opinion

Post Bush or More of the Same?

Tom Hymes
We have already entered a seminal age for the adult industry. In spite of the exhilarating election of a new young president, the industry continues to face great upheaval and the realization can no longer be denied by anyone that business will return to what it was before. While the election has filled many people with an almost overwhelming sense of optimism, it is difficult if not impossible to imagine any U.S. administration deliberately addressing the shifting tectonic plates that are rocking the industry. Saving adult sexual entertainment is not high on anyone's list of priorities, to say the least. To the contrary, the products the industry produces will continue to be considered de facto contraband, even where they are legal, and the business will remain a convenient piece of meat held in reserve to feed to social conservatives when the need arises, which it inevitably will.

More problematically, there are serious doubts that the industry itself is willing to engage in the sort of self-regulation that is necessary for it to sustain a richness of products and services that meet the needs of consumers while also supporting a market environment that encourages new ways of doing and expanding business. More specifically, with the exception of the Free Speech Coalition, which has no actual authority is this area, who is stepping up to lead a way forward for the industry as a whole? Companies with money are planning for the future, make no mistake, but their own future. In lieu of either an internal or external authority capable of creating and protecting a level playing field, adult entertainment will stay an industry predicated on an "every man for himself" ethic.

Of course, there is no universal law that requires level playing fields. Humans are pretty much wired to compete and win, and vanquishing the enemy is one of business' most satisfying perks. But the recent financial meltdown shows what happens when all the refs are pulled of the field. Contestants do not continue the game according to the rules, not by a long shot. Utter chaos swiftly ensues as each side grabs whatever advantage it can and the playing field becomes in short order uneven to a fault. Competition is obliterated, monopolies are established and in the end a once thriving industry becomes a tar pit of deceit, with the unwitting consumer most at risk.

I hope I am proven wrong as we move forward. The industry needs leaders from within its ranks who care about the survival of sexual expression and creative products that are produced by a robust and distinct industry, and are willing to step up publicly and speak forcefully and fearlessly about solutions to the issues that will continue to impact the industry. These people will need to have a global perspective grounded in realism, a deep respect for the emergent dominance of the consumer and a pragmatic sense of duty.

What I mean is, because we no longer enjoy the luxury of ignoring issues such as fraud, piracy and the monopolizing of certain sectors of the business — i.e. behavior which tends to rewards the few at the expense of the industry as a whole — these leaders, whoever they are, will need to speak truth to power. Some people do this already, of course, and have been very helpful in keeping certain ideas alive and advancing others. But we all know that power only respects equal or greater power, and that the truth often needs to be forced into the heads of those who need to act, even if it takes the form of a gangbang.

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