query as she works with the Service Employees International local in San Francisco to unionize famed peep show palace The Lusty Lady. Of course, it turns out that when you’re forced to think of your strippers as people who deserve health insurance and time off to attend parent teacher conferences, they’re not nearly as much fun. This doc provides a fascinating window into the conditions faced by sex workers and the fact that sex work is, well, work.

5.  This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

Okay, this doc isn’t exactly about porn as such, but rather about the secretive and sometimes obtuse process by which a movie is officially declared porn. In an hilarious little meta-twist, this investigation of the MPAA’s arcane and opaque rating system resulted in an NC-17 rating for “some graphic sexual content.” However the doc is most famous for using a private investigator to uncover the identities of ratings and appeals board members and uncovering fun factoids like many of the board members do not have children, are not properly trained to do their jobs, and that the appeals board is composed of mostly movie theater chain and studio executives. While This Film Is Not Yet Rated doesn’t entirely crack the code on the rating system, it goes a long way to illustrating how very arbitrary it is.

This piece was originally published at thetfs.ca.

About Brandy Dean

Social media consultant, blogger for hire, and lover of classic movies and silent films.

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