NYU Professor Criticizes Porn

Porn Studies > Porn in the News

The Dartmouth, 10/27/05 - Chyng Feng Sun critiqued the prevalence of pornography in society in a lecture, titled "Fantasies Matter: Pornography, Sexuality and Relationships," Wednesday night at the Rockefeller Center. The talk was based on her documentary of the same name.

Sun, a professor of Media Studies at New York University, encouraged people to think about pornography in relation to media and culture.

She presented video clips of interviews with actresses and filmmakers involved in the pornography industry. Taking a "cultural studies approach to media," Sun examined the production, content and consumption of pornography.

"One of the main reasons I wanted to create this film is to create a forum about acts of pornography," Sun said.

Between 1992 and 2004, revenue generated by pornography has skyrocketed from $490 million to around $12 billion, Sun said.

She explained that the surge in the popularity of pornography since the 1990s is linked to the introduction of the VCR, pornographic films' low production costs and the proliferation of the Internet.

Sun honed in on the Las Vegas Adult Entertainment Expo, sponsored by Adult Video News, as a mecca of pornographic interest. Her production team was among 30,000 attendees at the convention, where she interviewed those involved with the making of pornography.

Sun showed a clip of interviews from the conference and examined attitudes of male pornography directors toward specific sexual acts commonly presented in adult films.

"Every time a wife is mean to her husband for everything else, he's secretly thinking in the back of his mind, 'I'd like to f*ck you in the ass.' I think that's what the attraction to anal is," the Director of Anal Sex Videos said in Sun's clip.

Sun explained that many directors and producers do not feel remorse about their activities. She pointed to Taboo magazine editor Earnest Green, who she believed exemplified the dismissive attitude of men within the industry.

"I never experience a single moment of guilt or shame or anxiety over the prospect that the pictures that I make might inspire people to do things that would be evil," Green said. "I believe that evildoers do evil things and don't need pictures to tell them how."

"Even though these independent producers are not the mainstream, they serve to push the boundaries of what is acceptable and drag the mainstream porn and the popular culture toward a more extreme direction," Sun said.

She explained how in an interview with Brandon Iron, producer of a series called "Baker's Dozen," Iron equated a group of men ejaculating on a woman's face with a dog marking its territory with urine and highlighted the objectification of women as a major problem in the pornography industry.

"It's like a dog marking its territory," Iron said in a clip Sun presented. "You know, why do dogs pee on fire hydrants and trees? I don't know. It's just like a man will leave his mark on a woman. You see something beautiful, you've got to let them know you were there."

According to Sun, adult film actress Sarah-Katherine embodies the views of other women in the industry and believes that, for many, pornography is not an enjoyable experience.

"The images that we reenact over and over again have absolutely nothing to do with our personal sexuality," Sarah-Katherine said. "I would say that what's shown is basically -- it's not revolutionary, its not different, its the same old, same old, its women in uncomfortable positions pretending they feel good, and what's revolutionary about that? What's liberating about that?"

Sun said money was a primary reason for some women's involvement in the industry.

"Me and two guys, whether or not it be anal or regular, is $1,100. Double penetration, which is once in vagina, one in butt, that's $1,200 and gang bangs usually range," Annie Cruiz, a 19-year actress said in a clip shown.

"When I hear how Annie Cruiz calmly explains the different prices for different sex acts, I always think of the picture in some steak house explaining the different cuts of beef, and the price of each. It is such a clear example of the commodification of sexuality," Sun said.

Students attending the lecture had mixed reactions.

"I think it's a very good lecture," Alex Guyton '09 said. "Its something a lot of people need to see."

Shinen Wong '07 was less enthusiastic about Sun's representation of the industry.

"I feel like what she was criticizing was porn as a capitalist industry," Wong said. "It's irresponsible to criticise depictions, when you're using them as a metaphor to criticize a larger problem of a totalizing economic system maintained in porn."

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