In the piece she asserts that Hustler’s announcement of an upcoming porn parody of Lena Dunham’s immensely popular HBO show “Girls” is a “hostile” “attack” aimed at the show and its complex exploration of the psychological underpinnings of female sexuality.
She explains that “Girls parodies and subverts the pornographic fantasy of context-free sex” and claims that Hustler’s announcement is an act of “revenge by reducing [Dunham’s] characters to chipper sex bunnies who don’t worry their pretty little heads about anything but the next orgasm they can cause.”
Keep in mind that the film has not actually been released yet so there’s no way Marcotte can actually know if the show’s characters have been transmuted into “sex bunnies,” chipper or otherwise.
Richie Calhoun, one of the performers in “This Ain’t Girls XXX,” stated to industry site XBIZ that director Stuart Canterbury “captures the tone and voice of the show, and Hannah in particular” and called it “provocative” and “very well written.”
Naturally, one must take these statements with a heaping fistful of salt and qualify what “very well written” actually means in the context of a pornographic film.
Dunham herself took to Twitter to explain why she’s not able to “just laugh off a porn parody of ‘Girls.’”
1. Because Girls is, at its core, a feminist action while Hustler is a company that markets and monetizes a male’s idea of female sexuality— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham)
2. Because a big reason I engage in (simulated) onscreen sex is to counteract a skewed idea of that act created by the proliferation of porn— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham)
Dunham’s objections are valid and well-reasoned. Marcotte’s objections and the ensuing article however, are less reasoned, as well as being utterly conjectural and completely naive.
While Dunham objects to her work serving as the inspiration for a product that is antithetical to the very nature of her original, Marcotte goes so far as to suggest that Hustler’s parody is a contentious co-opting of the original in a bid to reap revenge on the show’s more cerebral take on sex.
Unfortunately for Marcotte, Hustler is not perpetrating anything more conspiratorial than simply trying to make a buck on the coattails of a popular TV show.
In fact, Marcotte’s opening sentence in the article contains a hyperlink to a Philly.com article that puts it rather succinctly: “It seems as though the only thing more popular than pornography on the Internet is arguing about the cultural significance and debating the critical acclaim of Lena Dunham’s HBO show ‘Girls.’ So, it’s only fitting that Hustler has created a porn parody of the controversial program.”
There’s a reason that the subjects of past porn parodies include “The Cosby Show,” “The Office,” “Friends,” “Scrubs” and “30 Rock.” Marcotte even mentions the latter in her article, saying that “the porn parody of 30 Rock looks like a hoot, a sexualized tribute to the beloved NBC sitcom.”
The reason these shows were parodied and not say, “Happy Endings” or “Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23,” is because nobody watched these two shows. At the very least, they weren’t anywhere near as popular as “Girls” or “The Office,” both of which stand as cultural phenomenons.
Simply put, people don’t want to spend money on parodies of TV shows they’ve never watched, pornographic or otherwise. Audiences want to see parodies of shows that they are familiar with or nostalgic for. And that is what they are willing to spend money on—a practice that is quickly becoming antiquated in relation to pornography, with the rising popularity of Tube sites and torrents.
Just as Hollywood is experiencing a comic book adaptation bubble, porn parodies of TV shows have recently surged in popularity and for the same reasons. The aforementioned “Cosby Show” parody along with parodies of “The Brady Bunch,” “The Jeffersons” and “Good Times” were all produced within the last few years, despite the fact that the source material has been off the air for decades.
The fact is that they are all iconic programs and as a result, there is a built-in audience for a porn parody. There is perhaps even a larger audience than there would be for most porn films. The films appeal to fans of the source material as well as fans of the performers involved or the acts performed in the films (how most porn is selected). There is an added element of entertainment.
Marcotte herself even admits that porn parodies “don’t really parody anything or anybody so much as steal existing characters for goofy sexual displays” and she is correct. The porn parody of “30 Rock” is not as she says “a hoot” or “a sexualized tribute to the beloved NBC sitcom.” Nor is the parody of “Girls” an attempt to “attack” the show’s frank and thought-provoking depiction of “women’s complex sexual realities.” It, along with every other porn parody in the market is merely a calculated cash grab executed by an industry in the grips of a recession.