The Internet has brought pornography to a far bigger and more vulnerable audience than ever before. Technology has made the multi-billion dollar porn industry more accessible, more secretive, and available to far younger people. According to Chris Hedges, author of The Empire of Illusion, The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle,
“the largest users of Internet porn are between the ages of twelve and seventeen. And the porn industry producers increasingly target adolescents.”
Hedges goes on to say that “according to the Internet Filter Review, worldwide porn revenues…topped $97 billion in 2006. That is more than the revenues of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple, Netflix, and Earthlink combined. Annual sales in the United States are estimated at $10 billion or higher.”
According to Hedges, the media outlets owned by AT &T and General Motors companies rake in about 80% of all porn dollars spent by consumers.
Pornography has been taken to a more extreme level with heightened violence mixed with sex. The new trend in the industry is called Gonzo pornography and it is a much cheaper way to produce pornographic materials. This is a filming style that attempts to place the viewer directly into the scene, and depicts real, violent sexual activity with no attempt at a storyline. Hedges says that, “Gonzo films push the boundaries of porn and often include a lot of violence, physical abuse, and a huge number of partners in succession.”
The name is a reference to gonzo journalism, in which the reporter is part of the event taking place. Gonzo pornography puts the camera right into the action – often with one or more of the participants both filming and performing sexual acts – without the usual separation characteristic of conventional porn and cinema; it blurs the line between real life and fiction and normalizes the behaviour.
Gail Dines, Professor of Sociology and American Studies, Wheelock College in the USA and author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality says that, “Porn is an industrial product. I cannot believe how brutal it has become so quickly.”
This dehumanizing portrayal of primarily women affects all of us. It affects how young men see women and girls in the world. It sets up our daughters, mothers, and sisters as targets for a brutality that has become confused with entertainment. Many young men are now getting their sex education from this highly accessible source – the porn industry.
In September 2010 a sixteen year-old young woman was allegedly drugged and raped by multiple individuals at a party in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. The assault was filmed, while bystanders stood by and watched. A sixteen-year old young man posted his film of the assault on the Internet, further victimizing the young woman. He has since been charged with distributing child pornography.
This event eerily mimics Gonzo porn. The Internet has opened up a world of amazing possibilities for our society. Unfortunately there is a large and disturbing price tag attached to it.
Lynda Laushway – Executive Director