College students across the U.S. have been watching porn. More specifically, they have been watching hard-core porn in campus lecture halls, assembly rooms and theaters…with universities’ approval.
Free on-campus screenings of the pornographic film Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge, the most expensive hard-core porn film ever made, have been taking place at various colleges and universities across the nation. The distributor of the film, Digital Playground, recently began offering screenings to student unions, and universities have been showing the movie for “entertainment and educational purposes.”
"It's no surprise that Digital Playground is organizing these screenings on university campuses,” says Michael Leahy, author of the newly-released Porn University: What College Students Are Really Saying About Sex on Campus. “It’s the latest effort by the U.S. porn industry to get broader, mainstream acceptance of their newest ‘product.’”
Many universities, such as Northwestern University and Carnegie Mellon, have shown the film without much controversy or retaliation. The University of Maryland, on the other hand, has become the center of a political debate over government interference with freedom of speech rights on college campuses (see related story in The Washington Post).
“The porn industry is trying a new approach by taking their same old, tired product and packaging it in a shiny new wrapper that mimics certain aspects of a big budget Hollywood movie,” continues Leahy. “It's their latest effort at mainstreaming hard-core porn, this at a time when they feel like public scrutiny and objection to pornographic content is at an all-time low.”
Digital Playground says the film, released last fall, cost $10 million to produce. Considering the 2006 revenues of the U.S. porn industry were $13.3 billion (larger than the revenues of the NFL, NBA and MLB combined), $10 million is a small price to pay for this “blockbuster adult movie.” The two-and-a-half hour flick has fight sequences and over 600 special effects. But Leahy warns not to be fooled.
“It’s still hard-core porn. Objectifying, sexualizing, and wholly degrading to both women and men. Yet some passive university administrators and faculty still want to see it as an acceptable part of the educational process. Mind-boggling! Is anyone telling these kids that once they graduate, viewing material like this during their lunch break on their work computer would get them fired on the spot for opening their employer up to multi-million dollar litigation risks? I fail to see how endorsing students’ viewing of porn on campus is somehow preparing them to enter the workforce.”
Michael’s new book also focuses on the minds of college students although in a different way. Porn University revolves around the results of an online sex survey taken by more than 26,000 college and university students over the past three years. Leahy analyzes the findings and offers eye-opening insights into the sexual behaviors, beliefs and attitudes of today’s college student.
"The findings discussed in my book show pretty clearly why the porn industry loves catering to a younger college audience, especially since most university administrations don't have the backbone to resist popular pro-porn sentiment that exists on most university campuses in the U.S.,” Leahy says. “This is yet another reason why we need to start thinking seriously about putting a new kind of 'warning label' on the industry and their products. The negative impact viewing porn can have on how we view ourselves and act toward others in relationships is undeniable."
Michael Leahy is the author of Porn Nation: Conquering America’s #1 Addiction and Porn University and Porn @ Work: Exposing the Office’s #1 Addiction .