Okay, not entirely true, but it got pretty porny there for a spell after I discovered- via google search- that if you typed in my maiden name and the name of this actor I worked with on a TV movie from 1991, a link came up claiming to have a video of "hot sexy ME getting banged".
Let me just clarify that I never even came close to showing/doing anything on film that wasn't G rated at anytime during my illustrious fifteen year acting career. No one even asked to see my boobs, or anything else for that matter, so naturally I was kind of curious. Was I the victim of some Tucker Max inspired video that had surfaced and been sold to a porn site? And why the link didn't use the name of the the actor, who went on to become a two time Academy Award winner, was confounding.
When I clicked on the "hot sexy ME getting banged" link, a clip that I had filmed from the TV movie popped up. It's where the actor and I fall onto a bed in a romantic embrace and it fades to black right before my character gets knocked up and ruins his character's life. I have enormous hair and am clearly wearing some industrial strength enhancers aka. chicken cutlets-my cleavage is ridiculous in a skin tight blue jean mini dress fit for my role as The Trashy Girlfriend. The clip by itself is as tame as it gets. It aired on prime time twenty two years ago and is acceptable for my five and seven year olds to watch-the questions about why I am kissing someone that isn't Daddy, notwithstanding.
It's the... other stuff, the retinally scarring framework around the clip that got me a little...concerned.
While I won't go into detail, suffice it to say that the images the website chose to feature alongside our romance novel cover make-out scene were most likely illegal, utterly disturbing, and certainly not titillating. Porn can be pretty gross-unless it isn't.
During his obscenity trial, Larry Flynt posed the question: which is more obscene-sex or war? I get the point he is trying to make, obviously, but in my opinion, the kind of porn he and websites like his are purveying and defending is the equivalent of looking at a photograph of soldier pissing in the oozing skull of the innocent civilian he just shot in the head for laughs. Or watching a hunter pose with the bear he just killed, the deceased's tongue lolling out of its mouth, an arm draped around its executioners shoulders like they are old pals. It's exceptionally gross, and it lacks any shred of decency or humanity. And it's usually the female who is being degraded.
Larry Flynt can say stuff like "If the human body's obscene, complain to the manufacturer, not me" all that he wants to defend his choice to sell smut, but in my not so humble opinion, it is all about context. Last week, I saw a picture of a banana shoved into a cantaloupe on a friend's Facebook page. With all the fresh imagery now permanently burned into my brain, it seemed totally pornographic to me, which according to Justice Potter Stewart can be judged by the "I know it when I see it" standard set in 1964. Although the fruit image was designed to provoke, if a child were to see it, they'd likely miss the overt, raw sexual nature of the photograph because they have no context for it. I, on the other hand, have all sorts of context, but did not find it offensive in the least because I am pretty sure that no cantaloupes or bananas were coerced into the act, nor did they pose for the picture to fuel their heroin addiction, or need for approval from a lifetime of sexual or emotional victimization. Neither piece of fruit contracted HIV or was punched in the stomach to appeal to a broader audience, either.
You be the judge...obscene or just really fucking delicious?
The weirdest part about this whole experience by far was not having to view a bunch of porn, or even having my actress likeness lumped in with something totally distasteful to me. No, it was having to share this experience via email with a complete stranger- the female lawyer in charge of licensing for NBC/ Universal.I wrote to her,explaining that a twenty year old clip was being used illegally to promote other people's porn on an incredibly yucky website. She wrote back to me right away asking me to send her every link to it that I could find, which meant having to click on every google result for six pages until the results no longer applied to me "getting banged". It was a long, disturbing night and my sexual landscape is forever scarred by what I came across. The Playboy magazines of my youth, discovered one summer in my uncle's man cave up in the attic (I liked to read the comics, I swear), now read like Highlights Magazine. I'd totally pay to watch Goofus and Gallant have full on orgy with the Timbertoes AND Poozy, Woozy, and Piddy if I could have my memory cleared of what I've seen.
I can only assume my lawyer acquaintance must feel somewhat the same way, since she, too, had to click on the all of the links I sent her to verify that the clip was in fact an NBC/ Universal property. She replied with a great deal of empathy, and apologized, understanding that I must be so upset. She drafted a cease and desist letter and cc'd me when she sent it. I was glad to know that the link came down the following week. Yes, I braved the search a few more times to make sure that it didn't just move somewhere else. I switched the computer to the "safe search" setting, fearing my inquisitive seven year old might google my name while researching for her Wannanosaurus report. I can't imagine trying to explain the things I've seen to someone who thinks a big hug is where babies come from, but if it happens, I'd be inclined to show her the cantaloupe picture and call it a day.