We received an email from our friend Latoya at Racialicious about the Japanese porn company Natural High's new Naked Continent series (NSFW) that left us speechless. Not because they've somehow managed to come up with new sex acts or something, but because the series is billed as "Charity Porn" (NSFW) — and not because the performers have sex with men that have resorted to Real Dolls.
No, the Natural High performers have sex with impoverished local Africans on film. The director gave about $11,000 to a Kenyan charity, distributed some corn and free T-shirts to the locals in the area and then — reportedly — gathered up a few local men to have sex on tape with their performers in scenes that totally don't rely on stereotypes at all, as you can see. For every DVD they sell, the company plans to give another $10 to the same charity. This is, even in Kenya, not a lot of money, especially given that it's distributed to a charity that likely has some overhead.
Lisa at Sociological images writes:
First, the news story doesn't discuss payment. I assume the men are paid. This raises serious questions. How much choice can these individuals really exercise if, in fact, they are as impoverished as the producer claims? This reminds me of those campaigns to sterilize women on welfare or drug-using women by offering them a sum of money and paying for their operation. Is this consent or coercion?
Actually, the original news story doesn't at all mention payment for the male performers, but makes quite a big deal about the $11,000 given to the charity from the get-go and the residuals they will received, which makes me think that they weren't paid. I mean, even the drunk young women in Joe Francis's videos have to sign consent forms and get a T-shirt or hat as "payment," but I'm guessing the men that participated in this did not — if one even believes that they were local men in the first place. If we don't like it when American pornographers exploit women in foreign countries , it's not going to make us feel any better when they're doing it to men of equally limited means.
The other question that occurs to me reading this is there's no indication what the female performers were expecting to encounter, or what rights they had to decline during this shoot. Given what one expects would be a significant language barrier between the performers, the distance from home for the women and lack of protection reportedly utilized by the performers, I would even be concerned for the women involved in the shoot if they decided they were no longer willing to participate — especially since the anonymous author at Sankaku Complex refers to them (NSFW) as "amateur Japanese [Adult Video] performers."
This is not even to get into the politics of interracial porn, or the stereotype — here and in Japan — of sexually voracious black men, or the vague overtones of colonialism and condescension, or the stereotypes of Africa on display in this (and the other) DVD cases. First and foremost, this is a clear case where consent is fuzzy, at best, and exploitation is most certainly at work. Racism and stereotypes seem like the least of the problems when you're talking about the intersection of coercion, poverty and the potential for disease by a variety of ill-informed and unpaid amateur performers exploited by those who ought to know better.