August 28, 2017

STATEMENT: HBO Continues Normalization of Sexual Violence with New Show, The Deuce

Washington, DC – HBO’s forthcoming television series The Deuce continues the premium cable television network’s onslaught of programs that glorify and normalize harmful sexual behaviors, particularly acts of sexual violence. The show’s main themes—the pornography industry and prostitution—tee up its performers for gratuitous pornographic scenes and disturbing, graphic sexual content. Based on the pilot show HBO made available to viewers Friday in advance of the show’s airing September 10that is precisely what the show delivers.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) condemns HBO for building its business model on sexual violence and exploitation, and is calling on HBO to remove The Deuce from its programming.

“The producers of The Deuce need to use mental origami to convince themselves and others that this show is anything but egregiously exploitive misogyny,” said NCOSE Executive Director and Vice President Dawn Hawkins.

She added, “Maggie Gyllenhaal is one of the show’s female producers, as well as the lead actress. She claims that this is a ‘feminist project,’ simply because she was brought onboard as a producer in the 11th hour and has some say in her character’s development. We beg to differ. This show is inherently and irrevocably misogynistic and will inevitably continue the cycle of degrading women, children, and men who are real life victims of sexual violence and exploitation. This is not a documentary. It’s a show made for entertainment that normalizes the sexual exploitation of those who actually undergo the abuses of pornography and prostitution.”

Co-creator David Simon’s weak defense of his appalling show is equally convoluted and misleading:

You portray it by being direct. It would be a mistake to look at this and think that we are in any way trafficking in misogynistic imagery or objectification as one of the currencies driving the show. That’s what the show is about. I’m not sure how you make the show and avert your eyes and clean it up.

The topic of New York City’s 1970’s pornography and prostitution industries need not be depicted as a form of television entertainment. The point of the show is not to educate or enlighten, but to entertain, and ultimately, the substance of that entertainment is the sexual exploitation of women. To learn more about the true harms prostituted persons’ experience, visit our project Bright Light on the Red Light.

Due to its history of producing and distributing sexually exploitative programming, including Westworld and Game of Thrones, HBO is a member of the 2017 Dirty Dozen List. You can learn more here: 

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