When it’s unsimulated, it’s, um, porn

As J.D. Lasica so beautifully pointed out in his book Darknet, Hollywood’s War Against the Digital Age, one of the driving influences behind the personal media revolution is the quality of the stuff we’re getting from the incumbent media players these days. Once people begin entertaining themselves, the next logical step is for them to begin entertaining others. Hence, a whole new media industry is being birthed right before our eyes (although we may not have eyes to see it).

There are two things in the news that I want to point to that validate this shift.

One, the AP and AOL teamed up for a poll that shows 62% of Americans say that TV programs are getting worse, compared to 22% who say they’re getting better (they must have included asylums in the survey). These people are more likely referring to network television, which seems more interested in that which is inexpensive to produce and that which will appeal to a younger audience. While I don’t disagree with these findings, I do think that you can find good shows these days but that they’re coming from other places. I rarely watch network fare anymore. Cable and the Web do just fine for me.

But the point is that people have this sense that there’s a lot of crap (I’ve been using that word a lot lately) out there, and crap has a way of driving people away from the smell. This is not smart in a world where attraction is the new promotional model.

Two — and this one is even more fun — George Simpson wrote a fascinating piece for MediaPost this week about how the porn “industry” (he puts that in quotes) is having problems dealing with prosumer or “amateur” producers. It makes sense that the “industry” most disrupted initially by J.D.‘s personal media revolution would be porn, which has been amateurish all along. Read George’s piece. It’s funny as hell (as usual):

DVD sales and rentals have dropped by 15% to 25% in the last year, and one porn industry executive estimates that no more than 15% or 20% of the porn in the wild is “legitimate.” While legitimate porn may seem like an oxymoron, I think he means that most P2P distribution of porn is ripped off from his “industry.”

…The “industry” thinks perhaps it will fight the onslaught of homemade amateur porn videos by promoting the “quality” of its professional videos.

Porn is a $50 billion “industry,” and an increasing share of that is going to people who are now able to make their own porn and publish it online. Who needs the “industry” to do that?

You may be nodding your head saying, “Well, yeah, Terry. Anybody can produce crap.” I watched a wonderful documentary the other night on one of the independent film channels about how independent producers “push the envelope” as regards sex. In this context, “push the envelope” is a euphemism for “show more skin.”

A part of the documentary was about the newest thing — are you ready for this? — “unsimulated sex!” What a nice way of saying porn. So these producers, led by the French, of course, are now getting “real” actors to have sex in front of the camera to “push the envelope.”

One guy was asked, “What’s the difference between this and porn?”

“Lighting,” he responded in all seriousness.

We may all chuckle at this, but there’s a lesson here for anybody in the entertainment business these days with everyday people making videos of their own “unsimulated sex” and selling them on the Web.

As George notes in his piece, it’s one thing to put a camera on the nightstand and videotape yourself boinking your significant other (or not), but it’s quite another “to produce 42 minutes worth of drama that will hold an audience week after monetizable week until you have amassed enough content to move into syndication, where the real money is.” This is certainly true, but only for now.

Those who underestimate the prosumer movement do so at their own peril.

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  1. […] Hmmmmm. That’s all I have to say about that. (Yes, that link is worksafe.) Posted by Jackie Danicki | […]

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