Porn and More Lies of the Sexual Radicals Print
By Austin Ruse   
Friday, 18 October 2013

Was anything the radicals told us, starting fifty years ago, even remotely true? Divorce is good for kids. Contraception reduces poverty. Abortion liberates women. Pornography is not only harmless, it helps marriages and society.

The detritus of these lies are all around us, the body count sky-high.

A movie called Lovelace came out a few months ago. Who of a certain age doesn’t know instantly what it’s about? Linda Lovelace, at one time among the most famous names all over the world, even now remembered by many.

Deep Throat, the movie that made her infamous, is said to have grossed $600 million. It ushered in what some call the “Golden Age of Porn.” Prior to that, pornography was shown in down-at-the-heels theaters in shabby parts of town exclusively for the raincoat set. No pretenses about story, let alone “art.” What’s more, everybody looked down on porn. Men were embarrassed to be seen watching it. Deep Throat changed all that.

It was the second of its kind, the first being something called Mona the Virgin Nymph (1970), full length, pretense of story, wide release. From the early 1970s to the mid-1980s this “golden age” saw pornography expand its reach into the mainstream. Imagine, Bob Woodward named his inside source after a hard-core porn movie, and everyone giggled at how hip and knowing it was. The other thing that changed with Deep Throat: it played to mixed audiences. The New York Times Sunday Magazine called it “porno chic.”

Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 movie Boogie Nights captured the phenomenon and the era beautifully, though it was – at its core – profoundly dishonest. The conceit was that three things ruined the Gold Age; drugs, cosmetic surgery, and video tape. Before that, the porn industry was a loving family where everyone happily joined in the fun and everyone took care of each other.

Lovelace tells the true story of that era and of the porn industry in general.

One of the neat tricks about Lovelace is that her story is told twice. The first half tells the fairytale the porn industry wants you to know. Sure, she came from an unhappy home. After all, her mother was a fanatical Catholic and her father was a distant, brooding cipher.

The dreamy sixties called, but Linda couldn’t answer – or otherwise escape from her 1950s nightmare. Then Chuck Traynor arrives. Even in the fairytale you can tell Traynor’s a creep, and you can see his manipulation of Linda from 36,000 feet.


             Amanda Seyfried as the titular Linda

He makes gentle love to her and they are blissfully happy until he runs into money trouble. Only then does he take her to a movie audition, and she is too naive to see what it’s all about. For her audition, she actually recites a nursery rhyme. The smarmy producer and director reject her until Chuck shows them a short of her performing the startling act that set America tittering.

The making of Deep Throat is shown as fun and funny, and afterwards she is a star. Hugh Hefner hosts a party for her and tells her she’s going to be not just a porn star – they didn’t even exist then – but a “real” star. There are glimpses that Chuck is not so nice – bruises on her legs, the sound of pummeling in the next room, but folks think she and her old man are just getting it on. None of this comes close to the real story.

The second half of Lovelace is horrific to watch and tells a story that the porn industry does not want widely known. The first love scene between the newlyweds was not gentle. In fact, he choked and raped her. He called it passion. He forced her into prostitution starting with a guy he picks up at a convention. And under threat of death, he forces her to do Deep Throat. Toward the end of their pathetic few years together, after she announces she is done with him and porn, he rents her to five men who gang rape her.

The larger story “big-porn” does not want known is that the girls in those movies are profoundly damaged individuals and those who exploit them little more than human traffickers. Everyone knows that. But not everyone acknowledges it. Linda spent the rest of her life trying to make people acknowledge this ugly thing about her life and about porn in general.

Linda Boreman, her real name, told her story long ago in a book called Ordeal that went through three printings and landed her on the Phil Donahue Show. Big porn pounced, called her a liar, said she was a willing participant. Porn queen Gloria Leonard said Linda never took responsibility for the “choices” she made, “but instead blamed everything that happened to her in her life on porn.” They are doing the same thing now to former porn slave Shelley Luben who tells a story similar to Boreman’s.

It’s odd to watch Lovelace and think back upon days now called golden when we know all that we know now. So mainstream was it at the time that Johnny Carson made silly jokes about Deep Throat. I do not believe that my mother, for instance, or other regular people thought it was nice and harmless. Yet people in my hometown allowed the local drive-in picture show, right in the middle of town, to show hard-core porn for even young eyes to see.

We may once more look down upon porn, but we do very little to stop it coming into our homes. Looking back you can see that Deep Throat was a kind of “patient zero” in a contagion that has swept the whole world.  And right now a little girl somewhere is seeing rape porn on her iPhone.

 
Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.
 
 
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

 

Other Articles By This Author