(3/7/14) Ripped from the headlines this week: The courageous Belle Knox takes an out-front stand in response to bullying. Check out her story in the New York Post and her interview with Piers Morgan on CNN and let us know what you think!
(3/3/14) We take a lot for granted these days when it comes to technology trends, but when you consider that Windows 95 is now older than most college freshmen, it doesn’t take much to recognize how far the world has actually come in a relatively brief period of time. Oh sure, for some more seasoned types, there may be a certain degree of nostalgic yen for times that current froshes will never know, like that ubersatisfying blooop-brrrrrp-screeeeech of a dial-up connection, for example. (Come on, you know you loved it when it worked. Admit it. It made you happier than Gumby at a yoga class.) In any event, it seems that for the most part, people just roll with the changes regardless of age–and regardless of the disruptions caused by advancing technologies. Nowhere is this more evident than in the adult entertainment industry, at least from the consumer side.
To get to the eventual point quickly, let’s look at this in eighteen year blocks. In 1995, the year that most of today’s college freshmen were born, the primary means of enjoying adult entertainment at home was by VHS video tape, either rented from the back room of a local mom & pop video store or purchased by mail order. Eighteen years earlier, in 1977, the accepted medium for the same entertainment was film-based. Full length feature presentations were usually limited to theaters and, as the first viable video players were just hitting the market back then, prevailing home entertainment options were either in short form reels that were played on 8mm projectors or film-strip loops requiring a specialized cartridge player. There was certainly an upheaval in the adult entertainment industry when the disruptiveness of video tape over film occurred, but the disruption ultimately ushered in what many considered to be the golden age of adult entertainment from a business perspective.
In the eighteen years since our current college newbies were born, VHS gave way to DVDs which gave way to file sharing, digital downloads and real-time streaming as the most commonly desired delivery forms. With rapidly improving bandwidth, wireless delivery systems, increased file storage capacity and various ‘smart-devices’ (which, themselves, are now usually obsolete as they roll off their assembly lines), not to mention an incredibly wide variety of do-it-yourself platforms, adult entertainment production and consumption has never been more convenient or cost effective.
As you might imagine, this pace of disruptive change has caused rapidly increasing upheavals and shifts throughout the adult entertainment industry, significantly shrinking the business value of professional performers and first-rate content creators in favor of an emerging model where lower-quality providers can thrive. In other words, no more ‘golden age’ as it was, and while that’s certainly not good news for the existing industry, consumer trends indicate that most people are indeed just rolling with it–and rolling in a big way. Most of the world’s top adult content providers reported record years in 2013, with the U.S. leading the way in per capita porn consumption across the board. (Yay, we’re number 1!) In fact, every major country measured increased consumption in the 2012-13 year-over-year analysis, but here’s the twist: Very little (if any) of the content provided through these systems is actually produced directly or even purchased by today’s largest suppliers.
As is the case these days with most forms of social-based new media, content is often provided by the user base; either DIY produced, technologically stolen from other producers and repurposed into clips to prod a viewer to another site or, in fewer cases, just for fun if the creator has an exhibitionist streak or fancies themselves an amateur porn star and doesn’t really care about revenues or intellectual property rights. Anyway, since the platform suppliers aren’t enduring content costs for the most part, much of their fare is given away free in order to encourage maximum consumer traffic which enables commanding higher advertising prices, all resulting in a very clean and significant revenue stream which is highly efficient based on today’s technocapabilities.
Indeed, the past business model has been disrupted to the point where an entire industry will have to either adapt or die, but that’s not really all that dissimilar from previous disruptions which have been endured. The thing is, those pesky college freshmen are-a-comin’ and very soon will be the industrial brains and muscle, both on the business side as well as the consumer end. Eighteen years from now, they’ll be the ones nostalgically looking back on today with a fond view of how ‘technologically primitive life was in 2014′, but it’s also likely that they’ll be responsible for whatever the next big thing will be. That is, unless some more seasoned types beat ‘em to it.
What do you think that will look like?
(2/24/14) Fewer trends involving sexuality have garnered as much attention in recent years as the legality of same-sex marriage in the United States. As with most matters involving cultural values, it may just be that the old guard of legislative dinosaurs simply hasn’t caught up with the prevailing social reality yet, but the tipping point may finally be right around the corner.
As of 2013, 17 states have legalized gay marriage, leaving 33 who have not. Most of these are due to a combination of existing state constitutional bans and other prohibiting laws, so removing the remaining barriers is likely to be an agonizingly slow process if left to each individual state to decide. That said, there is now a sustained–and growing–majority of Americans who believe that same-sex marriages should be legally recognized with the same rights as opposite-sex marriages. According to Gallup polling trends, that number was at 42% ten years ago, but has been at or over 50% since May 2012–and is rising.
While states’ rights are certainly a key factor on the legal side of the issue, the preeminent twist is that the U.S. Constitution provides for equal protection under the law from state to state. This is specifically why an opposite-sex marriage in one state is recognized unanimously and without restriction in all others. So, where the matter of same-sex marriage is concerned, an inequality under the law exists, literally making a federal case out of it. As that critical detail applies to the looming tipping point, we are now at a place where the majority of Americans (52%) would, if allowed, vote for a federal law that would instantly make same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states. So, what’s holding up that kind of productive progress?
It’s important to remember that in a legal sense, we do not live in a democracy, but rather a republic. This is to say that “We the People” do not vote on the laws that govern us. We select others to propose and vote on them for us. So, rather than continuing to select representatives who stubbornly cling to archaic, outmoded and hypocritical ways of thinking, it’s really just a simple matter of making it a point to choose more wisely. The next opportunity to do that is just a few months away when, this November, every one of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 33 U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs. If you genuinely want progress, make it a point to wisely select lawmakers who are in tune with the majority of citizens and prepared to act promptly.
The trend is clear: Most Americans want this matter resolved in favor of providing equality and justice–as it should be for a nation that embraces freedom and justice for all as defining virtues. It is no longer a matter of if same-sex marriage will be legal all across America, but when. The tipping point is just ahead. The time to prepare for it is now.
What say you?
(2/17/14) We are very saddened by the news that adult entertainment superstar and former Free Speech Coalition president, Gloria Leonard, passed away recently after suffering a stroke in her Hawaii home. She was 73.
Widely known as a pioneer in the adult industry, Gloria appeared in 64 films and directed 7 others during the 70s, 80s and 90s. She culminated her performing career with inductions into both the Adult Video News and X-Rated Critics Organization Halls of Fame. In addition to her acting career, she was also the publisher of High Society magazine for 14 years and an active member of the Adult Film and Video Association of America; serving as its administrative director for 3 years. In 2012, she was featured in Jill Nelson’s book, Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema.
In a message posted on their blog, the Free Speech Coalition praised her professionalism by noting, “She fought for the right of free expression and sexuality. Contributions made by Ms. Leonard have paved the way for generations of performers after her. She showed the world that the adult industry is a place where strong, talented women can blossom and succeed.”
She will be remembered as an icon in American culture for many reasons, but perhaps one of her most famous quotes nicely sums up her lifelong dedication to free speech and feminism:
“The whole point of the women’s movement is for women to choose whatever they want to do. Why should my choice be considered any less or more valid than your choice?” ~ Gloria Leonard
Indeed, the world is now a lesser place without her class, courage and commitment.