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Rant #233
(published June 30, 2005)
So You Want To Review Porn Films
by Talia Heighman
About six months ago, I came across an ad in the writing/editing section of craigslist. An online adult entertainment magazine needed an editor, and as I'm nothing if not an editing nerd, I sent in my resume. Two surprisingly intense interviews later, I had the job.

I have no problem with porn. I've watched; I've read. I think sex toys can be awesome and books educational. Basically, if the action is consensual, the talent is legal, and no one is getting hurt, it's all good. I know there's a significant school of thought that equates watching porn with higher rates of violence against women, but I also know there's a significant and equally well-researched school that denies any link. The politics involved are another issue; my job was merely to make sure that what was posted was readable and interesting.

Sounds so simple, doesn't it?

It's been half a year and I still have no problem with porn in and of itself. It's the writers who drive me to tears and make me bemoan the future of the English language. Or any language, actually.

Here's the thing: Just because people are reading your review and only care about 1 in the Pink 1 in the Stink on a purely "will it get me off" kind of way does not excuse lazy writing. You call yourself a reviewer? Learn to use spell check! Learn to focus on something in the film other than how many double penetrations there are. Figure out that no one gives a good goddamn if you came so fucking hard while that little blond got a facial. And for the love of all that is holy, stop using the word "little" to describe anything and everything about the female body. "Little pussy." "Little asshole." "Little hotty." It's called a thesaurus. Use it. Or better yet, stop equating everything feminine with being diminutive. It's infantilizing.

Along those lines, please please please stop talking about young girls. One of the strictest rules of what the site in question will review is that they won't touch anything involving underage performers. So stop trying to get around that by rambling on about how that barely legal Canadian chick looked 15. Stop talking about how "young" the women look. You're looking at movies that feature women of legal age. Call them women. Better yet, call them by their names.

Just don't call them sluts or whores, OK? You signed up for this gig, which indicates that you have at least a rudimentary idea of how the porn industry works. These are actors and actresses, playing a part. And unless the woman in question really is playing a whore, then using misogynistic terms is inaccurate (as well as insulting.) Yes, in the real world, a woman who provides sex for money is a prostitute. In the film world, she's an actress. If you have a problem with this distinction, maybe this isn't the job for you.

Likewise, if you must insist on perpetuating tired old racial stereotypes, please seek another line of work. Asian women are not all delicate dolls; African-American men are not all tireless studs; Hispanic women are not all insatiable; and African-American women are not all disdainful of sex. OK, that last one might not be a classic stereotype, but try telling that to the reviewer who couldn't stop exclaiming over that concept. But you get the point. Movies like Black Pipe Players 4, and Hot Latin Pussy Adventures 38 do just fine at exploiting these stereotypes. A good reviewer is able to look at the movie on its own merits, and not fall back on rehashing old assumptions.

Any reviewer, no matter the genre being studied, is given a unique chance: to put their perspective and thoughts on a piece of work, to judge a creation both on its own artistic and creative merits, and as a representation of the genre to which it contributes. With a medium like porn, which has historically been misunderstood and the culprit—deserved or not—for a number of society's problems, the job of the reviewer is even more significant. You have the chance to explain what is appealing about this genre, what is humorous, what is revolutionary, and what is justly reviled. Don't throw that chance away by making cheap "cum" jokes and talking about how you'd love to bang that really hot actress. If you truly like the genre, make other people understand why, and why adult entertainment can be more than a punch line.

So here's my last piece of advice: read your review over before declaring it done. Better yet, read it and use a spell checker or dictionary, because then maybe you'll avoid mistakes like these:

"When the monet comes"

"prog" (like the music) instead of "Prague" (the Czech capital full of blonde hotties)

"ménage trio"

I think that about covers it. This job has raised many questions for me, some more troublesome than others, but few likely to linger longer than this: is "succotash" the most brilliant, or most bizarre, way imaginable to describe the acts of fucking and sucking?

The PMjA Editorial staff would like to voice their wholeheartedly full-throated approval of 1) the use of the term "succotash" in reference to sucking and fucking and 2) the even better coinage of "fuckotash."


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