November 18, 2001 12:00pm
The Latour Letter - Aunt Charlie Reads Us A Story
Source: Adult Industry News
by: Miss Charlie Latour
The Inside Outside Upside Down Porn Industry, What A Children's Book Can Teach Us By Miss Charlie Latour
There is a wonderful children's book by Stan and Jan Berenstain called, "Inside Outside Upside Down". The Berenstain Bears attempt to teach children to see things in their proper perspective. For those who have children, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren this is a fantastic learning tool, but it is a magnificent tool to help understand the business of adult movies. So sit back boys and girls and Aunt Charlie will help you better understand why the porn industry is an Inside Outside Upside Down business.
With the widely reported mergers, corporate sales and product divestitures among adult businesses and the reckless effort by some adult manufacturers and producers to move the industry towards the extremes of civilized behavior, the time has come to step back and put some effort into understanding the "big picture". It is only when we grasp the "big picture" will we be able to make changes, if changes are called for. After all, ignorance is but the unwillingness to learn by the intellectually deprived. Socrates said, "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance". For those who choose good, welcome to this lesson, to those who select evil, I hope that reading this may begin the process of seeking knowledge.
Let's start with the general concept of this important text; understanding where you are. It is inside versus outside that we must understand. The adult industry attempts to promote itself as an intellectually enlightened group of people who defend sexual freedom through the First Amendment. The spokespeople for the adult industry contend that they do not corrupt the morals of society, but provide a service protected by the First Amendment. On the surface you would have to agree. I know I do. Sex, sexual expression, and sexual freedom do not equal moral decline. You will frequently hear most in the adult business profess their opposition to child exploitation, yet some continually press the age barrier in production and some Internet adult companies almost seem designed to attract younger viewers. While hiding behind the First Amendment some adult content providers want to blame the parents for not installing filters on their computers (which can be easily circumvented, as many adult content providers know) and not restricting phone usage.
The adult industry promotes the concept of "inside", inside the Constitution, inside the rights of sexual freedom, inside the hearts and minds of their fellow Americans. This is where the concept of "inside" begins to break down. Are they really "inside"? There is little truth to the contention that the adult industry is about education, sexual freedom, sexual expression and personal rights. The adult business is about MONEY and control! Not the natural capitalist pursuit of financial gain type of money, but the biblically scorned love of money for the sake of amassing as much as possible, at whatever cost, including the assault on the moral sensibilities of our society.
Adult entertainment has not been about sexual freedom and the First Amendment in a very long time. I know the bastion of lawyers and activists who will vehemently disagree with me. I expect it and anticipate it. Most are intelligent, well-meaning people. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote in a 1928 opinion (Olmstead v United States: 277 US 438,478) " The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning, but without understanding". So answer this…. just how many people would continue to push the envelope of societal tolerance and risk jail time and financial ruin, if there was not a huge financial reward? This then lends credibility to the "big picture" that although the adult industry wants to consider itself "inside", it is really "outside", attempting to use the First Amendment as a transparent shield.
The only conclusion you can reach is that the adult industry is "outside", open for all to see. So kids, as Auntie Charlie always says, the adult industry is "inside-outside". Do you see the "big picture"? Since the adult business is really "outside" for all to see, it is that much more important that it stay "inside" the boundaries established by the First Amendment and the conscious of society. This does not say that we must be Puritans. The conscious of society is an internal perception. Remember, Sigmund Freud said, "Conscience is the internal perception of the rejection of a particular wish operating within us". (Totem and Taboo 1912-1913). There may be a wish in all of us to expand sexual freedoms and sexual projections, but we must, as a member of society, reject that wish for reasons as varied as respect for someone else's personal beliefs. There is no doubt that the adult business is "inside-outside". Understanding the nature of "inside-outside" helps to promote the healthy expansion of sexual freedoms and secure those freedoms we already enjoy. We are not saying what should be right or wrong. That you have to decide for yourself. My goal is to have you understand the "big picture".
The "upside down" aspect of this story is far more personal and much more visible from the inside. No doubt you have read and heard the industry brag about the 11,000 to 12,000 new releases every year as evidence that the adult industry is a major player for entertainment dollars. At the same time you may have heard industry insiders say that the problem of "follow the leader" consumes the vast majority of those 12,000 new releases. In other words, it's "the same old, same old". Few of the companies are seeking to be original and lead, rather they just play "follow the leader".
In a normal sense of business the consumers, through their purchasing patterns, impact what is produced and the producers seek out ways of gaining approval by those less inclined to purchase the product. It's called broadening the market. This normal flow is "upside down" in the adult industry. A limited number of powerful people dictate what the consumer will be fed. This inversion to an "upside down" industry happened in the mid-1980's. Up to that point the demand for certain stars from the consumer would drive producers to seek those stars and to seek information as to what the less intense consumer wanted to see. Concurrently mega stars were rising rapidly. This system turned out major stars like Seka, Marilyn Chambers, Vanessa Del Rio, Harry Reems, Ron Jeremy, and John C. Holmes. It continued to produce the likes of Ginger Lynn, Sharon Mitchell, Nina Hartley, Jerry Butler, Joey Silvera, Sean Michaels and many others. Slowly the insiders saw a change. Of course, the decline in film and the rise of video caused much of the change, but not all of it.
It recent years few new mega stars have materialized. There is Jenna Jameson, Jill Kelly and Jewel De'Nyle, but with over 11,000 new releases you would think that more stars would emerge. The simple fact is, that not allowing someone to achieve superstar status reduces what needs to be paid. The industry's answer is that the public wants "fresh meat". (I hate the term) It has turned "upside down". The flow now comes from the corporate office, not the consumer's bedroom. The reason why consumers flock to Jenna is because she is a big star. People buy JKP videos (Jill Kelly Productions) because Jill is a mega star. I spend so much time with the real consumers of adult videos that I can tell you from first hand knowledge that they long for a Seka, Vanessa or a Nina. They feel "relegated" to what is available. I understand that times have changed. Now women work for as little as $300 a scene, when at one time $5,000 to $10,000 a film was not unusual. My first film in the late 1970's netted me $10,000. Few, outside of Jenna, could demand such a fee on a regular basis today. So the adult industry is "upside down". We have all been taught that business, government and just about every organization is a pyramid. The normal flow is upward. Those at the top stay there because of those on the bottom. Those on the bottom stay stable because those on top give them what they want. In a pure economic sense, as long as the consumer is getting what they want those on top stay there. Same is true with politicians. It is the masses, which elect them. In this case the pyramid is upside down, which makes it unstable. Samuel Johnson wrote in 1778 " a country governed by a despot is an inverted cone". The adult industry is upside down, so you can draw your own conclusions.
Now kids, Aunt Charlie will try to bring this all together. The adult industry is "inside, outside, upside down". But don't fret and worry. In the Berenstain Bear book, the box with the boy bear inside, which was outside on a truck, upside down, fell off the truck and landed right side up, wherein the boy bear came outside, ran home to tell his Mama that he went to town inside, outside, upside down. All ends well because he now understands inside, outside, upside down.
The adult industry will also land right side up. It will take time and the education of the consumer public. Eventually, as the "big picture" becomes better focused more people will understand the problems associated with being "inside, outside, upside down" and will bring about changes, if those changes are warranted. The key is educating the consumer. Just like the Berenstain Bears teach young people, we too, can learn lessons from the simple explanation of what is "inside, outside, upside down".
I have received tons of e-mail about my last article called "A Line in the Sand: The Age of Consent versus The Age of Innocence". While most agreed with my position there were some that disagreed. I appreciate all who responded and encourage people to respond to this article. You can e-mail me either at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com. I have already been interviewed by some major publications related to the last topic and I will continue to be outspoken. My goal is not to offend, but to educate and offer the consumers of adult material a chance to think about various issues.