Ron Jeremy should be worried. High definition TV could mean the death of porn. Although this may not be so pressing for Ron (I mean, there’s little that can be done to make anything other than this balding, 53-year-old man’s schlong look good), the advent of HDTV could mean some serious changes for the men and women who groan and moan their way in this $10 billion American industry.
Ever since Wicked Pictures released the first HD-DVD porn at a Vegas trade show in January, sex scenes–kinky, passionate, and otherwise–have been looking a lot more…well…real. After all, this is the point of watching anything in high definition – the raw, in-your-face quality of a resolution six times that of normal television images.
What’s good for the goose, however, isn’t necessarily good for the gander. Maybe the sweat and grime of that favorite football game in HD is just what the average American man needs. Maybe sports should be more real. But maybe porn shouldn’t be so true to life. An industry that doesn’t leave much to the imagination might be about to reveal a lot more than anyone cares to see.
Who will want to watch porn when it ceases to serve our need for escapism? When it comes down to it, porn is essentially the stylized and idealized version of the sex act that can offer us some sort of reprieve from the monotony of our own bedroom activities. It is a relief from those moments when, caught in the missionary position for the umpteenth time, we look at our partner and see a drop of sweat on her brow, uneven breasts, a smallish penis, or that piece of spinach from dinner between his teeth. While our sex may not be perfect and may not satisfy the fetishistic needs that we are too embarrassed to describe, even to our long-time partners, we have the consolation of taking a voyeuristic journey into the perfectly molded sex adventures of the actors in Tokyo Cream Puffs 2.
Actors in the industry have long been credited with perfect bodies, sculpted by hours at the gym, toned with fake tanning spray, taut with the help of plastic surgery. But suddenly, the megapixels of high definition have been ruining that untarnished physical image. The proximity and in-the-bedroom feel of high definition has revealed the unsightly human flaws of those actors we had previously thought of as pure sexual beings. For the first time, we understand that these women were not born with the skin of a baby’s bottom. Porn actresses complain most about the fact that high definition brings out the bumps of razor burn. Men have had to turn to professional makeup artists to cover up their wrinkles and blemishes. Women are looking even more orange than usual, as they lather extra layers of sunless tanner on to hide the frightening specter of cellulite. As reported by The New York Times, one actress scheduled a second session under the knife, because after seeing herself in high definition, she realized that her implants from the early 2000s were just not as perky as they had been.
Despite the trauma that this physical scrutiny has caused, the pornographic crisis is more than skin deep. Adult film directors and cinematographers, many of them men, have been filming in high definition for two years. Industry insiders told The Times that they created an extensive catalogue of HD films, anticipating the popularity of the new system and hoping to find themselves on the crest of this technological wave. Responding to the panic of their starlets, producers have been far from sympathetic, often suggesting stringent diets and more time at the gym. While men have been able to fix their problems with makeup, female porn stars are turning to surgery. It is only after other options have been exhausted that women have successfully influenced directors to consider different positions or film angles. In an art born of the close-up, however, the options for avoiding the harsh truth are limited at best. In short, it seems like the feminine sector of the adult film industry has really been taking it up the ass from HD.
It’s hard to conceive of the entire porn industry shutting down because of more pressure to “look good.” People have been jumping through hoops for years to get into this lucrative business. Whether it involves extensive waxing (which is RARELY worth it) or avoiding the AIDS epidemic in the San Fernando Valley adult film community, porn is not an easy job. The concerns abound: this could, eventually, turn into a problem of input costs—surgery and constant re-shooting are expensive, as are the rather exhaustive re-touching processes undergone to make the not-so-good look better. Imagine a world when the workingman can’t afford to add That Azz Iz off Da Chain (Combat Zone) to his personal collection. Alternatively, we could see quicker turn-around for porn actors and actresses. This is especially distressing, as there is nothing more comforting than the familiarity of a porn star formed by years of faithful viewership. This loyalty should transcend the aging process. HDTV could sound the death knell for the multi-generational porn king. Imagine…never another Ron Jeremy!
Yes, this survey of the future of porn is a little bleak. But let us try to end on a hopeful note. So far, adult film studios have run in to a lot of trouble with both HD-DVD makers and Sony’s new Blu-Ray Disc product. Sony has actually gone so far as to make public announcements that it will not mass-produce adult films with this new product. It seems as if the ladies and gents of the American porn industry can take a mid-coitus gasp for air and postpone those appointments for face lifts, liposuction, and breast implants. And we can take a deep breath, too. Porn might stay just the way we like it…a little fuzzy around the edges.