No Respect: The Outcry Over Dark Alley’s Gaytanamo

Posted April 9, 2007 11:15 PM by with 0 comments

Rodney Dangerfield should have worked in pornography. The lack of respect accorded to the world’s favorite film genre is profound, and as a pornographer you’re less likely to find accolades outside the industry than a hooker (even one with a heart of gold) is to find love. People talk a good game, sure, but only into their tissues. But careful: show more than an intonation of violence (because there’s none in other forms of popular culture) and you’ll have parents protesting quicker than if it were Itchy and Scratchy or Beavis and Butthead. Make a porn set on a farm or frathouse and it’s derided as filler fluff; make a porn set in a military prison and you’re suddenly a baby killer.

gay-porn-gaytanamo-boxcover-dvd-dark-alley-pic.jpgTake the recent uproar about Dark Alley Media’s recent release, Gaytanamo. When Matthias von Fistenberg and Owen Hawk first sent us the script, we thought it was clever enough to reprint (at least in part). They even got a little angry that we disclosed that it was not, in fact, filmed at a CIA black site. First, the Washington Blade picked up on the story, calling it “a new low in bad taste” then Queerty picked up the story. Suddenly there was a full backlash from porn fans across the globe who find it “inappropriate” “offensive” and “designed to capitalize on suffering.” But that was only the beginning …gay-porn-gaytanamo-dark-alley-tim-rusty-oral-pic.jpgOwen Hawk wrote back in protest, in brief discussing the borderland status of porn, politics of fetish (with a nod to Foucault) and the ability for things that disgust us to turn us on (and in doing so illuminate some of the reasons why the conflict exists in the first place). To which the mass of people responded (I’m summarizing) “Gimme a break — it’s just porn!”

I’ll resist making the porn is art argument (primarily because I don’t believe most of it is, any more than I believe television is art. This isn’t to say, however, that I don’t hold both in high regard or feel passionately about them because I do. But art is primarily for it’s own sake and most pop culture — including porn — is commercial.) Porn is fun and disturbing and weird and hot — it can elicit reactions that make you uncomfortable, it draws on the aesthetics and mood of a culture without being wholly defined by them. That’s part of its beauty.

gay-porn-gaytanamo-owen-hawk-sling.jpgThe real fascists are not the perverts in the uniforms in Gaytanamo — they are the members of the left and right who claim that media has more power over people than people have over it. Of course, as Gaytanamo only comes out today, the deskchair quarterbacks protesting certainly haven’t seen the movie but they’ve more than certainly decided that what it contains is either insensitive authoritarian filth or insubstantial sex fluff. Chances are that, as entertainment, it’s both and neither and a whole lot more than a few zinger-friendly reductive definitions. It’s insulting to the industry to claim otherwise — and requires black-and-white standards for porn that few require of 24, All In the Family or The Sopranos.

I dunno: am I crazy for taking porn seriously or crazy for not taking it seriously enough? Or both?

Related:
Dark Alley Filmography
Gaytanamo Trailer in HD (DarkAlley.com)

Mike

No responses to No Respect: The Outcry Over Dark Alley’s Gaytanamo

  1. montewarden April 10th, 2007 at 9:10 AM

    Man that movie is fucken hot. And the real sickness is not fantasizing about violence but doing it for real to real people. Listen up Cheney and all the people who tacitly support the illegal imprisonment and abuse at Guantanamo.

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  2. Patric April 10th, 2007 at 11:17 AM

    C’mon people, it is just porn! Jeez! “Designed to capiltalize on suffering”? Yeah, unlike MASH, China Beach, the 9/11 movies, Over There and other shows in the US and abroad.

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  3. Chuck April 10th, 2007 at 12:39 PM

    I have to agree with Mike, since the whole meaning behind porn is for some lonely Joe Shmoe to get off on some erotic pictures. It really shouldn’t serve as any worth debating over the intent of the director, or the themes that it so violently exclaims. You don’t see people making an uproar every time a porn about barely legal twinks premiers, so why should a fetish film fare any differently?

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  4. Michael April 10th, 2007 at 2:04 PM

    Wooooow!!!
    Dany Fox is GREAT!!!!!!

    Reply

  5. Jef April 10th, 2007 at 4:42 PM

    “The real fascists are not the perverts in the uniforms in Gaytanamo — they are the members of the left and right who claim that media has more power over people than people have over it. ”

    And so, what is the argument for the barebacking issue? I thought pornos weren’t supposed to show something that encouraged the audience to go out and do it. Or are we just to accept the hypocritical Dark Alley explanation that exhibition of prisoner abuse is merely for art’s sake?

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  6. ted April 10th, 2007 at 4:45 PM

    the way you described porn, sounds exactly like what culture/art/media does to people on an everyday basis. art has to sell itself as well, and at times through these “bad-taste,” “scandalous” methods…
    but are they any better/worse than the filth we see everyday on television?
    reclaiming the shit that we are exposed to everyday for our own pleasure, is, like the word “queer,” a form of renegotiating our surroundings and creating some sort of sense or justification, or rebellion for/against it.
    when is someone going to make a film about george w. bush getting raped? :)

    Reply

  7. Salami Joe April 10th, 2007 at 4:56 PM

    Mike, you said that porn isn’t art, then you said “Porn is fun and disturbing and weird and hot — it can elicit reactions that make you uncomfortable, it draws on the aesthetics and mood of a culture without being wholly defined by them.” Isn’t THAT what art does? Beside, if porn isn’t art, then it’s just pornography and can be judged as such by the majority of courts in this country and thus eliminated. So whether or not you think so, let’s call it art, okay?

    When I first heard the title GAYTANAMO, I just rolled my eyes. Not because it’s insensitive, which it is (would you likewise defend a video called AUSCHWITZ STUDS?), not because it’s clever, which it isn’t, but because it’s obviously just an attention-grabbing ploy from the “let’s cause a scandal and get free publicity” school of Michael Lucas by the two knuckleheads at Dark Alley.

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  8. Mike April 10th, 2007 at 8:03 PM

    Do straight people have these debates about their porn? Or do they just sit back, jack off, and think “this is hot”? I’m not saying this isn’t in bad taste but is it really that offensive? This is just the latest in a long line of darker “bondage” themed films — see Abduction I or II, The Missing, and almost Anything by Cazzo. If it was named Sex Detention Camp, no one would give it another thought — except maybe “this is hot.”

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  9. MIke April 10th, 2007 at 8:48 PM

    IT’s not that porn can’t be art — it’s just that the designation tends to stifle discussion by sidelining it with a qualifier. So, for example, with Gaytanamo, it would mean that the violence and “social commentary” are valid only if it’s “art.” The implication is that otherwise, it’s just exploitative. I think that’s a false distinction.

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  10. Salami Joe April 11th, 2007 at 5:59 AM

    Has a straight company made a Guantanamo porn? Dark Alley Media certainly COULD have called it SEX DETENTION CAMP, so why didn’t they? The fact that they called it GAYTANAMO says, to me, that they were trying to be shocking for publicity’s sake. I guess higher sales trumps a clear conscience.

    Is anyone saying art can’t be exploitative? Of course it can. Who’s to say that deVinci didn’t paint the Mona Lisa with the intent for it to be a pin-up picture? Art should try to elicit some reaction, which exploitation also does, but the difference is intent. Art, I’d argue, has a more noble intention, to create something that is ongoing, while exploitation just tries to cash in on a popular trend. Which one do you think GAYTANAMO is doing? And who knows? GAYTANAMO may be art in spite of itself, but I doubt that’s what DAM intended.

    Yes, some people say, “What the fuck? It’s just porn. Who gives a shit?” and in the bigger picture, I suppose it is. My main gripe, which I didn’t intend to get sidetracked into art vs. exploitation, is that DAM is taking a tragic situation and exploiting it for the publicity to make a few extra bucks. Here’s to the sequel, ABU GHRAIB ASS-GRABBERS.

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  11. James April 11th, 2007 at 9:08 AM

    Hey Salami. There is a porno, starring Chad Knight, called “Mein Kock.”

    Reply

  12. Donna Martin April 11th, 2007 at 1:03 PM

    It’s funny that there are no contentious comments following the original GPB post about GAYTANAMO.

    I find it remarkable that those with the most politically correct attitudes only take offense to something once a bandwagon has come by to hop onto. Don’t go forming your own opinion, anyone.

    When our government is sanctioning torture and we as an industry clearly didn’t elect to put said government into power, personally, I think a little bit of criticism through camp and homoeroticism is warranted.

    In fact, I think it’s mandated.
    Way to go, Dark Alley.

    With all of the Jerry Bruckheimer-nuclear-threat-Ben-Affleck-Vin-Diesel-Kiefer-Sutherland mainstream media raking in hundreds of millions of dollars per year, capitalizing off of the exploitation of war (not to mention glorifying racism and fear), all that Dark Alley is really guilty of is producing a porn that loosely taps into world headlines.

    I feel so thankful that I don’t get my, Donna Martin’s, panties in a twist over things like this and I can just laugh at all of the blood pressure as it rises (and then go for a cappuccino with Brenda and hit Melrose).

    Reply

  13. Robert April 11th, 2007 at 2:46 PM

    I take issue with several things said: Just because a person is able to quote a random theorist does not legitimate his claim (and linking to Wikipedia is hardly scholarly). I could list a string of theorist to refute and support Foucault. Besides, Foucault can’t offer insight into the depths of this situation. There is more at stake in this title than sexuality or the relationship between sexuality and politics; there are (real and present) political/humanitarian concerns explicitly related to the concept. And the claim comparing this to Auschwitz is a perfectly legit one. Also, the claim that Art exists solely for itself is wrong (and porn can’t really be considered art in my eyes). Art may only exist for itself in some cases (as with the Decadents) but it may also serve very real needs (like the New Wave feminist art). And finally, media as easily controlled by the public is a false assumption. While I do agree that seeing violence on TV may not directly cause one to use violence on people, the ubiquity of the media and its influence on the public is far more reaching and insidious than most people recognize.

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  14. Sal April 11th, 2007 at 3:15 PM

    That is the problem these days – we take porn too serious! Folks need to lighten up!

    S

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  15. Anonymous April 11th, 2007 at 4:18 PM

    Salami Joe says: deVinci etc. etc…
    Man, I’m in line with you for all that you say but, it’s “Da Vinci” (exactly: Leonardo Da Vinci), not that fuckin’ “deVinci”! OK? ;)

    Reply

  16. Salami Joe April 11th, 2007 at 5:29 PM

    deVinci/Da Vinci/poTAYto/poTAHto. Let’s call the whole thing off! :)

    And Sal, this isn’t about taking porn seriously, it’s about being deliberately insensitive and exploitative to a tragedy in order to get publicity and make a buck, which SHOULD be taken seriously.

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  17. Mike April 11th, 2007 at 7:36 PM

    Just to be clear on people’s beliefs — the EXACT SAME PORN with a different name and no references to Guantanamo would be completely ok? I/we’ve wasted enough time on this (and Imus and Anna Nicole’s child) already — why aren’t we using this rage to do something about Guantanamo Bay and the regime that created it?

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  18. Mike April 11th, 2007 at 7:42 PM

    I guess what I’m trying to say, is that we (as ostensible liberals) are easily sidetracked by names and words and feelings when there are tangible, practical issues that need to be addressed. Maybe the day we no longer have government-sponsored detention camps is the day we should start worrying about whether porn is or is not art and whether that completely arbitrary category makes the film any more or less exploitive?

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  19. fedup April 11th, 2007 at 9:41 PM

    Art is art when the artist says “I’m finished.” It’s then up to each and every one of us to decide for ourselves whether it’s well done, responsible, exploitative, etc.

    This discussion about what “art” is wreaks of quasi intellectual nonsense. Are people on a PORN blog actually cutting and pasting from Wikipedia (which has problems of its own) and citing Foucault? Give me a break!

    This film was titled Gaytanamo to garner publicity and set it apart from the dozens of other hard-core, S&M films in which guys pee on each other and pull on each other’s piercings. Is doing so stupid and irresponsible? Probably, but if it offends you – don’t buy it. Porn films aren’t made for the heck of it. They’re a product. If no one buys the product it disappears. See how that works?

    There, that’s the long and the short of it (no pun intended)! Now you can concern yourselves with things that actually matter like legislation that seeks to make us and our sexual practices illegal in this “land of the free” of ours.

    The Religious Right isn’t going anywhere, people. They’ve just released a “study” saying that we die younger than straights and from that “study” they’ve concluded (and are propagating the myth) that homosexuality is more dangerous than smoking cigarettes.

    Wake up!

    Sheesh!

    Reply

  20. Salami Joe April 12th, 2007 at 1:40 PM

    Fedup, you’ve just agreed to exactly what I’ve been saying from the beginning. It is simply the title I find offensive, not the material, so Mike, yes. If the movie had been called something else, I would not have cared in the least. I will not buy, rent or stream GAYTANAMO, the inevitable GAYTANAMO II nor the probable future DAM release KATRINA KOCKS.

    And while I agree with both of you that there are much more important things that need to be done in this country, that doesn’t mean that I or anyone else participating in this discussion aren’t doing them. Nor does it mean that we can’t or shouldn’t speak up when we see something we find offensive just because we’re already concerned with some other cause. Certainly we can have views on more than one topic and are capable of sparing the time and energy on more than one “crusade”.

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  21. Anonymous April 12th, 2007 at 10:33 PM

    Salami Joe,

    It’s an issue of perspective and priorities.

    Reply

  22. Mike April 13th, 2007 at 11:35 AM

    Salami Joe, you won’t buy, rent, or stream but will probably bittorrent it instead? I’m kidding. I just think we as a people need to get over knee-jerk pc responses — We’ve reached a point where we need to second guess everything we say for fear that someone somewhere will be offended. Ok. I’m out.

    Reply

  23. Ronauldo April 13th, 2007 at 8:56 PM

    Ah,,,I see we have a bunch of MEN or QUEENS which ever category you fall into, with too much time on there hands to write such extensive blogs on here..chanel that energy into making the gay community a better place and not glorifying these movies and so -called STARS…I now see why we get the reputation we have..take porn for what it is..to GET OFF …if your in that business i’m sure your SOUL is LOST!!

    Reply

  24. riddlemethis April 16th, 2007 at 12:08 AM

    Mike,

    Wake up – it’s PORN. I doubt anyone is second guessing themselves before buying for fear of “offending anyone.”

    I think it’s vital to figure out when the market is playing on people’s indignation in order to simply garner attention for an inferior product. I think this is just such a case.

    Oh and there’s nothing wrong with PC. That anti-PC / I hate hippies bullshit is just something that’s been fed to the idiot public over the years because the more intellectually docile the public is the better consumers they make. The perfect consumer lacks intelligence, character and self-respect.

    What’s so wrong with PC? What is wrong with calling someone by the name THEY choose? What’s wrong with not making women, homosexuals, et al. feel marginalized? Nothing, right? Yeah, well that is PC at work. Anything (including PC) is a problem when taken to excess but that’s a point to be reached not the point from which PC starts.

    So, I’d argue that you should not take such a knee-jerk reaction to Political Correctness in order to perceive yourself as a maverick or a free thinker. It’s a charade.

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  25. JAMES. April 17th, 2007 at 2:50 PM

    Its a porn. Its there for getting off.

    Also, no one seemed to care when we all laughed, loved and bought “Saving Ryan’s Privates.” With the premise of being D-Day attack where the total allied casualties on D-Day are estimated at 10,000, including 2500 dead.

    Not to mention all the porns based on corrupting students, spying, raping, etc. It’s fantasy.

    I love Owen and the company. It’s a damn good porn.

    Reply

  26. valentino April 19th, 2007 at 1:05 PM

    hey i love bdsm kink hot huks

    Reply

  27. faisy May 7th, 2007 at 8:18 AM

    i want to see all fucking clips

    Reply

  28. mediapusher July 6th, 2007 at 11:36 AM

    Oh puhleeeeez people get over yourselves. is there any surprise that a porn movie is made on this theme? What about all the porn movies made on any prison or suffering theme. Look at all the porn that contains rape fantasy, bondage, flogging, spanking, abuse of some sort or another.

    And it seems that bad taste in the U.S.A. is en-vogue these days and getting stronger.

    This is one hot porn flick, there is no denying that. And it should be left at that. Everyone else needs to shut their trap. I’d much rather watch this than Paris Hilton’s fake reality “The Simple LIfe” or her awful porn flick.

    Reply

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