Is a "news documentary" on pornography off limits? [updated]


19 comments posted
Have you read the article

Have you read the article the add links to now? Here's how it wraps up:

COSBY: Did you know you were going to have to share?

MADISON: Yes, and that was the part I was most reluctant about. There were seven girls at the time. And I was like, "I don't know." But I thought, you know, this is a guy I have a crush on. And, you know, he leads an amazing lifestyle. And I think I'm just going to give it a try, and it worked out really well.

COSBY: No jealously between all of you gals?

MADISON: Not now. This group is heaven compared to what we had before, so...

COSBY: There were a lot of cat fighting before?

MADISON: Yes, it was a lot of girls who, you know, just all wanted to be in the group and didn't necessarily get along. So to have this group now, people are always asking me, "Well, how can you date a guy who dates other girls?" And you're like, "You don't understand. This group is so great." You know, we're just having a lot of fun right now.

COSBY: No jealously, no trying to undermine each other? Not at all?

HEFNER: No. Not at all.

COSBY: Wow. That's amazing.

MADISON: We all love this lifestyle and this relationship. And we all care about Hef, so we want to try and make it work.

COSBY: ... What's ahead for you (Hefner)? Is there something else that's still sort of yet undone?

HEFNER: Well, this is a very, very exciting time for me, both personally and professionally. There's so many things going on.

COSBY: You look like you're a kid in the candy store. You look so happy.

HEFNER: I am a kid in the candy store. I dreamed impossible dreams. And the dreams turned out beyond anything I could possibly imagine. You know, from my point of view, I'm the luckiest cat on the planet. And I know it.

Watch 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' each night at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

© 2005 MSNBC Interactive

Barb's picture
Posted by Barb (not verified) on 12 December 2005 - 2:08pm
Luckly that he lives in the age of


As a rich sexist horn dog, he probably would have been able to truly lord it over more women in an earlier era -- back in the age of "traditional values."

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 12 December 2005 - 5:23pm
*barfs* That article is a

*barfs* That article is a nightmare. Anyway, there's nothing guys like more than keeping women the sex-class, so I don't understand how anyone could say this ad is okay. This ad is very patriarchy affirming, just look at the article. Oh, those porn stars are so happy being sex-bots. Yay for them. *barfs*

jessant's picture
Posted by jessant (not verified) on 12 December 2005 - 3:43pm
The flip side might be

...that just because guys can be dogs, does that mean women have to be asexual? Yes, it's an industry catering to men, mostly (though they told me the news show was going to be about the women's market, too), but just because men get off on it, perhaps in unseemly ways, does that mean women must withhold their sexuality?

Is porn really so much worse than a piece of crap like "True Lies," with a body count well over 1,000?

I confess I didn't read the article. As a policy, this site keeps a great wall between editorial and advertising. No ad appearing here should be considered an endorsement by me or anyone here.

In the end, I think the dust-up over this across the blogozoid may produce more awareness than just ignoring it. After all, the big boy sites had no qualms at all with running the ad. And the last time such decisions were discussion on a major site, a major war of insults, revelations, and an exodus and banning or three resulted.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 12 December 2005 - 5:21pm
Nope, women don't have to be

Nope, women don't have to be asexual, but just don't pretend your doing something to help women by being a happy little sex-bot in the porn industry. Porn-making seems to be exclusively in the hands of men, as well as the network that handed out this ad. Can women's authentic sexuality ever be real at all, when it seems to be only posturing for a male audience. Sure, there's probably great authentic happy women porn, where women get off just like the men, but eh...I don't think so. Even some of the Suicide Girls, the most happy porn women of all, came out and said they were being exploited. The violence thing is a whole other issue. Men don't need to see sexin in the movies, they have porn for that.

jessant's picture
Posted by jessant (not verified) on 13 December 2005 - 3:58am
I don't have any statistics on that

My understanding is that much of the porn industry is owned and operated by women. I don't know if it makes the porn any better, but my impression is that it's not like white slavery. Maybe that's wrong.

As for the "network that handed out this ad," that's MSNBC, co-owned by a military defense contractor and Microsoft. Is there any media conglomerate that is not primarily owned and run by men?

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 13 December 2005 - 8:22am
Porn Industry

From what I have read since the revolutionizing of the porn industry via the internet, ownership of it is about equal between women and men.

hoopla's picture
Posted by hoopla (not verified) on 13 December 2005 - 8:37am
Rita Cosby

I knew before I clicked on the link that if Rita Cosby was involved in any way whatsoever, it was going to be bad. Unfortunately, I was not surprised. The program will be awful.

But the issue here is about the ad and not the program per se or other programs about porn that include interviews with those who finance, create, "star" in or consume pornography. Since ad content is bound to continue to be an issue, why not urge, then demand, that Blogads always provide a choice of ads, with one of those choices avoiding exploitative images? Currently, the only choice is no ad or a bad ad.

Meteor Blades's picture
Posted by Meteor Blades (not verified) on 12 December 2005 - 4:28pm
I think that's up to the advertiser

They didn't offer a choice, except yeah or nay. And I think that's up to them, not me to insist upon. (I do reject some ads, mostly for blinky graphics. This one was borderline for content, and I'm still ambivalent about it.)

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 12 December 2005 - 5:14pm
those ads

If the question is, as you pose it, "is a 'news documentary' on pornography off limits?" my anwer is, certainly not. To say I am not a fan of censorship would be putting it mildly.

If, however, the question is, would I blog at a site that ran ads like that? Same answer, certainly not. I find the ad to be sexist and exploitive, and expect that the alleged "news documentary" will be as well. I simply couldn't imagine posting things about the unequal treatment of women, or about sexual harassment or rape, with that advertisement glowing in the sidebar. Given how many "liberal" blogs are running it, though, I guess that makes me an outlier. So be it.

Ann Bartow's picture
Posted by Ann Bartow (not verified) on 12 December 2005 - 6:27pm

Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel that the ad pointing to a show that triggers such response is not in fact the same as an ad simply promoting pornography.

I especially feel strongly that discussion about violence against women should not shy away from advertisements -- especially ads that are ostensibly about the culture.

What is it about the ad that is sexist and exploitive? Is it that it echoes ads that really are sexist and exploitive? Why is that? Is the tv show just pushing for ratings? Perhaps. But let's recognize that it's doing it self-consciously, self-reflexively. Maybe their thesis is wrong. Is the mere fact that they used the subject's own advertising imagery to plug the show cause for pre-emptive rejection?

For that matter, which is more obscene? Ads like that? Or pretending that the ad, and the entire industry it echoes, does not exist? Does the mere outline representation of a woman's breast preclude any and all occasion for discussion?

If intelligent discussion of these issues has to take place only in cloistered isolation from the popular culture it purportedly addresses, how sad is that?

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 12 December 2005 - 10:44pm
Who said anything about

Who said anything about pretending the porn industry doesn't exist? Or that anything was obsecene? Or about restricting "intelligent discussion of these issues" to "cloistered isolation"? The teasers suggest the show endorses pornography, because "it's everywhere and even women like it now." The ads objectify women and commoditize sexuality in a manner I find disturbing. You seem to feel differently, and that's your prerogative, but please don't input sentiments to me that I have not expressed and do not hold. Rita Crosby's "kid in a candy store" assessment of Hefner, who refers to himself in the piece as "daddy" with respect to his multiple girlfriends, made me ill, and that's where the ad took me, (though it seems to link somewhere else now) and yes, I found that piece sexist and exploitive.

Ann Bartow's picture
Posted by Ann Bartow (not verified) on 13 December 2005 - 6:10am
I'm at a loss to what I've supposedly "input as sentiments" to you. Sorry. But you did say you would participate on sites that display the ad, and this site was displaying the ad. I'm glad I misread that.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 13 December 2005 - 8:15am
I meant I wouldn't *blog* at

I meant I wouldn't *blog* at sites that ran the ad, meaning if Our Word or Sivacracy started running the ad, or anything like it, I'd quit blogging there, because otherwise I would feel like a hypocrit. I comment all over, (and dang, I need to stop doing and that focus more on my scholarship!) and try to read a variety of viewpoints.

I appreciate that you are really thinking about this issue, but I just don't think opposing the ad makes me anti-sex or anti-nudity or pro-censorship. Will you run ads for Hooters, Playboy, strip clubs? I'd still probably read your blog if you did, but I'd stop thinking of it as women friendly.

Ann Bartow's picture
Posted by Ann Bartow (not verified) on 13 December 2005 - 8:58am
I misunderstood

My apologies for misreading your initial comment. And also, I did not mean to suggest you were anti-sex etc. We have enough cliches to live down without foisting them on each other.

Our Word doesn't run any ads, as you know. Would it affect your feelings about the site if I told you that this site helps to support Our Word?

I would not run ads for actual pornography, or overtly sexist and/or misogynist businesses or publications. This one ad was a tough call as it is.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 13 December 2005 - 9:21am
What do we mean by "porn?"

My own definition of porn is "sexuality that is socially unacceptable."

Porn is the tip of an iceberg. Much of human interaction is sexual in nature. Sex is not about the facts of life. Sex is a fact of life. Human reproduction is so in-your-face, that we cease seeing it. It is considered right and good and just to have sexual relationships and children. Society is preoccupied with it.

I am not breaking any new ground here by saying that sex become pornography when it is meant to create immediately sexual arouse in order to enrich a third party. A strip club fits that definition, but a wife doing a little dance for her husband in the privacy of her own home does not fall into that category.

Are a group of women going to Chippendale part of the problem? How about a beauty pageant? We don't usually associate women as mass consumers of pornography - certainly not in the style of magazines and pictures and paying for satisfaction.

More to the point, what is the social harm?

So long as men have most of the power in this world, women will play the "sex card." It is when men try to circumvent that and "own" that last bit of power, does it shift into the realm of pornography.

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 13 December 2005 - 11:14am
Why the conflation of porn with real-life sex?

I still don't get why so many people still assume that the culture's demonising of sex/sexuality and the human body is somehow in opposition to porn. Or that, flipping the concept, that accepting porn is somehow the same as accepting sex, sexuality and the body.

As far as I can see, looking at porn and how people talk about and react to it, hatred of real sexuality (especially women's sexuality) and naked bodies (ESPECIALLY women's bodies) goes hand in hand with the attitudes and imagery expressed in most mainstream porn. Hell, let's be honest: most porn in general. Fetishising a non-mainstream-acceptable body type/sexual practise is hardly giving more respect. It's just shifting the focus of the dehumanisation.

And as for the idea that the programme could fit into the feminist debate on these topics, well, sorry, I admit I haven't seen it, but I am willing to bet that the programme a) only really dealt with mainstream, male-targetted porn, and b) that it did so not in a very documentary-like way, but as basically a flimsy excuse to get more naked female flesh on TV screens than US standards normally permit. Shit, even looking at the message sent out before the ad gives a big clue, with words like "edgy" (oh yeah, showing naked women is just, like soooooo transgressive) and that pathetic comment about the "curviest" ad. Leering, slobbering stupid bullshit.

I have yet to see a TV programme on porn that didn't take a leering, salacious view, or that actually gave substantial focus to porn showing naked male bodies. And forget any material designed to get women off. We all know that doesn't exist.

I'm also getting a bit fed up with the idea that just because action films that show dozens, if not hundreds, of people getting blown away are Bad Things (and I agree, they are), we should be a-ok with women served up as lumps of flesh for male consumption, cos, hey, that's like More Moral Or Something. What the fuck? Why is it impossible for liberals/progressives/whatever you want to call yourselves being against both mindless violence and the sexual dehumanisation of women? Why the trap of assuming that if you are against porn-based representations of sex, you must be against actual sex? I'm sorry, but porn-sex and real-life sex are not and have never been one and the same, and it is therefore perfectly possible to criticise the former without in any way hating and/or fearing the latter.

Crys T's picture
Posted by Crys T (not verified) on 14 December 2005 - 2:24pm
I'm not sure to whom your comment is addressed

All I can say is that the post is not about porn, but about an ad for a show about porn. How that is supposed to be endorsing pornography, I have no idea. My remarks about violence and nudity should not be seen as an endorsement of pornography.

I don't see how female or male nudity = pornography. Porn does not equal "real sex", as you say. But naked bodies -- even naked bodies fucking -- are not necessarily pornography.

As for the merits of the show being advertised, well, that's not the issue for me, as I most likely will not even see the show. The "US standards" you mention actually do not really apply on cable networks like MSNBC, because the FCC does not regulate cable (yet). Now what is the answer? Is it more censorship, as you seem to be suggesting? Well, who decides? Will it depend upon which political party is in power? For all the "standards" in broadcast television, I've been much less offended by the things I've seen on HBO over the years, even including their softcore nonsense, despite the fact that they are effectively unregulated and program accordingly.

Thanks for commenting.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 14 December 2005 - 3:55pm
That Darn Ad!

I see the image used in the ad as almost totaly iconic. i think to confuse a neon outline of a woman who appears to be naked with actual women is simplistic. I also think the ad may have been used by the ad designer to indicte the cheesy nature of the story itself. An iconic 'stupid' image to sell a stupid show. I see no problem in you running the ad but then again I'm a man.

Impor Hisky's picture
Posted by Impor Hisky (not verified) on 15 December 2005 - 2:32am