A write up of the documentary 'Hot Girls Wanted'
It's taken me ages to finish this write up of the film 'Hot Girls Wanted', a documentary first shown at the 2015 Sundance Festival. It's nothing to do with it being about porn - I've written about porn before in #HeyItsOkay to watch porn. I think because it's just left me feeling so gosh darn uncomfortable and uneasy and I don't know what to do about it.
So I'd be lying if I said I clicked on 'Hot Girls Wanted' on NetFlix for any other reason than Rashida Jones being the producer. You know, the one from The Office and Parks and Recreation? Amy Poehlers BFF? America's laugh a minute funny girl. I don't know what I thought I would be watching but I didn't expect to sob my eyes out at several points and be left with a very hollow, strange feeling inside.
The documentary is a spotlight on the amateur porn industry and the teenagers and young women it exploits. 'Hot Girls Wanted' focuses on a house in Miami where porn talent scout Riley finds over 18s on Craig's List (Or Creg's List as us Brits always hear) and gets them to come to Miami, live in the house and star in porn shoots. It just doesn't sit right, yes the girls are all over 18, they've come there under their own volition (Free plane ticket aside) and they're able to leave whenever they want, but they speak openly of being taken advantage of and having feelings of being used and in pain after shoots. It's not an easy watch.
The reason Riley moved to Miami and the reason they base the shoots there is because California passed a law stating that condoms had to be worn in porn shoots. In Miami they don't. But it's okay because they get tested every so often and the guys don't cum inside the girls so they won't get pregnant..... Or if they do they give them Plan B, the morning after pill. (Still think these girls aren't being abused?)
Back to the girls. They're all under 21 so they're not old enough to drink but they're old enough to star in porn. It's the same kind of story, they wanted a way out of Hicksville USA and to earn money. They saw an ad on Craigslist for MODELS WANTED FOR TV SHOW AND OTHER WORK or FREE TRIP TO MIAMI, packed up and left without telling mum, dad or boyfriend.
Think back to when you were 18.. When I was 18, I was a completely different person. Obviously. But a completely different person to who I was probably even at 21, definitely 25. At 18, you're still a baby. You still have those teen hormones and angst raging around. You still hate your parents a bit. Your body's the best it will probably ever be and you've got an emerging sexuality that you want to flaunt. No wonder then that so many girls are falling into this trap. At 18, you don't know what you want, you have no concept of the implications that these actions have. Most girls don't last more than a year in the industry thankfully, but their porn does - that lasts a lifetime. When you're a completely different person, there's still porn out there with you in it. When you're on a date, when you're a mother, a grandmother, everyone's still going to know that you got bukakked as a teen.
What also surprised me was that the girls in this film aren't repellent. They aren't broken little gutter tramps that we can dismiss as nasty pieces of work. Sure they talk about sex and porn in the most blase matter that would make anyone squirm but they're sweet and fun. They remind you of any 18-21 year old girl, they could be your sister, your cousin, your daughter. *Gulp* There's a real sense of comradery amongst the girls and, while it feels misplaced when they wave each other off to shoots, their friendship seems the only genuine thing about the whole experience for them.
The documentary shows us just how sinister things can get with 'A latina MILF' (she's 25 and has zero children...) discussing forced blow job abuse porn. This is the work that most newbies cut their teeth on, and because she's Latino it makes her more niche. She gets called puta, mouth fucked till she's sick and made to lick it up from a dog bowl. Just for the record, you don't see any of the actual porn, no boobs or peens or anything. That would undermine the whole documentary as it would be an extra exploitation for the girls amiright? Who is watching this kind of porn? Am I so freaking naieve to have not realised that people want to jerk off to that. And that the guys are okay doing that to girls...And that the girls actually just go with it, they just do it. They just lie back and think of the coin they'll be raking in.
On a marginally more positive note, the breakout star from this whole thing for me is Tress' boyfriend Kendall. They become an item whilst she's still in the porn industry and he hates it but he loves her. Somehow he can see past it and stay with her, despite the torment it's causing him. We actually get to see this when they go to a party and his douche bag friends say maybe they should put some of her porn on in front of her. How absolutely horrendous for this poor guy, and Tress to be fair. Tress only manages to leave the industry when both her incredibly supportive boyfriend and her mother sit and watch her send Riley a text to say she's not coming back. She's a lucky girl to have him and a mother who didn't rip her head off/disown her. We need more Kendalls in the world, not Rileys. Kendall was the strong male rescuing a female.
So what was the point of this film? Apart from leaving me with an icky feeling in my stomach, although maybe that was the point. Rashida Jones explains more in this video interview with Vice magazine. It's quite a longy but I'll summarise one of her most important points. There's an positive argument for this kind of amateur porn, that the girls in the film touch on, in that, "If you're making money, you're empowered, it's your choice and it's entertainment." but Jones counteracts this argument by stating she thinks it's more nuanced than that. She finds it "difficult to believe that the girls who are crying when they're being 'raped' on camera are always acting and performing. I also find it hard to believe that everybody who watches that knows that it's fake and just for entertainment and don't internalise it in any way."
I find myself getting incredibly cross at the girls because seriously, what on earth did they think they were getting into? It's easy to dismiss them - I managed to not end up in the porn industry at 18 - (I went to university, the University of Smugbitchsville) but don't hate the player, hate the game. Feel sickened at the thought that these young women have been completely exploited by older men and an amateur industry which appears to have zero regulations bar taking a photo of the girls next to their ID. Also I retract my earlier statement as I actually don't think the girls knew the full psychological and physical extent of what they were getting into. It's genuinely not good for your anatomy to have sex that often and with so many people. The girls douche etc but there are some things you can't prevent and one of them ends up in A&E because the gland the makes her vagina moist got clogged from too much sex and she had a cyst the size of the golf ball... Let's just let that fact hang in the air a bit.... *winces and crosses legs*
So what's causing girls with nice parents, from good towns to go off and do this? The promise of fame, sure. The promise of money, definitely. But the more sinister one as sited by Jones above is 'pornification of pop culture and stripper culture.' Porn is no longer taboo, which is great if it's the right kind of porn. Behaving like a porn star when you're a teeny bopper because the media is flooded with images of pop stars with their boobs out... less great. More scary. I don't want to raise my daughter in a culture where photos of her favourite singers swimwear areas are readily available in the media. Where gyrating naked on a machinery and thrones makes you millions of pounds. But I'm going to have to aren't I? Lucky me. Anyway I feel like I'm going off on a tangent.
I can't really draw a conclusion from this. Ultimately I feel a bit helpless, what can anyone do about the exploitative nature of amateur porn, other than pay for porn and raise awareness of the dark back story behind your wank? What can Peachy Keen do? You're probably better off watching 'Hot Girls Wanted' for yourself on Netflix to draw your own conclusions. I really would recommend it, even though it's not exactly light-hearted or date night material. I know that I will never look at amateur or teen porn in the same way ever again. (You know what I mean - it certainly won't be fodder for my carnal pleasures.)
Any ideas? How did this film make you feel?
Thanks for reading, Anna @PeachyKeenUK
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