Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

SF Weekly vs.

You’d think that living in the San Francisco Bay Area would mean that your local alt-weeklies* would be a bit more open-minded when it came to alternative sexualities.

Check out this SF Weekly article about how, according to author Matt Smith, “California’s government has been subsidizing torture-based pornography.” By which, of course, he means that a few employees have received training from a nonprofit called the Bay Area Video Coalition, which is funded in part by an agency called the California Employment Training Panel (ETP). The ETP was designed to “make state businesses more competitive with foreign and out-of-state ones by paying contractors who train in-state workers,” according to Smith.

That could be the basis for an interesting story—what exactly does it mean to “make state businesses more competitive”? Which sort of businesses get this special funding, and which don’t? Who are the contractors involved with the whole process? Who gets to decide where the money goes? The problem is that in order to spice up the article and turn it into an extra-shocking exposé, Smith sets up the piece with his “torture porn” lead and follows it up with, yep, more smearing of BDSM and BDSM pornography.

Because Smith’s notion of a “hot story” also involved his asking the ETP about how much money they were giving to pornographers (and, I’m guessing, why they were giving it to them), the ETP ended up pulling their funding. According to Smith, “the government had been unaware that Cybernet was in the business of narrowcasting videos depicting sexualized torture.”

The word “torture” is brought up multiple times throughout the article when referring to, and Smith even brings in an anti-porn activist to compare’s work to the torture at Abu Ghraib. (For no apparent reason; it doesn’t add anything to the piece, except to further represent and BDSM as “torture.”) He then gives a bit of lip service to the legal issues of treating businesses that engage in pornography equally with other businesses:

The stripping of’s funding raises an intriguing question: Does the state’s refusal to train porn-makers violate constitutional free-speech guarantees? I’m not joking. Some serious and credible people says it’s worth considering whether it’s legal to deny training to porn workers merely because they film naked, shackled women with live electrodes clipped to their genitals.

Can you believe it? Some people think that porn workers are workers, too! Silly people.

He also describes the “marketing mojo” of

The company has passed itself off … as a hip, if esoteric, high-tech media startup. Yet its business plan is more medieval than modern, consisting, as it does, of giving people money if they’ll agree to being on camera while being stripped, bound, impaled, beaten, and shocked.

“Giving people money if they’ll agree to being on camera.” Because, y’know, there’s no possible chance that anyone could enjoy that; they’re just gritting their teeth and bearing it because they’re getting paid, right? What’s that? Go and interview some actual models? Nah. Too much work.

Now, check out the response over here at the online newspaper SF Appeal. They point out that the BAVC training is not to support in particular, but to train anyone who is going to then go on and work in multimedia production. The trainees in question don’t just work for, but work on all kinds of other films as well. Interestingly, the SF Appeal notes that Smith himself has taken a whopping 184 hours of classes at the BAVC through the same program—despite the fact that his day job, at least, doesn’t involve multimedia production work.

* Note, however, that the SF Weekly is owned by the national chain Village Voice Media LLC, based in Phoenix, AZ. They are also a terrible, terrible paper, so that they’d publish garbage like this isn’t really all that shocking.

In other news, I’ve reached the 70 page mark for my screenplay and am starting to think I might actually finish it in the next week…