From the FLP mailbox:
The way filmmakers Chyng Sun and Miguel Picker see it, the cure for bad speech is more speech. That’s exactly why they’ve come up with a plan to get their hard-hitting documentary film about the porn industry screened on as many college campuses as possible.
In response to the national controversy surrounding the screening of a hardcore porn film at the University of Maryland this week, Sun and Picker have cut a deal with their distributor to do exactly what Digital Playground, the makers of the porn film in question, are doing with their film: make it available at no charge to any campus that wants to show it.
“This is a great opportunity for this film to reach a wider audience,” Sun, a professor of media at New York University, said of her documentary, The Price of Pleasure. “Especially given that male college students were our target audience going in. We did numerous focus groups to find the right tone and approach to speak to them.”
The Media Education Foundation (MEF), one of the nation’s leading distributors of educational films on media and social and cultural issues, has announced that it will send a free copy of Sun and Picker’s devastating expose of the porn industry to faculty and students who are willing to screen the documentary on their campus.
MEF is asking those interested in setting up a screening of The Price of Pleasure to visit http://www.mediaed.org/wp/price-of-pleasure-press. Once there, they can watch a trailer and request a free copy of the film, on three-week loan.
“The reason we’re making this film available to screen for free is simple,” said MEF Executive Director Sut Jhally. “What’s needed on this issue is more discussion, not less, and this film is a perfect vehicle for achieving this. If faculty and students who supported the decision to show the porn film at the University of Maryland are serious about their defense of free speech and open debate, they’ll fight to make sure this documentary is shown as well.”
The firestorm at the University of Maryland ignited when students decided this week to screen a $10 million-dollar, 2 1/2-hour hardcore porn film called Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge, which is being offered to campuses around the country for free by Digital Playground as part of an innovative marketing strategy. When state legislators tried to stop the screening, students on the College Park campus fought back, claiming their free speech rights were being threatened by overly moralistic politicians.
According to University of Texas journalism professor Robert Jensen, who is featured in The Price of Pleasure, one of the central aims of the documentary is to move the debate about pornography beyond precisely these kinds of predictable, and distracting, arguments about morality and free speech.
“The film tries to move the discussion beyond a clash between a rigidly moralistic position and the irresponsibly individualistic free-speech response we hear so often whenever the issue of pornography comes up,” Jensen said. “Instead of asking important questions about what a relentlessly sexist and routinely racist pornography genre says about our culture, conservatives try to assert control and liberals try to assert independence. Complex questions about contemporary pornography are too often derailed by a debate that never gets past First Amendment arguments.”
The Price of Pleasure intervenes in this debate by taking a sustained and often disturbing look at pornography itself, placing the voices of producers, performers, industry critics, and anti-porn activists alongside candid observations from men and women about the role pornography has played in their lives.
Campus organizers who request a free copy of the film will also be able to download a number of other resources, including materials to help promote their screenings and a study guide designed to help viewers navigate the troubling issues the documentary explores.