Lovelace film illustrates horrors of porn industry
Written by Hysen Sisco, MIM Intern
Linda Boreman, stage name Linda Lovelace, of the infamous 1972 porn film Deep Throat, sought to change the status quo of sheltered ignorance and found herself in an ugly, new world. The new film, Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, is a glaring illustration of the negative effect of pornography on the performers.
Lovelace’s life is one of personal tragedy brought on by ignorance and her attempts to overcome it. She was a victim of the people around her, who thought that her beautiful face was theirs to farm out as they pleased. Married to her manager, who abused and forced her to perform sex acts with anyone for the right price, Lovelace was trafficked and unable to fight what she would never consent to.
Not much has changed for performers since Lovelace’s work. Most still suffer the same indignities and injustices of Lovelace’s life. Often this includes rapes, unsanitary conditions, incomplete medical checks and contract violations from directors and producers forcing the performer to execute scenarios specifically prohibited in their contract.
Catharine MacKinnon, who represented Lovelace and battled pornography through civil rights litigation, explains the hypocrisy of defending pornography as a form of free speech: “the ‘speech’ of the pornographers is the use and abuse of the bodies of mainly women, who were far from free and were not speaking for themselves.”
Many former performers have spoken out about their experiences, describing nightmarish situations of violence and coercion.
“You are a number. You’re bruised. You have black eyes. You’re ripped. You’re torn. You have your insides coming out. It’s not pretty … on set. You get hurt… You can say anything you want and they don’t’ listen… They have another scene to go to. It’s all about the money. They’ve forgotten who they are and they don’t care who they are hurting.”
“You have to submit to others (producers, agents, etc.) no matter how important you think you are, you’re not in control… Having men do disgusting things to me and even if it hurt, I had to make it seem like I was enjoying every minute of it. I hated it.”
“I definitely did some things I did not want to do… I was one of those girls who was gagged and choked.”
Lovelace famously testified before Congress, “You are watching me being raped … there was a gun to my head the entire time.” Addressing Lovelace’s role in Deep Throat, film critic Andrew O’Hehir wrote for Salon that the film’s namesake “was [historically] presented as a symbol of female sexual liberation. It all seems too ridiculous now, not to mention tragic.”
Lovelace personally battled misrepresentation, as she was characterized to be a consensual participant in the filming and subsequent abuses.
The new film Lovelace is almost universally regarded by critics as an unfortunate, incomplete telling of her story. The film minimalizes, and seemingly whitewashes, Linda Lovelace’s later involvement in the feminist anti-pornography movement.
In an article comparing the film to the real porn industry, adult-film performer Aurora Snow weighs in. After quietly defending the low standards of the industry, Snow admits what everyone suspected all along: In the film, Sayfried’s character says “You made me beautiful,” a line said by many performers on film, according to Snow. “Rarely do girls in porn give themselves any credit for being beautiful… Perhaps it’s the lack of self-worth that tricks some girls down the rabbit hole into believing they’re nothing more than a marketable product.” Snow concludes her article with “there are some truths in this film—and when they hit, they hit hard.”
WRITTEN BY HYSEN SISCO
Hysen graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a degree in English. She is from Tokyo, Japan and enjoys reading, biking and analyzing movies and other people’s relationships.