Monday, May 3, 2010

How Justin Long Confronted The "Third Rail" Of Interracial Porn Racism...And Survived

There are a great many issues confronting the adult sexual media industry (or, what we call "the pornography industry") these days.

The ease of piracy through free downloading via bit torrents and "tube sites" and filesharing sites like RapidShare....though there is beginning to be a pushback on that.

The overall economic recession that is cutting in on profits.

The availability of DIY porn via camshows and personal "at home" sites, where it seems anyone with a webcam, a digital camera, and some HTML or PHP knowledge can set up their own money making venture with ease.

The threat of governmental intervention at the first sign of moral panic.

But, of all those threats, none is more intrusive and more important and potentially more destructive than an old and festering sore that on occasion threatens to explode: the subject of racism and racial discrimination within the porn industry.

The quasilegal status of porn has created plenty of subgenres where people of color can make inroads and produce explicit hardcore material for their benefit...and on occasion, there has even been attempts to create interracial porn that expresses the best of communion between different races.

Unfortunately, there has also been a history of interracial porn bringing out the worst and rankest of stereotyping for all races involved.

This is especially true of the kind of interracial porn featuring Black men and White women, which is often reduced to the basest theme of "BIG BLACK N*GGA GANGSTA/PIMP WITH HUGE D*CK ASSAULTS PURE WHITE GIRL(S)!!! This "sub-subgenre", if you will, is mostly justified as playing to the fantasies and "taboos" of their targeted audiences of older White men who still hang on tightly to the worst KKK stereotypes of Black men as wild lustful animals seeking White women for their prey.

Now, it should be said up front that this is far from the only depiction of Black men in IR porn; there are far, far more progressive and humane content which actually protrays both the Black men and their White female suitors as free and equal human beings capable of feelings and genuine empathy and healthy consensual lusts.

Problem is, though, that the former one seems to be the one that makes the most money and sells the most product when it comes to that particular subgenre...and it has many aspiring Black male performers in a particular bind of either accepting the more rancid roles and getting paid (and also getting their hands and dicks on decent looking White performers who don't mind doing Black men with their oversized endowments); or not doing so and not getting the roles that may help pay their rent.

And then, there is also the perspective of the White female performer who may, for whatever reason, be very resistant to performing with Black men.  Either they can't handle the usual size of the dick, or they are persuaded to forgo IR sex until their brand names are more well established and they can gain more economic firepower, or in the most extreme case, they really are that bigoted against Black men. Or, maybe, they just aren't into Black men and just want to stay within their own comfort zone.
In any case, all this is enough to make a Black male performer holla, so to speak...but until now, no one has been moved to action.

Until now, that is.

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Justin Long is not a particularly esteemed name in IR porn; he doesn't have his own label like Lexington Steele or Mr. Marcus or Sean Michaels or Jack Napier; or the status and reputation or a Tyler Knight or Nat Turner. He is...or was...simply a mid-level performer who did the daily grind performing plenty of IR porn scenes for plenty of labels. Yet, last week, with his announcement that he would be discontinuing doing IR porn due to what he considered to be rampant racism and discrimination against Black men overall, he has effectively opened up a Pandora's box of controversy and strong feelings about the state of the porn industry in general.

In a long essay first released to porn venues across the Internet (including AINews.com [here] and LukeIsBack.com [here]), Long explains and justifies his decision. Some sample snippage:

[....] Today I have canceled what work I had in LA and informed my agents that effective immediately, I will no longer be doing any sort of IR porn. This decision was not easy. I am not racist as I have stated and obviously could not be with a White mother and family. I will suffer from this decision no doubt, but I feel the mental anguish will be less of a burden than the financial. I feel horrible thinking that this is the only way for people to know exactly how I feel, and more over the only way for me to yell out, if you will, ''what the fuck, this is bullshit!'' Some will say, ''Well, you are being racist yourself in this decision.''

I would have to agree. It is wrong for anyone to say they won't work with someone because of skin color or nationality, however, what is a Black star to do if he/she is fed up with the racial profiling he/she has to endure everyday in this industry? This is not just about getting between a contract star's legs. This is about, the fact that every solid thing that a black star is not allowed to earn in the adult industry can be led back to three simple things; Agents telling girls ''no interracial'' or convincing them not to do IR, big companies refusing to shoot a fair percentage of content involving Black talent, and girl being given the choice of whether or not they want to choose co-talent solely on the basis of skin color or nationality.

This whole situation saddens me to no end. I am pissed off that I served in the military to protect the freedoms of the same people that would discriminate. I am pissed off that I served in the military and this is what my country does for me, i.e.: nothing, and continues to allow discrimination in my work place. So, the normal way this goes down is a girls statement, ''I don't do IR I'm sorry, it's nothing personal''. How the fuck could it not be personal when a girl tells you that she will not work with you because of the color of your skin?

Even worse it's not the color of your skin, obviously, because these same girls work with European and Latin darker-skinned male stars that are not labeled Black. The same contract and non-contract stars that say they don't do IR are still working with non-White performers. To make it worse a percentage of them are getting fucked off screen by Black males, either talent or civilian. So what really does the term IR mean? It sure in the hell doesn't mean anyone not of that girl's nationality. For example, if an Asian girl doesn't do IR, it should mean she only works with Asian male stars, right? Well, that's not the case. It means she will work with anyone that is not labeled Black by the Adult Industry.


Long sheds special bitterness towards the many White female porn performers who refuse to do IR videos for whatever reason:

Is being Black a target? Is it the kiss of death in the industry. A couple of male performers I know are Black, but very light skinned, and seem to work with these girls on a regular basis as they have not been Labled Black. Non-IR girls have no issues shooting with them, so you would think maybe it's just the color of the skin. But then you get to darker European, Asian, and Latino male talent, all of a sudden brown skin has no bearing!

So, does ''it's not personal'' continue to fly as a real statement? Absolutely not. Girls and agents like to say that saving IR extends the life of a girl's career. I have very serious doubts about that and will use a star I have worked with many times as an example. This girl has shot IR from day one in the industry, as far as I am aware. Very early in her career I had shot with her more than any male in the industry -- White, Black or other. Now she is arguably the biggest contract star in the world. So tell me exactly how did IR extend or hurt her career.

The fact is that non-IR girls use Black male talent as stepping stones and that is morally bankrupt in thought and action. Girls are permitted to do IR and then not do IR, and then start to do it again when their bookings slows down. The sad part is that Black male talent are willing to shoot with these girls which basically is telling them it's ok to exhibit this morally lacking behavior, and it's alright to disrupt our income. Black males are telling these girls that we are ok with the scraps that they are throwing our way.

The fact is that every girl that refuses to do IR is saying (regardless if they speak the words) I'm doing what's best for me and I don't care what happens to you (Mr. Black male talent). Every girl that refuses or dips in and out of doing IR effects every Black male star's annual income.

If contract stars did IR, you're damn right I and others would have more scenes because we have directors that would kill to shoot those scenes. It is the same with all non-IR shooting females. Black males have no problem if the girls are selective in their choosing of who they shoot with and who the won't shoot with. That’s fine. But to just say ''sorry your Black?'' Hello! Wake the fuck up!'' it's offensive, and then to follow it up with ''it's nothing personal,'' that just makes us even more angry because there is no way to take it but personal. The girl will take 10 cocks in a day -- in the ass, pussy, and mouth and multiple cocks at a time -- as long as none of them are Black? Come on! We are Black, not stupid!


Naturally, when you are a young Black man who decides to make a stand, you get your share of critics, and most certainly Justin Long has plenty of them. Some commentators at the Lukeisback.com thread have all but called Long out for hypocrisy in calling out White performers for not wanting to do scenes with him, while simultaneously promoting IR movies which could be construed of promoting the very same racial stereotypes that he condemned. Others have accused him of being a "reverse racist" in condemning White female performers; while still others have accused him of grandstanding for personal promotion, citing that the industry is more about making a profit than anything else.

To be fair, Long has more than held his own against his critics, and has stuck to his principles regardless of the potential consequences to his career. For that, at least, he deserves justified credit and respect.

But....the issue of interracial porn stereotyping of people of color has been sort of a dormant issue not to be raised, lest ammo is given to the likes of Gail Dines and the antipornography feminists who are most likely to raise the racism card when attacking porn for its sins of aggression against women. At a time when porn is under a great deal of assault from so many different angles (state censorship, piracy, the mandatory condom mandate, the recession), it's not at all uncommon to surpress touchy issues that may further divide and fracture fragile alliances.  Nevertheless, the underlying issue of racial discrimination in porn is pretty damn important enough, and anything that even comes close to rationalizing bigotry and inequality simply cannot be left to the Robert Jensens and Gail Dineses of the world to resolve all to themselves by wiping adult entertainment off the map.

As noted in these pages before, there most certainly is a legitimate issue with racial stereotyping in porn, and if it also is proven that porn is underpaying Black performers (and not just Black male performers, either), it could not have come at a worser time for the industry. Flipping it off as simply the fault of pursuing the mighty dollar simply won't do any more; maybe it's high time we listened to people like Justin Long (and female performers like Monica Foster and Marie Luv) and tackled the issue of racial discrimination in the porn industry as head on as porn piracy or the Weinstein/Lubben/AHCF assault on AIM's testing regimen needs to be confronted.

Above all, those who produce and consume porn absolutely must broaden their minds and their demographics to the point that they aren't merely chasing after those who have the most bucks, but actively pursuing the ultimate objective of explicit erotic media: to get people off. Regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or personal preference. In the end, the color of the penis (or the vagina) shouldn't matter as much as the quality of the experience. Supporting those artists who wish to produce more humane, consensual, and more egalitarian porn that doesn't reduce Black people to Stephin Fechit or Pimp Daddy or Black Gangsta roles would be a nice start...you think??

Notice that I'm not calling for exclusively "politically correct" porn that only lives up to my particular values, with everything else being thrown to the depths of Hell; porn, like every other artistic medium, should be a reflection of the feelings and desires of their creators. and those desires are not or should not be reduced to political sloagans or utopias. But, it wouldn't be such a bad idea if the people who actually did the sexual labor actually had some bit of respect for each other and humankind in general, and didn't just create crappy shit just because it gets them the most bank, wouldn't it??

Either way, props to Justin Long for daring to touch that live wire, and surviving.

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[Also cross-posted over at The SmackDog Chronicles]

6 comments:

  1. Allow me to make a quick caveat before everyone jumps in my case here....especially for our fearless Henchwoman/God Emperor.

    I am definitely NOT saying that anyone and everyone who is into the kind of interracial porn that is defined as "degrading" is inherently a Confederate flag-waving, KKK hood wearin', neo-Nazi salutin' racist....even though there may be plenty of the latter who do get off on these kind of videos for exactly that reason. I would think that there are plenty of good, honest, non-racist folk who may be turned on by watching flicks like "There's A Negro In My Bedroom" simply because they happen to like the performers involved, and they are willing to look past the stereotypes to get right down to the part that matters most to them: namely, the sex. Similarly, there are folks who might just be just as aroused to the guilty pleasure of watching a Meatholes or JM Productions video merely for the shock value without in any way supporting the extreme misogynistic messages include therein. In NO way is this to condemn people for their personal sexual desires, or performers for their personal sexual preferences.

    My only points are that the industry as a whole does need to broaden their demographic a bit to include a much more diverse consumer base...and there needs to be some means of better support for those on the middle levels like Justin Long as well as those women who are more progressive in their work specifications as to whom they would be willing to work with. Mostly, though, I favor the time-honored solution of creating independent institutions within the industry where people can get together and make interracial and PoC-oriented porn that is NOT dependent on the usual stereotypes, but does offer a more humane and progressive vision. If this industry can support alt.porn and kink, why can't it also support non-degrading IR, too??


    NOW....you may fire away...basic rules still apply, and trolls wanting a smackdown will NOT be accepted. At least, not here....refer all smackdowns to the SmackChron, where I will engage any and everyone equally.


    Anthony

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  2. This is an issue that I have been polemicizing about for quite some time, and the threads are multiple and tangled.

    What has been happening with porn using the N word is parallel with the music industry and similar rhgetoric used by artists in the genres of hiphop and rap. In both cases, the creative impetus comes from African-American performers and the financial backing from white producers.

    The contents of "N Word" porn differ from the advertising, which Anthony nailed. Hush Hush produces porn where the point of view is decidedly on the side of the black man, mocking whatever fears the white woman in the video expresses. Or, the performers just crack up laughing at the silliness of it all, which is almost de rigeur for gonzo porn. Expect Dines and Jensen to fervently ignore the contents.

    Hush Hush recently produced a WhiteZilla series as a
    'counterpoint' to its Blackzilla line, featuring Jewish performer Shawn Diesel. He occasionally greets the audience with 'Shalom'.
    For what it's worth, as a fellow Jew I'm OK with what he's doing.

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  3. Wow, this is a great read, and I will definitely keep an eye out for Justin Long's work.

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  4. The very fact that you Americans use the word 'race' is embarrassment enough. One day you will realise that there is no RACE allele.

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  5. Anony...

    The very fact that I approved your comment should be embarassment enough for you, because usually I ignore such stupidity.

    No such thing as "race"? Then how do you seperate a dark-skinned person like Justin Long from a fair-skinned person?? More importantly, if race wasn't a real issue, then why wouldn't he have anything to say about being treated differently?

    And in fact, there is one such race that exists: The HUMAN RACE. Maybe if you found a heart and actually used a functional brain cell, you'd figure that out.

    First and last comment here on that. Stick to the subject at hand, or don't be surprised if you don't get through. Our blog, our rules.


    Anthony

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  6. Just because some women in the industry willnot do Black men doesnot mean he should stop doing IR porn. I'm a Black man and I must say IR porn has had a influence on acceptance of interracial couples in society. He shouldn't trip on the ones who don't want to work with Black men, just focus on the ones who do.

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