August 27, 2004

Icons of an earlier era

Posted by Scott at 06:41 AM

It's a touchy subject: the proliferation of pornography. You can buy it via cable, order it in your hotel room, have it streamed via the internet, etc. The list goes on and the culture is dragged down lower as it becomes more and more commonplace and cheap. But what I didn't realize is aftermath on the (it almost hurts to say this) pioneers of modern pornography. Here's some news I read today in a Wall Street Journal article that was discussing the recent mainstreaming of porn star Jenna Jameson (I know, I know, WSJ? Jameson? who would have guessed):

Ms. Jameson's individual star is rising as her industry sinks into the twilight of porn's age of innocence. Icons of an earlier era like Bob Guccione and Al Goldstein have fallen on hard times. Mr. Guccione, the founder of Penthouse, has lost his Manhattan townhouse and his Hudson River mansion to creditors. Mr. Goldstein, once the publisher of Screw, is on probation and is reportedly penniless.

While the Internet was supposed to usher in a heyday for pornographers, in fact it has driven the price of still pictures of naked people to historic lows. This trend has made it harder for even Hugh Hefner to make a buck: Playboy Enterprises hasn't earned a profit since 1998, and its share price has been cut in half in the past year.

Pornography's "age of innocence"?! Pullease!! It's hard for me to feel sorry for these "icons of an earlier era". They're some of the ones who started us down this road of objectifying women as playthings. Now modern media has taken their vision and shifted it into high gear. Years ago when local town or city ordinances tried to restrict access to their materials, they took it to the courts and struck down restrictions on the grounds of free speech and first amendment rights. Now such "speech" is commonplace and readily available from too numerous sources, and these guys are going bankrupt. Congrats, guys! Your vision was bankrupt from the beginning.

Ironically the ability to express opinions about government, leaders, and politics -- the kind of speech the Constitution's 1st amendment actually means -- is regulated in numerous ways. First there was McCain-Feingold, now there's talk about the evils of independent groups, aka 527 groups, like the Swiftboat Vets for Truth,, The Media Fund, and America Coming Together. It's amazing to me that while the latter three have been receiving millions for years, the vets with their small budget has caused the media to now decry independent 527 groups.