Vicereport Opinion: Porn Politics – Porn in the Presidential Race?
2/16/2012 - A surging Presidential candidate just threw a roundhouse kick to the head of a multi-billion dollar industry. At least he threatened it if elected. He told porn their product is addicting, ruining the lives of adults, children, and families, causes brain damage, contributes to violence against women and sex trafficking, and finally, Senator Rick Santorum told pornographers that if he’s elected President he’s going to arrest and criminally prosecute them.
The Senator’s public stance likely resulted from the efforts of Morality in Media who contacted the 2012 Presidential Candidates about enforcing federal obscenity laws back in September of 2011. Santorum, Romney and Gingrich all agreed that they would appoint a U.S. Attorney General who would enforce these laws, but Santorum went much much further on his website.
This is big news for a very big business. Are industry insiders paying attention? Is anyone responsible for developing Plan B in the event this multibillion dollar industry finds itself in some serious crosshairs? Although figures are hard to come by, experts guess the porn industry rakes in around $10B annually in the US and almost $100B world-wide.
Cut to scene in the Godfather when Hyman Roth looks up to Michael Corleone and says, “Michael, we’re bigger than U.S. steel.” Of course, in this version Hyman is Hugh and Michael is Fabian Thylmann (the 33 yr. old genius king of the porn industry bigger than Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner combined many times over). Not sure about U.S. steel but for some perspective think about this – Porn revenue in the U.S. is larger than all revenues of the NFL, MLB, and NBA . . . COMBINED.
Santorum’s recent attack on big porn got the vicereport thinking that maybe the time was right for porn to get some real traction in this election. It’s not rocket science, but about five months ago, we theorized that Obama was acutely politically vulnerable for his handling of porn from a policy and legal perspective (unless silence is the policy) and was wondering who was going to pick up this political “carne asada?” Could this be the “Porn Perfect Storm” that keeps Porn in the headlines for the rest of the year? It might be, read on.
It’s been a busy few news months with the adult industry getting some solid cross over mainstream press, and none of it involving saving kittens from trees, like: the City of Los Angeles mandatory condom battle with the porn industry, the .xxx domain beef with ICN, and antitrust lawsuit filed by the only player in that business who ironically could in fact possibly have their name in the DOJ Antitrust “keep an eye on” file, and the extremely graphic hardcore former porn star Sasha Grey reading to elementary kids.
So, has Obama’s silence, all while the porn product was proliferating in ways that humans couldn’t imagine even 5 years ago, made him an easy target on the porn issue and the public wants to talk about it? Time will tell. It’s a touchy subject, we get it. But some one has too talk about it. And Santoum came out yelling – heck this could hurt Obama and Mitt as two recent articles linked Romney to Penthouse and the founder of adultfriendfinder). Yes, the issues are ripe with religious and moral underpinnings and pundits will insist it has no mainstream appeal but they are wrong. This is not a fringe issue. It touches just about everyone, everywhere. Everybody seems to have a friend with a friend that ruined their life or someone else’s with too much porn. And at $10B in U.S. gross, this industry employs too many people and too much mainstream $ is involved to be ignored and relegated to the corner book story days of old.
In the home, kids access hardcore porn at an average age of 11, in around 50% of divorces porn is cited as a contributing factor, and Italian urologists have proven that compulsive use of porn makes men limp (oh the irony). At places of worship, child and adult porn compulsion is wreaking moral and legal havoc. At work, millions of men access porn, many knowing that they’d be fired, negatively impacting productivity and leading to more sexual harassment suits and more messy litigation. Don’t forget about the impact on Employment Practices Liability Insurance rates?
In the history of mankind, video porn has never been more free, accessible, graphic/extreme/violent, and watched by young kids at younger and younger ages.
And what about the “is porn addicting” debate? Senator Santorum has an opinion here and he says it is. What funding for treatment could follow is nebulous and what it will actually mean is anyone’s guess sans recognition in the DSM but it does increase awareness on an issue that is getting more and more attention. Where ever you land on this issue you cannot with a straight face say that it’s not a problem on so many levels that needs to be addressed in come coherent way. If there is any doubt, how about two major motion pictures? Shame and Thanks for Sharing starring Pink coming to a theater near you. If that’s not mainstream I don’t know what is (the vicereport loves Pink btw).
Senator Santorum’s statement equating hardcore porn with the word “obscene” is profoundly significant from a legal perspective too. In a nutshell, if it’s obscene, under U.S. law it’s illegal and you can go to jail for making, distributing or possessing it. What’s actually obscene though is up to the courts to decide and it is in this grey zone that porn pushes to see how far it can go. The further it goes, the more money it makes - click here for a wiki article on Paul Cambria, famous defense attorney for the porn industry who came up with the “porn what not to do list” in 2000 warning of a Bush presidency (of course all of it is now available for free online today in under five mouse clicks).
What Santorum is saying to porn is that content available on the web right now, the stuff your kid’s friends are watching on one of Manwin’s free tube video sites (xvideos or youporn) is illegal, it’s obscene, and I’m going to find the most favorable jurisdiction in the country and arrest you, seize your assets, and prosecute you.
This aggressive position serves to further blur the location of the obscene line. If you don’t know where the line is it’s easier to accidently cross it. Common sense, right? If you know you’re going to get arrested, your assets seized, and spend hundreds of thousands defending a lawsuit if you DO cross this imaginary line in the sand, you are going to be more careful and stay further away and be less inclined to dance near where you think the line might not be. Get it?
The VR also speculates that these attacks impact Porn investments, funding, and borrowing. The world’s largest porn company Manwin just got a nine figure loan last April from a leading Wall Street fund. This funding pool will dry up if the owner of their cash cow is prosecuted for peddling allegedly obscene content on its Brazzers site. Is it probable, no, is it possible under a Santorum administration? It’s a very interesting question. Who do you think is Santorum’s porn public enemy #1? If it’s you, thanks for reading and following the vicereport. :)
So all this to say that Obama might pay a political price for disbanding the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force. From Politico, ”Attorney General Holder told the Judiciary Committee last year that this task force was the centerpiece of the strategy to combat adult obscenity,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). “Rather than initiate a single new case since President Obama took office, however, the only development in this area has been the dismantling of the task force. As the toxic waste of obscenity continues to spread and harm everyone it touches, it appears the Obama administration is giving up without a fight.”
Cut to Paul Little looking over his business plan wondering about that line . . .
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