Porn and Racism

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There’s some controversy over racism in a Burning Angel movie. I’m not going to rehash it, but if you want to follow it, it begins with a critical article on Jezebel.com, was followed up by an equally critical article (of the Jezebel.com piece), on AVN.com, and has since become a heated issue and hurt some performers.

I mention it here because an African-American man asked me through Twitter why certain “white” women refuse to work with “black” performers–and/or charge more to work with black performers–and I didn’t have an answer. I never witnessed other performers in the act of negotiating their fees, and I was never part of their receiving their money, except to simply see a check handed out on set with no detailed conversation accompanying it. But it got me thinking about racism in porn, what forms it takes and what it means.

I have no clear answer for why certain performers choose, or choose not to work with performers of various ethnicities. I will start asking, though.

As far as the BA incident, it is discussed in detail on Danny Wylde’s blog, under his apology post (here). Danny was the performer involved in the “yellowface” incident for Burning Angel’s movie/parody inspired by The Walking Dead. Also instructive is Ela Darling’s YouTube response to the incident (below).

I’m glad to see this is being discussed. Also, Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals’ writeup, PVV – yellowface, porn, and invisible racism, points out some problematic areas in both Tracie Egan Morrissey’s (Jezebel.com) and Peter Warren’s (AVN.com) perspectives (here). Despite the “it’s just porn” chant from commentors, this is the kind of thinking that allows abuse to go unchallenged–and not just in what some people consider “silly” “harmless” forms of racism. Many industry people were up in arms when they found that AVN was nominating, giving publicity to and rewarding a number of piracy tube sites under a “Best Free Porn Site” award at this year’s AVN Award Show. There is nothing redeeming about insulting the industry and its members.

These issues coming up in conversation could result in positive change. I hope they don’t just fade away. Thoughtfulness in porn production is no more unrealistic than thoughtfulness while experiencing its pleasures.


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Author: Julie Meadows

Francophile, oenophile, French Scrabble advocate and future zombie apocalypse survivor.

3 Comments

  1. I agree that regardless of which side of the fence you fall on here that this is a topic which should be discussed, as I feel it is healthy for the adult industry overall.

    Personally, I don’t buy the whole “It’s only porn” (or “It’s only [anything]“) excuse from commentators wishing to use it as justification, as I don’t feel that is a reasonable explanation for any type of severe insensitivity. At the same time, however, I don’t believe for a moment that any insensitivity was intended by Joanna Angel, Danny Wylde, or anyone else involved in the film. In fact, I share Ela Darling’s opinion of Danny Wylde and the Burning Angel studio – Wylde has displayed his intelligence numerous times and BA stands out as one of the coolest and most unique companies in the business.

    At the end of the day, I’ll side with Darling’s viewpoint: It was an isolated case of bad judgment by some intelligent, talented and valuable people.

  2. Ela’s video is perfect! Respectful, yet thoroughly explains the problem and why.

  3. I’ve seen Walking Dead and when I had seen Danny Wylde in makeup my immediate reaction was to note that he does look like the character he is portraying, Glen. At the same time, if I had seen a picture of him, without makeup, and there was a note simply stating he was a character in a porn parody of Walking Dead, I probably wouldn’t have been able to guess which character he was supposed to be.

    My belief is that they simply wanted the hired actor to look closer to what they were going for and that it wasn’t racially motivated. Besides, for all I know Burning Angel tried to hire that sole asian male pornstar, or get a new one into the industry, and just couldn’t find a person in time.

    I’d agree that it was simply a poor choice.

    Learning of this situation however made me remember the movie “White Chicks” were two of the Wayans brothers wore whiteface, pretending to be chicks. (I was going to make a point but I couldn’t figure out a way to do it)

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