I recently corresponded with Mark Hay, writing for The Awl. Mark was looking into mainstream pushes by porn companies, specifically MindGeek, and how certain contemporary efforts are unique from the past.

The piece never seemed to have been published, however our correspondence was interesting. Here it is below, in full.

Mark Hay: How, if at all, do current mainstreaming pushes by MindGeek and other large producers and distributors differ from past marketing, engagement, and mainstreaming efforts in/from the adult industry? 

DrCT: Well, because Manwin (as it’s currently called – previously MindGeek, previously Mansef) owns/operates some of the most notorious piracy-based tube sites, including PornHub – which have, collectively, over the past ten-ish years managed to shift the lion’s share of internet porn-seeking traffic to them while leveling virtually every other player in the adult industry – I would imagine that they are now seeking legitimacy via mainstream and “educational” pushes.

Whereas other “classic” porn grabs for mainstream attention were more overt stunts – think things like the over-the-top offers to do porn from entities like Vivid Entertainment directed at sensationalized mainstream media personalities – the Manwin efforts seem to be more of a calculated long game to distract from the mafia-like tactics they used to get to the center stage in the first place. It’s a classic rebranding effort.

 

Mark Hay: Why do you think MindGeek and others are pursuing the tactics they are? 

DrCT: See above.

 

Mark Hay: Is it entirely about widening the acceptability of the product and thus their user base? To make themselves more appealing to a more diverse and possibly better paying type of advertiser, investor, partner? 

DrCT: Well, since I am not part of their organization (obviously), I can only speculate as to their motivations. I would like to think that, while consumers become more and more savvy about things like ethical porn production and consumption, they will become more savvy about the highly unethical nature of piracy-based tube sites. And if the general public and media had even the slightest grasp on the true nature of tube site business models, I’d like to think that at least an appreciable amount of people would alter their consumption patterns. So I would speculate that, as consumers become more savvy (which I can only hope is happening), these types of “positive” marketing efforts are a veiled attempt to shift focus from their unethical roots.

It’s worth noting that much of these efforts are ungrounded – meaning their educational efforts for instance are very much smoke and mirrors. These types of efforts tap into currently popular themes and vernacular, lending an air of progressive effort, without any real substance behind it. And to great success – these sites are media and consumer darlings. We all fall for it, over and over again. And members of the adult industry, most egregiously porn performers, bear the brunt of the negative impacts.

 

Mark Hay: Or is it some more possibly personal quest, given how many of the big emerging forces in porn are controlled by people with more diverse, non-adult holdings? (Like how LiveJasmin is controlled by a Hungarian media and tech magnate or MindGeek has wider digital tech and industry holdings.) Is it an attempt to mainstream the most controversial of their holdings? 

DrCT: This could be possible too. If Manwin can turn itself into, for instance, a Playboy-type brand – meaning very mainstream – well, the possibilities are endless for them. We may very well see their own version of reality television coming soon… just like Playboy did with the “The Girls Next Door.”

 

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