I have made no bones in the past regarding my (mostly) casual enjoyment of pornography. I understand that there have been serious problems in the past, that there continue to be problems, and that if not discussed and put into context pornography has serious ramifications for women. In all of our discussion of it though, we often forget the people actually involved are actually, well, people.
Which is why I loved Michael Grecco‘s documentary, Naked Ambition, so much. In the film he chronicles his attempt to create a tasteful coffee table book about the adult entertainment industry, as well as the events surrounding the AVN convention and awards (also known as the “Oscars of Porn.”) A good deal of attention is paid to the edgy, and not just in a sexual way, nature of the culture.
He shows us, however, a very human and touching side of the whole affair. Following two young women who are up for the Best New Performer Award, he learns the stories of how they entered the industry, what their hopes and dreams have been and are, and why they enjoy what they do so much. Much of the focus is put on a particular young woman, by the stage name of Sunny Lane. Sunny tries to play it off that just being nominated is a big deal, but it shows throughout that she really wants this. In the end, neither young woman wins, and Michael brings her backstage to shoot her for his book. The first time she holds it together, he brings her back, knowing he can get a more honest look out of her a second time. This time she barely holds it together. You can see in her eyes that this was important to her, and that it hurt.
We tend to make presuppositions about people all the time. With pornography it is a little more obvious. You always here the comments about drug addiction and “daddy issues” (which is funny, because Sunny’s parents were both there to support her at the awards.) The people who write at length about the evils of pornography, and they are often right, to a degree, forget that there are real people, as diverse as the rest of the world, involved with it.
As an activist I have to remind myself all the time that every door I knock on has its own story behind it. I have to remind myself that even when the people slam the door in my face, even when they call me a liar or an idiot, I am still fighting for them. We don’t all think, feel, or want the same, but we all have to fight our way and find our place in the world together, and we all need to respect the other’s fight.