Racism and porn. Again

Comments (0) Art & Culture, Cinema

Ana Foxxx is on the stage of the AVN Awards, awards sponsored by Adult Video News magazine, focusing on porn and adult entertainment movies. With approximately 100 categories to be rewarded, the AVN Awards, born in 1984, are often called the “Porn Oscar”. Ana Foxxx, an African-American famous and wanted actress, was asked to present some awards such as Transgender Performer of the Year, Best Director and Best Comedy. During the event, Ana showed off a typically African hairstyle and dress with cottoned hair and a glamorous dress and, on one occasion, lifted her fist often associated with black rights battles (like Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the 1986 Olympics). But in the video made at the end of the event, this part was completely cut off.
No political references, said the staff, but this doesn’t convince and revive a serious problem in the porn industry: the racism. On the Glamor site, the journalist Lynsey G. wrote a long article in which she told and analyzed the numerous differences and inequalities between porn actresses and actors based on skin color. The problems are many and range from wage inequality to a strong stereotyping that leads African Americans and Asians to assume the same roles, customs and “unequal” treatment for decades to this part. Despite the millions of money, the interests of production houses, sites like PornHub and YouPorn that generate traffic and carry on some awareness campaigns, racism is not adequately tackled.

What kind of stereotypes are we talking about? Well, let’s think of well endowed Afro-American men or the roles of the actresses according to jobs labeled as the Hispanic maid or Oriental masseuse. An atemporal crystallization of tastes and “classes” that in porn seem to endure more than in other everyday contexts. And it still likes. Like the categories on sites that, in addition to classic “Asian”, “Ebony” or “Interracial”, we can see more and more tags like “hood thugs” and “ghetto sluts”, or “tight asian teens” and “Tokyo souvenirs” all with a specific reference.
Chelsea G. Summers, in an article on Fusion.net, interviewed the porn star Janice Griffith asking questions about racism in porn. To make it clear what is being said, the actress has defined itself as «I am Latin, Dominican, half-Black, half-Chinese… it depends on what site you are looking at». Consumers and producers use the categories to “simplify” like old videotape times, but with the consequence of differentiating people by skin color, reducing them to mega-compartments from meaningless borders.

«For a long time, the porn was made for a mostly white, male, heterosexual, and cisgender audience, whose sexual fantasies were basically predisposed. Those fantasies have big problems, especially when it comes to color people who, instead of being part of creating scenes, are subjected to the needs of those fantasies» said, always on Glamor, Mickey Mod, porn actor, activist and vice-president of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC), an organization to ensure workers’ rights in the pornographic industry.
The same roles also imply a problem for the actors to find work: this schematization makes lives very difficult for African, Asian and Hispanic actors because the available roles are few and always the same. Thus, the industry creates niches with a limited range of three to four actors, and some producers take advantage of this situation by offering lower wages to minority actresses. The pay is reduced to half and it concerns mainly women because, among men, this difference doesn’t seem to exist.

Mireille Miller-Young, a professor at the Department of Feminist Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, explains that the sexualization of ethnic differences in a porn movie can still have an effect of emancipation and inclusion in minority users. Especially if the alternative was the total absence of non-white actors and actresses.
Miller-Young’s optimism, however, is not confirmed in the words of Vex Ashley, an independent producer. On Glamour she explains her distrust: «Racism in pornography seems to get worse because pornographic users do not treat it with the same critical eye as the other media. We degrade it to a culturally useless and negligible problem, so people say things like “What do you care? It’s just porn». An disquieting trivialization.

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