The Time a Porn Star Came to Class

November 30, 2012 Op-Eds, Opinion

When a professional pornographic actress visits his class, Brunelli contemplates porn’s social value.

On Oct. 1, A. L. Bach visited our English class at Rollins College. Ms. Bach is not associated with any traditional field of literature, which constitutes a liberal arts education, but rather, her expertise resides in the visual and the vulgar. Ms. Bach is a professional pornographic actor, yet she unashamedly presented herself to a room full of academic scholars who scrutinized her morality and debated the validity of her chosen career.

Despite some judgmental skepticism, the collegiate audience warmly received Ms. Bach and paid close attention to her lecture. It is apparent that Ms. Bach inspired our curiosity because of her industry, and because her situation in a college English class was nothing short of bizarre. The fascination with pornography is a human tradition, for sex has encountered a history of cultural repression. As with most social taboo, sex has the power to incite adrenaline and curiosity. On the other hand, the increasing accessibility of pornographic films has accelerated the process of sexual initiation for the average American. For the average adolescent American, sex is better understood, but continually closeted beneath a tradition of social mores.

Ms. Bach is a professional pornographic actor, yet she unashamedly presented herself to a room full of academic scholars who scrutinized her morality and debated the validity of her chosen career.

I was curious to know whether our class reception of the porn artist was typical of the average American. I posted a picture of our guest speaker on Facebook to see how the online community would respond to such an unusual academic “show and tell.” Within 24 hours, the post received a bonanza of “likes” and positive comments. To me, this affirmed the American fascination with pornography and the encouragement of the industry. Clearly, pornography offers some sort of panacea for the American consciousness: a liberation through the channels of fantasy, the establishment of a sexual identity that cannot be expressed in the external world, an anarchistic gesture against a corrupted society.

Throughout our class discussion, Ms. Bach expressed no elf-disgust or regret for her chosen career. Pornography is her job, not a mission to corrupt. However, while watching the overly-seductive porn artist feign an attitude of confidence and self-assurance, I could not help but pity her. I reflected on the fact that for most of the world, Ms. Bach is an object of exploitation. She is a sex catalyst, which is even more base than a casual sex partner, whose purpose is to encourage the sexual gratification of any unknown individual.

I began to wonder what led Ms. Bach to pursue this profession. The discussion retained a level of decorum and the speaker a level of reticence that prevented us from discovering the truth of her motives. While her vocation may not be accompanied by yearly bonuses, health care or a severance package, she provides for her family in a way she finds enjoyable and fulfilling. For Ms. Bach, pornography is not an obligation but a choice. I couldn’t help but be slightly disturbed by her interpretation of pursuing the American dream.

Pornography is one of America’s fastest growing big businesses with a yearly revenue of almost fourteen billion dollars. While annual profits remain high, demand for adult film stars has plummeted due to the overwhelming amount of willing actors and the relatively limited skill involved with the trade. Because of these factors, the opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors seems to have no end. Coupled with technological advances, pornography has become extremely widespread and even easier to obtain. Over 12 percent of total websites on the World Wide Web are dedicated to pornography, and of the entire Internet population, 42.7 percent have viewed the explicit sexual content. Because of rapid growth of the business, the annual investments into pornography have skyrocketed and more pornographic films are being made.

Despite the massive gains and potential for growth in the business, there is stark opposition throughout the population. While creating or viewing pornography is legal under our U.S. constitution, traditional societal morals and values have attempted to hinder the imminent advancement. Moreover, the career is a dangerous one, with a life expectancy of only 37.43 years, due to sexually transmitted diseases and other sex-related maladies. People often do not consider the disturbing physical and psychological damages that porn artists suffer because of their work. This is not a glamorous career, despite the striking popularity of the industry. People also debate the misogynistic tendencies of pornographic culture.

Nevertheless, the pornography business continues to expand throughout the world. Clearly, it has some kind of social value as a counterpoint to the expected norm. In the same way, greeting Ms. Bach in English class was a refreshing opposition to the usual academic routine. I think we all learned something from this nontraditional curriculum.

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