How free porn enriched the tech industry — and ruined the lives of actors

Journalist Jon Ronson describes his new podcast series, The Butterfly Effect, this way: “It’s about what constitutes a reputable person and what constitutes a disreputable person.”

More specifically, The Butterfly Effect is a four-hour, seven-part exploration of the impact of the tech industry on the porn industry. It’s about the way free porn sites, notably PornHub, have made it very hard for porn workers to make a living.

The music industry has gone through similar upheaval, but musicians get more sympathy than porn actors (and can make money doing live gigs), Ronson says.

In the podcast, Ronson interviews Fabian Thylmann, PornHub’s millionaire founder, along with a spectrum of sex industry performers and creators struggling to make ends meet. For instance, Ronson profiles Mike Quasar, a porn cameraman and director, who tells Ronson he’s powerless to stop his films from being instantly pirated online. (The volume of streaming sites and sharing methods makes it hard for porn companies, often strapped for resources, to fight piracy.) Some porn stars make niche custom videos — performing content in ways requested by specific fans, for a fee — in order to survive financially.

For two decades since Them, a best-seller on extremists, Ronson has been creating engaging, funny accounts of people on society’s margins. The Welshman turned New Yorker’s last book was So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, about the internet pile-ons against the likes of inappropriate tweeter Justine Sacco.

In a wide-ranging conversation — lightly edited and condensed — Ronson discussed porn’s future, Alex Jones, and legitimized bullying.

Alexander Bisley

So these sites like PornHub, which are stealing porn and giving it away for free, have wildly depressed the money available for productions and the fees the performers are able to get, right?

Jon Ronson

Yes. So a lot of people are making a lot less money and are working much, much longer hours to make that money. That’s happening a lot. Whereas the people in charge of PornHub are making so much money they don’t know what to do with it.

These tech people who’ve never set foot on a porn set in their lives, these optimizers and algorithm people and AB testers, these “respectable people” — they’re the ones who seem to be causing the most trouble [in] the lives of porn performers.

I saw time and time again, people [in the porn industry] would have to move from pretty nice houses to much smaller houses. Porn performers have to go into escorting to pay the rent. More and more producers are going out of business. So in many ways it’s decimating the San Fernando Valley, but the tech people are doing very well.

The tech takeover of the world isn’t being criticized enough. It’s having these seismic changes, and people tend not to think about it because they’re giving the world what it wants, which is free porn.

Alexander Bisley

What do you think the future of porn will be, given this seismic shift?

Jon Ronson

I was just reading a comment on Slate that addressed this question. The commenter — Allen Garvin — wrote, “Dirty magazines are dying, porn shops are dying, mainstream porn video companies are dying (or else getting into extreme fetishes). People that go to porn conventions or show up at strip clubs to see specific porn actresses are getting older each year, with young men failing to replace them because they get their porn for free.”

I think all that’s true. So what will take its place? Amateur porn shot on cellphones. Some of those people will get deals with PornHub, and the like, where they’ll make some money from clicks, but it’ll be a fraction of what they would have made in the pre-streaming days.

And the people who built the industry? Some will move into customs and niche fetish stuff; most others will just vanish away into the ether.

Alexander Bisley

One of PornHub’s tech guys, exploiting performers’ work, boasted to you: “I’m not a piece of garbage, peddling smut.”

Jon Ronson

When I ask him about the people whose lives were being decimated as a result of the business practices, he went, “Ugh, okay. Their livelihood.” He talked like a tech utopian, somebody who thinks the tech world can do no wrong. A lot of tech people go out of their way to not think about the negative consequences. You shouldn’t not think about those insidious consequences.

Alexander Bisley

Tech guys like the one you quote above basically dehumanize the labor?

Jon Ronson

Yeah. In the same way we dehumanize people that we tear apart on social media. Or in the same way that despots from the past dehumanized their victims. We just don’t wanna think about it. And that’s one of the reasons my public shaming book got some backlash, because people didn’t want to be confronted with the truth of the psychological tricks they play on themselves to not feel bad about the bad things they do.

Alexander Bisley

Since Them: Adventures With Extremists, your book and documentary series about conspiracy theorists, the idea of humanizing the dehumanized has featured in your work. Alex Jones, a far-right conspiracy theorist that has interviewed Trump on his show, was one of your early subjects, both in writing and in documentary. Did you go too far in humanizing him?

Jon Ronson

I’ve thought a lot about this, and I think Alex has changed. Alex is a different person now compared to how he was when I first knew him in the late ’90s. A lot of people who work for Alex would probably say the same thing. So the way we should regard him, the way we should write about him, should change. He’s changed partly because he’s more powerful now, and he’s richer, and he’s got an ally in the White House, and some of his conspiracy theories have got darker.

A couple of years ago, when Alex suddenly made a fortune from the Super Male Vitality supplements and so on, that’s pretty much exactly the same time that his discourse got more aggressive. As much as he denies saying that Sandy Hook didn’t happen, he did promote that conspiracy theory.

Alexander Bisley

How do you feel about the future of media?

Jon Ronson

I strongly believe the future for that industry of broadcasters is to welcome idiosyncratic voices and then just give them the freedom to do just that, which is exactly what Netflix did with Bong Joon-Ho for Okja, a film I co-wrote, and what Audible did with me and The Butterfly Effect. The days of gatekeepers making you jump through hoops is kinda over.

Alexander Bisley

The Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap, wrote a compelling essay about the Internet zeitgeist. “I have become increasingly wary of morality disguised as politics and of our reversion to a language redolent of sin and shaming, certainty and righteousness.”

Jon Ronson

Yeah. The way I would describe it is legitimized bullying. The destruction of people like Justine Sacco [who tweeted an inappropriate joke that launched a viral pile-on and that led to her being fired] — what of social justice? It was a cathartic alternative to social justice.

When you’re bullied in school, quite often, you’re bullied by everyone. You don’t have friends to turn to. Monica Lewinsky, in an interview I did with her, told me of her scandal: “I was hung out to dry by everyone; I didn’t belong to any group.” That’s the same as what happened to Justine Sacco — she was hung out to dry by everyone: Misogynists hated her, philanthropists hated her, social justice people hated her, Donald Trump tweeted about her. So that’s probably why I felt so animated about that story … because it reminded me of school. When you’re being bullied by everybody, it’s legitimized bullying.

In a way, it’s the reason I wanted to do The Butterfly Effect as well. Because it’s a story about every time somebody watches porn for free on PornHub, they are potentially exploiting the lives of the porn people they’re watching.

Alexander Bisley

David Simon, creator of the sex work–themed television show The Deuce, believes a big problem with porn and sex work is poor labor rights.

Jon Ronson

Definitely in terms of royalties, back-end and stuff like that, porn people would agree with David Simon. Where they might disagree is that there’s definitely a narrative out there about porn people being forced to do things they don’t want to do on set by exploitative directing. Maybe their boyfriends were coercing them in some cases. But I can say that the side of the San Fernando Valley industry that we were in for a year on and off [making The Butterfly Effect], I saw nothing like that. That may happen in Miami and Las Vegas.

But the [Valley] directors and the producers and the other porn actors — it’s basically a kindhearted and respectful community, certainly more than outsiders might think. It has its problems, but it’s way more collegiate than outsiders would think it.

Alexander Bisley

What might surprise listeners about The Butterfly Effect?

Jon Ronson

Probably the most surprising thing about the series is how moving and endearing it gets. How supportive the performers are to each other. And in the world of custom, in the world of bespoke porn, how there’s this really lovely bond between the cast and producers and their client, their fans. A bunch of people have said they’ve never thought that a series about the tech takeover of the porn industry would make them cry, but the end of the series will make you cry.

Alexander Bisley

And challenge them?

Jon Ronson

There’s this amazing line in episode five of The Butterfly Effect where I’m talking to this girl who was a big porn watcher, and I said to her: “Did you ever learn their names?” And she said: “No, I never learned their names. It’s like when you kill a deer; you don’t name it because then you can’t eat it.”

Alexander Bisley

In addition to the pressure for some of them to work as escorts, porn stars have to be an enthusiastic brand all over social media. Is that a challenge?

Jon Ronson

Yes! In episode two I meet this woman called Maci May who was having a terrible time, and she used to vent about it on social media but now she’s much more wary because you have to be like a brand. She can’t tweet, “I don’t have any money.” She’s discouraged from acting that way by porn producers and directors who say to her: “No, no, you’ve got to constantly be chirpy and happy.”

When she said that to me, I thought, “That’s really sad.” In a parallel universe, there’d be a Twitter where Maci May could do all of that stuff, vent about how unhappy she was. But that’s not the Twitter we created for ourselves, sadly.

Alexander Bisley

“Sex is probably the most interesting subject in the world,” Paul Auster says.

Jon Ronson

I would never disagree with anything Paul Auster says, because he’s amazing. … I never thought of sex as interesting. What I thought was interesting about The Butterfly Effect wasn’t sex, but it was about what constitutes a reputable person and what constitutes a disreputable person. The thing that really got me interested was this idea that tech people are considered reputable; sex workers, porn people are considered disreputable. But this story shows that the porn people and the sex workers are supportive, kindhearted, lovely people, whereas the tech people are amoral, ruthless people.

source;-Vox

One for the money: the great actors who slummed it in dumb movies

Unwatchable. Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman in Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.

Unwatchable. Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman in Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox

Helen Mirren’s appearance in Fast and Furious 8 – or Fate of the Furious, or whatever you want to call it – is notable for a couple of reasons. First, it proves that not even dames of the British empire are impervious to the breathlessly dumb spectacle of a big-budget, boneheaded franchise. Second, it elevates her to the highest possible rank of actor: Thespians Who Should Be Above This But Aren’t.

Almost without exception, every great actor has spent at least some time slumming it in films that don’t accommodate their talent. In fact, you could probably make a highly enjoyable movie marathon out of these appearances. Here’s my suggested running order:

Orson Welles in Transformers.

Orson Welles – Unicron
Transformers: The Movie (1986)

We’ll start with perhaps the most infamous. By this point, Welles’s career had spiralled down to the extent that he was primarily famous for his angry, drunk, advert outtakes. His final indignity was playing a planet-eating robot called Unicron in a feature-length toy commercial. However, this raises an important point about slumming actors: although the work is beneath them, the films are often loads of fun to watch. Compare this with any of Michael Bay’s films, and Welles’s Transformers looks like a flat-out masterpiece.

Judi Dench – Aereon
The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

Dench managed to win an Oscar after being in a film for just eight minutes. That film was not The Chronicles of Riddick, in which she played Dame Judi Dench Who Can Nearly Fly But Not Quite and Also Has a Curtain Over Her Head. It’s long, tedious and far too self-regarding for its own good. But, as Fifty Shades Darker ably demonstrated, at least Christian Grey was a fan of the film. He has a poster of it hanging on his wall.

Dustin Hoffman – Mr Magorium
Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007)

A film so bad it became the punchline to Breaking Bad’s best joke, Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is a prime example of all the bad things that can happen if you hire a renowned actor to star in your stupid movie. Hoffman endows his character with countless infuriating tics and quirks that would have almost definitely been beaten out of him if he wasn’t Dustin Hoffman. Future Oscar-winner Natalie Portman didn’t do herself any favours, either. Unbearable.

Marlon Brando as Dr Moreau

Marlon Brando – Dr Moreau
The Island of Dr Moreau (1996)

The stories about Marlon Brando’s antics on the set of this doomed HG Wells adaptation are much better than the actual film. It is said that, rather than learn the lines, Brando simply repeated whatever was dictated to him via an earpiece; a trick that went awry when the signal was highjacked by a nearby police scanner. He also insisted that his character should intermittently wear a bucket on his head and, although this was vetoed, that he should ultimately reveal himself to be a dolphin. The film is unwatchable.

Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe – Lt Parker Barnes and SID 6.7
Virtuosity (1995)

Now it’s time for a twofer. This is the plot description from Virtuosity’s IMDb page: “When a virtual reality simulation created using the personalities of multiple serial killers manages to escape into the real world, an ex-cop is tasked with stopping its reign of terror.” The film, if you can believe it, doesn’t even live up to this. (NB: the film’s two leads have three Oscars between them.)

Michael Caine in Jaws: The Revenge

Michael Caine – Hoagie
Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

Caine’s “one for me, one for them” attitude towards filmmaking has resulted in a wildly spotty filmography. But his lowest point was the fourth Jaws movie. Roy Scheider’s character has died and his (possibly psychic) widow keeps getting chased about the place by an angry shark with a personal vendetta. Plus, said animal may or may not be controlled by a witch doctor. The film is partially redeemed by Caine’s devil-may-care attitude towards its horrible reception. “I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible,” he once memorably remarked. “However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”

Peter O’Toole – Zaltar
Supergirl (1984)

Supergirl is filled with weirdly mournful performances by actors who all seem fairly close to death – Peter Cook’s role is especially sad. And yet it is O’Toole who takes the biggest hit. Playing a Kryptonian trapped in the Phantom Zone (who nevertheless seems to have access to Bill Beaumont’s A Question of Sport sweater collection), he exudes the air of a trapped circus monkey who won’t get any dinner unless he turns up and goes through the motions. Heartbreaking.

John Hurt – Dr Turner
Tender Loving Care (1998)

Technically, Tender Loving Care might not count as a movie, as it never had a theatrical release, but it does stand out as a bizarre outlier on Hurt’s filmography. The film is an interactive Hand That Rocks the Cradle-style thriller with the thinnest possible erotic undertone. You watch a couple of scenes, then answer an on-screen questionnaire about how it made you feel. Your answers dictate where the film goes next. Hurt’s role was to guide viewers through these questionnaires, and then pull an interested face as they entered their answers. The role could easily have been taken by a monkey in a hat.

Faye Dunaway – Elena Dubrow
Dunston Checks In (1996)

On the subject of monkeys, here’s a film about a crazy orangutan jewel thief and his kooky adventures in a negligently run hotel. You might remember Dunston Checks In as the film where an ape gives an erotic massage to a middle-aged lady. Or perhaps you’ll remember it as the film where the same monkey climbs on to a chandelier and flings himself at Faye Dunaway – star of Bonnie and Clyde, The Arrangement, Chinatown, The Thomas Crown Affair and Network – who then topples into a great big cake. This was probably less slummy for Dunaway than Supergirl (in which she also appeared) but, because she looks like she is having fun in this, it’s still worth throwing on the bonfire.

Cate Blanchett as Irina Spalko

na Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

No matter how prestigious their stage and screen careers, all actors want to work for Steven Spielberg. Even if they end up working with him on a film where people get attacked by giant ants. Even if that film has a sequence where the hero is catapulted to safety during a nuclear explosion by hiding in a fridge. Even if, at one point, Shia LaBeouf escapes death by literally swinging away through the trees like a monkey. This is why Cate Blanchett appeared in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Philip Seymour Hoffman – Owen Davian
Mission: Impossible III (2006)

At this point in his career, Hoffman was a true cinematic heavyweight. He had acted for Todd Solondz, Spike Lee and the Coen brothers. He was a favourite of Paul Thomas Anderson and Anthony Minghella. He had just won an Oscar for Capote. He could pick any role he liked, and he chose to be an anonymous baddie in the second-worst Mission: Impossible film. It made a small amount of sense, allowing him to chew scenery at full volume for his largest audience yet. But what a weird choice to play second fiddle to Tom Cruise’s frenzied running technique.

Robert Downey Jr – Dr Kozak
The Shaggy Dog (2006)

You could argue that Robert Downey Jr wasn’t slumming it by taking a reduced role in a fifth-rate Tim Allen movie. You could argue that, at this point in his life, he had scuppered his career so comprehensively that his appearance in this film counted as a kindness on Allen’s part. Even so, it’s jarring to see an actor so widely feted hopping around the interior of a courtroom on all fours with his tongue waggling around. Two years later, he would rehabilitate himself as Iron Man, becoming the world’s highest-paid actor in the process. But this performance remains a warning from history about all the bad things that can happen if you take too many drugs.

The entire cast
Tiptoes (2003)

Let us finish our marathon with an undiluted cavalcade of slumming actors. Tiptoes should have benefited from its murderers’ row of talent. It stars two-time Emmy-winning Peter Dinklage. It stars two-time London Critics’ Circle award-winner Kate Beckinsale. It stars two-time Bafta-winner Gary Oldman. It stars Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe-winning Patricia Arquette. It stars Matthew McConaughey, who won 18 awards in a single year for Dallas Buyers Club. Tiptoes should have been unstoppable. But it wasn’t because it was a weird hybrid of romcom and abortion drama in which Oldman played a dwarf. The whole thing was so offensive that it was never released theatrically in the US.

[“Source-theguardian”]

Salman Khan, Sunny Leone Top Google’s List of Most Searched Indian Actors in Past Decade

Salman Khan, Sunny Leone Top Google's List of Most Searched Indian Actors in Past Decade

Bollywood superstar Salman Khan and Sunny Leone have been named the most searched Indian actor and actress respectively in the last decade on Google.

The “Dabangg” star is followed by Shahrukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. Tamil superstar Rajinikanth rounds off the top five most searched Indian actor list released by Google.

Other top ten searched actors are Hrithik Roshan, Shahid Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Aamir Khan and Emraan Hashmi.

The most searched actresses list is comprised of Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor, Kajal Agarwal, Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra, Tamannaah Bhatia, Alia Bhatt and Sonakshi Sinha.

Filmmaker Prabhu Deva has topped the most searched directors list which also features Karan Johar, Farhan Akhtar Raj Kapoor, Ram Gopal Varma, Farah Khan among others.

Aamir Khan-starrer “PK” is the most searched film in the last 10 years, followed by “Kahaani”, “Baahubali”, “Aashiqui 2”, “Dhoom 3”, “Kick”, “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, “Happy New Year”, “Hero” and “Ek Villian”.

Besides featuring in the most searched actor list, Big B also topped the most searched classic actor list, while Rekha is most searched classic actress.

Rapper Honey Singh has been named most searched Indian singer which also has Atif Aslam, Arijit Singh, Lata Mangeshkar, Sonu Nigam, Kishore Kumar, Shreya Ghoshal, Kumar Sanu, Himesh Reshammiya and Sunidhi Chauhan.

Tags: Amitabh Bachchan, Apps, Bollywood, Google, Google India, India, Internet, Rajinikanth, Salman Khan,Shah Rukh Khan, Sunny Leone
[“Source-Gadgets”]