February 23, 2008

The Problem with Porn

I was out having drinks last evening with a small group of women and, as sometimes happens, the conversation turned to the topic of sex. Of course, we were discussing the current season of The L Word (TLW) and why it's been much more entertaining this season than the last few seasons. Among other things, we all agreed that, for a straight woman, Jennifer Beals gives a hot and believable performance in her lesbian love scenes (or sex scenes, if you don't buy that love is actually part of the equation). We also pretty much agreed that those scenes were, for all intents and purposes, soft porn (except those with Jennifer Beals, who, unlike some of the other actresses on TLW, appears to have it in her contract to not actually show any "skin"). But, as also sometimes happens, the conversation was interrupted and we never actually return to this academic discussion.

Before we were interrupted, I had started to give my observations about WHY the sex scenes from TLW, and other similar shows or movies, are so much more of a sexual turn-on for women than the porn flicks often favored by the male of the species. So, for those who are interested, I offer now to provide my observations on the topic. For the purpose of fair comparison, I'm limiting this short discussion to woman/woman sex scenes in movies or shows like TLW and the woman/woman sex scenes in porn flicks (yes, I've observed a few of these scenes, so I'm mildly qualified to comment).

Here's how I even came to be thinking about this topic. Recently, I was chatting with an online friend who works in the Adult Entertainment Industry (AEI). For the record, she has a heavy duty college education and is therefore very well spoken (which means she uses proper grammar and spelling). Of course, she likes to share about her latest exploits (and I like to change the topic to something more palatable like movies). She also enjoys sharing porn clips that she likes in order get my opinion (partly to see what might work for her show and partly to see if she can turn me on, which I usually tolerate for awhile). But mostly porn doesn't really work for me.

Now it just happens that I had watched a movie, that very day, which had a really hot love scene (I usually buy that love is in the equation because I'm a sucker for romance). Since another online friend has that particular clip (along with several others) on her website, I sent my AEI friend there to see what I thought was way sexier. She pretty much agreed with me, although she went right back to sending me porn clips (oh well, reform school probably wouldn't have work either). Then, by fluke I think, she sent me a clip of two women who, she said, were actually lovers (and not just in the video). The difference was totally obvious. Here's why: THEY LOOKED IN EACH OTHER'S EYES!!! Yeah, it was hardcore show-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink porn (well, I might have seen a kitchen sink too), but they were actually really into each other on an emotional level. And that is what works for me. That same eye contact and emotion is what makes scenes in shows like TLW believable to women.

The actresses in TLW are really there to sell subscriptions to a TV channel using a show which is primarily about the relationships between women. It's acting 101 that eye contact and the projection of emotion is what makes the acted relationships believable. Porn, on the other hand, is produced by an industry that is basically filming sex acts in order to sell videos for a lot of money. The focus is on the sexual performance and nothing else. If you've ever watched porn, then you probably noticed how bad the "acting" part of the scenes are in comparison to the sexual performance which is not acted, but really happening. That's the primary reason it usually does little or nothing for me. There's no connection between the performers except physically. Therefore, there's no emotional investment. Most of the women I know are way more interested in the relationships between people (not that they don't enjoy some skin with those relationships).

So my conclusion is, if the porn industry wants to really open up a new market (i.e. sell a lot more porn to women) they need better actors and stories. I do hear there's a burgeoning niche in lesbian porn which is of course written, directed and produced by women not men. I haven't seen it though, and I refuse to pay for it, so unless my AEI friend manages to find it and send it to me, I doubt I'll ever see it.

7 comments:

RED MOJO said...

I completely agree with your observation. Women are far more mental about sex, in fact, I'm completely mental about it!
Kidding aside, there is a lot more to it with women than the physical, although for men, I think the physical is enough.

AndreaD84 said...

I think that porn is like anything else -- there is good stuff and bad stuff.

I agree that the clip you talked about was hot. But half the fun is looking for the good stuff : )

Aimee said...

There is a growing demand for higher quality lesbian porn and the response to that has been production companies actually listening and creating better films. They do exist and they're not half bad. The L Word sex is as good as we will ever get on cable and while that is so, I'm among those women who gets MUCH more turned on by a hot kiss and the foreplay than the actual sex. Speaking for myself only, I am a hard core romantic so the longing looks, the right words, the intense emotional connection that is conveyed through celluloid in the theaters can at times be palpable and that's what I take away with me. Porn, however, can be just as valuable on a more, shall we say, technical level. I'm not watching porn to hear the chicks with the high heels, big hair and long fingernails say "I love you" to one another. I'm watching porn to learn something from the professionals that I can take home to my gal. Would it be nice to see an actual love scene with ACTUAL love in it? Sure. But more than that, I'd like to have a little "love scene" of my own and have my girl say "Damn, baby! Where'd you learn THAT?" :-)

citizen of the world said...

I'm not a porn person myself, but in my opinion the problem with male-oriented porn is that it typically portrays women purely as objects designed to please men. No emotion, no intellect, just bodies to serve and be used. Even when the scenes are with two women, it's all about performing for the man. Kind of appalling, really, and not an attitude I'd want someone bringing to my bed.

TheWeyrd1 said...

Andrea, Aimee and Citizen, thanks for popping by and sharing your own observations. Andrea and Aimee, I agree there is some good porn out there and useful things one can learn from it, but as Citizen pointed out, since much of it is still made for an audience of men, I tend to be more turned off by it than turned on.

Websketch said...

I am not a fan of porn, I just think it is funny in fast forward. I prefer love scenes. I am an uber romantic so I have an imagination and I prefer to use it therefore porn does nothing for me. I agree the porn market is geared towards men, even the girl on girl action in porn is meant to turn men on and I believe and have experienced that when men observe real lesbian love making they are more disturbed and less turned on because they feel excluded. I think that TV and cable have come a long way but to expect real love scenes now is unrealistic. It requires more lesbian actors or very believable straight actors. They have to be hired and the film industry is not there yet. Even lesbian actors are not often willing to pigeon hole themselves because lesbian films don't reap the same benefits in salary that other genres do. When the film industry gets a clue as to what we, as lesbians want to see and the filmmakers get funding enabling them to make better, high quality films then things might change. I personally am conversing with some filmmakers right now, who cannot aquire enough money to make the type of film they want to deliver to the consumer. We as the audience must push for more funding and let the industry know that these are the types of films we are willing to pay for and recommend to our friends. I have a short list myself of films that I would recommend and a lot of the films I would not recommend are lower budget films that could have been great had they had more money. So my advice, not that you asked for it, is to speak up, contact the studios, producers and such and lend your support, specifically financial support to filmmakers dedicated to bringing us great lesbian movies. In the next month on our page we will be promoting three lesbian films in the works, two of which desperately need funding and are offering some rewards for that funding. Stop by in a few weeks and check it out. http://bee-haven.blogspot.com

TheWeyrd1 said...

Red and Web...thanks for your observations! Also, don't miss Web's new movie page...there will be a link from her main page Bee-Haven (see my list of links to the her main page).