Progressive politics, ideas & culture


the banality of gone-wildness

This Magazine Staff

Brave, chilling journalism from Claire Hoffman in the LA Times Magazine last weekend. She spends a day with Joe Francis, founder of the third-wave feminism challenging Girls Gone Wild video porn empire. The eternal fratboy, Francis’ ability to talk barely 18 year old girls into lifting their shirts for the camera has made him super-rich and, apparently, tragically unacquainted with any reality I understand.
Here’s an understatement. There’s a lot going on with sexuality these days. Liberating? Absolutely. Dumb taboo busting? Sure. Certainly that day almost thirty years ago when my buddy and I stole a Playboy seems just beautifully quaint by comparison to some of the stuff in this article:
Francis has aimed his cameras at a generation whose notions of privacy and sexuality are different from any other. Nursed on MySpace profiles and reality television, many young people today are comfortable with being perpetually photographed and having those images posted on the Internet for anyone to see. The boundaries that once contained sexuality have also fallen away. Whether it’s 13-year-olds watching a Britney Spears video, 16-year-olds getting their pubic hair waxed to emulate porn stars or 17-year-olds viewing videos of celebrities performing the most intimate acts, youth culture is soaked in sexuality.
Nothing new here. Until:
It seems like Francis spends a lot of money on lawyers. I guess that comes with the territory of filming strangers who take off their clothes. More than a dozen women have sued him, alleging that his company used images of them exposing their bodies on “Girls Gone Wild” videos, box covers and infomercials without their permission. Only a few have convinced the courts that they were unwitting victims. For the most part, judges and juries have sided with Francis’ 1st Amendment argument that the plaintiffs’ images were captured in public places and that the company was free to use them as it pleased, particularly in light of the fact that the women had signed waivers.
And here’s one for all of us who learned our feminism in the 80’s:
…teenagers, like the ones in this club, see cameras as validation. “Most guys want to have sex with me and maybe I could meet one new guy, but if I get filmed everyone could see me,” Bultema says. “If you do this, you might get noticed by somebody – to be an actress or a model.”
I ask her why she wants to get noticed. “You want people to say, ‘Hey, I saw you.’ Everybody wants to be famous in some way. Getting famous will get me anything I want. If I walk into somebody’s house and said, ‘Give me this,’ I could have it.”
It gets worse.
Read the story. Take a shower.

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