Whoreappeal. From Sasha Grey to Riley Reid.

By VVoytila | Comments on Culture | 26 Jul 2023

I was acquainted with the phenomenon of celebrity porn stars in junior high school. The boys had to prepare a tacky wall decoration for woman's day or some other fake celebration that schools have taken upon themselves to promote in lieu of the good old drill of learning poems and multiplication by heart. I guess without corporal punishment, the school, a place of discipline as well as learning, had to invent cerebral punishment, to prevent men-to-be from roaming too freely on the fields of intellect. But I digress. We were made to print out photos of "our favourite woman" and some hastily edited Wikipedia spiel about the institution of woman's day and were sufficiently cynical at this comparatively late stage of our education not to print out pictures of our mothers. I say we, because although only very few of us printed something at all, we all recognised the faces and shared in the joke, to which our teachers were seemingly oblivious. For on the walls were a few female porn stars, among which I only recognised Sasha Grey. But I did recognise her, and that was enough. Enough to be in on the joke then and enough to reflect upon today.

How is it that a woman without any remarkable features climbs to the top of an industry that burns through young recruits in the thousands every month? What did Sasha Grey have to offer the viewer that thousands of women of exactly the same proportions as well as those taller, fatter, thinner, smaller and blonder lack? That very question was discussed from time to time, lazily, in locker rooms, on break, on bus stops and wherever a group of adolescents had nothing better to do. I remember the conversations either trailing off into disbelief that a woman with a flat ass can be popular or into disgust at the lengths to which the said actress would push herself, or rather, the extent of the punishment which she was ready to take on camera. This last feature could be inferred as the reason for her popularity, but that is not a satisfactory answer. There are, I am certain (albeit not through direct experience), women who will suffer way worse and allow for its distribution. The trouble with Sasha Grey I believe, is that she did not exactly suffer, but mastered imparting the impression of pleasure and willing participation. More on this later.

The next big celebrity pornstar, by which I mean a pornstar that reaches almost universal recognition, even among those not partial to pornography, was Mia Khalifa, who, like Sasha before her, appeared in memes and so on. We might again ask ourselves the same question. How come this dorky-looking middle-easterner, why her and not anyone else? There are multiple, equally voluptuous women, white, black, brown and yellow, willing to sign their name on the dotted line and become whores turning up at porn auditions every month, probably every week. Still with no answer, let us look at the most recent whore to attain a place in popular culture, Riley Reid. Again, a woman whom one might walk past in the supermarket without as much as acknowledging her as pretty. Perhaps something can be gleaned from the faces of the women in question. Their fairly normal faces are found above, here are a few more memetic ones:

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(peak comedy right here BTW)

What, if anything can be said about them all? Apart from their average looks, they all sport exaggerated facial expressions. The public image of these porn stars is dominated by those photos where they sport unusual grimaces and broad smiles. Now, you might say that this is a non-discovery, that all popular people smile and that all memes must contain or represent some degree of the grotesque. But once again I ask, why those and not others? Out of the thousands, tens of thousands of porn stars, somehow those became prominent, first in porn, than in mainstream culture. Now, a strong current in the memes about those pornstars relates to their universal recognisability, a trope which my friends at school also played, but what made those pornstars recognisable in the first place? I would argue the same force that made them into memes made them into icons of perverse sexuality, perhaps consequently, perhaps simultaneously. All those women are able to illustrate emotions and trick the viewer into thinking that they sincerely live them. They might act, aided by their large mimic range, but this is not merely acting. An actor might act a role brilliantly, especially in theatre, and yet we will not believe that the actor is the character, experiencing all the character's emotions. The representation is believable and we choose to believe it, even applaud it, but with those whores there is something else at play, - they become one with their characters, they have whoreappeal. Perhaps proof of this can be found in how as a pornstar becomes famous the crude description of her body disappears from titles of the films she stars in. Instead of 'chubby arab girl' or 'petite brunette' we get surnames, Sasha does this, Mia does that, Riley takes... you get the picture. 

This is helped by the fact that in pornography the women only play one role, that of the female, and though the role undergoes many interpretations, fundamentally the goal is always the same - to become the object of the viewer's desire. By extension the most popular pornstars should reveal to us what viewer's really want, sexually, from women. Considering the notoriously extreme nature of the pornography in which the mentioned actresses played the female part we might be tempted to draw pessimist conclusions. However I have a, perhaps surprising, ray of light to offer. Men do not seem to prefer women that will suffer for their pleasure, but rather women that will willingly participate and happily submit to all sorts of sexual practices. How do we know? The mentioned pornstars share the characteristic of very effectively communicating a range of emotions, but usually lust, joy and pleasure. They are noted for their enthusiasm in participating in various demanding acts, an enthusiasm which comes across as not merely perceived, but genuine. I have no idea whether the actresses in question enjoyed filming porn, but one can hardly deny that they all rose to prominence by means of their 'attitude', their enthusiasm for sex, communicated through their facial expressions - their whoreappeal. They became immensely popular not on account of their looks, not their acting, but what the viewer has every reason to believe are their 'genuine' actions.

So, to the point. Pornography reveals what its viewers, let's face it, mostly men, really want. Ideally they want more than a warm body. They want a female that responds to them, that is enthusiastic about the prospect of sex with them and actively participates in it. They do not want to simply see a sexual act, they want to be convinced that that sexual act is 'genuine' (which is, of course, by definition not possible in scripted porn), where 'genuine' does not mean documentaly, but emotionally genuine. Furthermore, men like promiscuity. This might be a pessimistic conclusion, but it becomes reassuring when contrasted to that which men are usually accused of, namely rape. A whore is the opposite of a woman which one might rape, since a whore (as opposed to a prostitute) would never turn down the offer of sex, however proffered. The most popular pornstars are not famed for roles as mislead, manipulated, blackmailed, trapped or exploited maidens, but on the contrary, sluts only waiting to participate in sex as enthusiastically as their partner. Men overwhelmingly prefer whores over rape, or, in milder terms, an enthusiastic and always willing partner over a withdrawn and frigid one.

The underlying blackpill of all this is of course the fact that pornography may clearly reveal to us the sexual instincts of men, but it will never satisfy them.


What even is this

I am proud to have no idea what this is about exactly     


OK I confess this one almost raised an eyebrow

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