Anthony's Film Review - 'Hot Girls Wanted' (2015)
A Candid Look at Both the Alluring Side and the Dark Side of the Porn Industry, and the Young Women at the Center of It...
The porn industry has exploded. In the late 20th century, sexually explicit material for pleasurable consumption mostly came in the form of adult-only magazines and movies. Then came the Internet, where porn providers set up websites and make it so much easier for people to access porn. But that's not all. Another porno revolution has occurred on the Internet. Thanks to adult-oriented YouTube-like video sites designed specifically for porn, a lot of porn can be found for free. And with social media sites like Twitter and Instagram, any ordinary person could post a sexy selfie and instantly become a sensation, maybe enough to build an audience that will follow if that person decides to go into porn. Entering the porn business doesn't seem to be too hard nowadays, because the adult film industry is no longer limited to highly-paid professional performers. The amateur porn industry that recruits ordinary yet sexy people is on the rise, too.
Hot Girls Wanted is a 2015 documentary that covers this latest porn era. Produced for Netflix by Rashida Jones, known for movies such as The Social Network and I Love You, Man,Hot Girls Wanted follows several young amateur porn actresses. These ladies have plenty of things in common: regular personal lives and occupations, Twitter accounts showcasing their sexy side, ages ranging from 18 to around 21, being new to the porn business, stage names used for porn, and a desire to do porn for money and freedom (not to mention the excitement of sex itself). Given how so many people consume porn, the payout is lucrative. An amateur porn star can earn a few hundred dollars just for a sex scene. Of course, the porn producers also benefit financially, as illustrated by one young man who went from living poorly to living in a five-bedroom house thanks to his porn business.
A documentary about porn can serve two purposes: show the light side of porn or show its dark side. The first half of this film is dedicated to the former. As the girls do their first few film shoots, they are astonished by their earnings for just a few hours of work, because it's far more than working many hours per week for minimum wage. Another benefit of this line of work is the ability to travel, which may be part of the work or may be for leisure, all financed by the income from porn.
The film doesn't just depict the work environment of porn actresses. It also shows the personal lives of some of the ladies. In one notable scene, one of the actresses breaks the news to her mother about doing porn. The reaction is naturally one of shock and disappointment, plus a sense of concern that leads to questions about preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. In another scene, a young man is struggling with the fact that his girlfriend has sex on film for money. Even with such worries from loved ones, the alluring side of porn keeps the women on the job.
But not for long. It is mentioned early in the film that, unless a massive breakout success occurs, most amateur porn performers are in it for only a few months. As the film moves on, it becomes clear that while each job can yield a few hundred bucks, it may not feel like it's enough after all, especially when you consider expenses related to personal grooming and lingerie. There are porn shoots that pay more, but require specific acts on camera rather than the run-of-the-mill sex acts. And this is where the second half of the film about the dark side of porn comes in.
The turning point in this documentary occurs when one of the ladies prepares to shoot her scene with an older male performer. While the documentary doesn't show what exactly occurs in the porn scene being filmed, it does show what happens after: the lady's reaction of disgust and horror as she storms off to the bathroom and comments about how humiliating the scene was. Pretty soon, another actress gets paid to do an extreme form of porn: abuse porn, which combines verbal and physical abuse with a rough sex act. Clearly, the target audience consists of men who derive sexual pleasure from degrading a woman. The footage of the abuse porn is shown in quick glimpses, leaving out (thankfully) the climax that makes the woman on film uncomfortable and even physically sick. However, even with the most degrading part left out for this documentary, there is still a brief on-screen text description of how extreme it really gets. If you still wonder why some feminists take a stand against porn, particularly extreme forms of it, this part of the documentary should remove all doubt.
In another remarkable scene, one actress suddenly understands what it's like to be a victim of rape, because the feelings of disgust and being mistreated are similar when doing extreme porn. This comes as a Duke University student proudly admits to doing porn to pay for her tuition, which draws a reaction of disagreement because it doesn't sound like the student is being honest with the media about the seedy side of porn.
This is a film that I enjoyed watching, not just because of the subject matter but also because of what it reveals that I didn't know before. My only criticism is that it feels slow at times, which is to be expected when the documentary involves mostly footage, no voiceover narration, and only a few facts and statistics presented as on-screen text. But at least the second half shifted direction and prevented it from being one-sided for far too long.
With that, I'll give this movie a positive rating. It presents what some people may know already while opening their eyes to certain things they may not be aware of. And it's brave for the filmmaking crew to get together and produce this documentary. Porn has become much less of an underground business and more of something that the mainstream can accept or at least acknowledge without shame, so you might as well talk about where it stands now. As for the young women who agreed to have their stories shown here, I thank them for being honest about it and giving us an inside look into the business. More importantly, I wish them luck with their current and future careers, whether they are still doing porn or have decided to leave it behind. Hot Girls Wanted shows us that porn may be just a brief phase in life for some people, but it's an industry that is not disappearing anytime soon.
Anthony's Rating: 7/10