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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reflections on Watching Amateur Pornography for Eight Straight Hours

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 10:44 AM

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I hear Saturday was really beautiful and sunny. That's great. Glad you a good time. Meanwhile, I was locked in a conference room for eight hours watching 52 amateur porn videos. And I will never again look at humans the same way.

The giant stack of five minute films were all submissions to HUMP, the Mercury and Stranger porn festival that's now in its seventh year. I spent all of Saturday with five other staffers up at the Stranger officers, whittling the 52 films into a select 20 or so that will be screened for audiences in Seattle and Portland.

Just to be clear, most of the films I've seen far are not very... sexy. Not the way mainstream porn is. Most of them are hilarious, or at least try to be funny. Many are charmingly lo-fi. Every single one is brave. Though I have now witnessed many acts between humans that even the immediate application of three gin and tonics failed to delete from my memory bank, I am thrilled that so many different people have such healthy relationships with their sexual desires that they can act them out in flagrante.

Here is what I learned, watching all of you get your HUMP on.

1. The definition of sex is broad and wild. Thanks to growing up with Google, I consider myself pretty aware of the different types of sexy business. There's gay sex, straight sex, BDSM sex, furry sex, and OH MY GOD. OH. MY. GOD. WHERE IS THAT FUNNEL GOING? It's a cliche, but stick any two words together and you'll come up with something that gets someone off, somewhere in the world. Clown rape? Check. Latino Urkel? Check. Dull knives? I admit that I closed my eyes during that one, but check.

2. We apparently have sexual groupthink. 2011 is the year of the zeitgeist. There were two films involving cumming on donuts. Two films that included being fucked by video game equipment. Two James Bond parodies (both of which involved sex on boats). I have no way to explain any of this.

3. There are so many ways to ruin porn. By hour six or so, the judges had degenerated somewhat into shouting advice to the porn characters. For future HUMP submitters, be aware that the number one way to ruin porn is to include no nudity. If you make a film featuring a cast of fabulous looking people, none of whom take off an article of clothing or get it on on-screen, that's not a porn. That's just hot people talking. Other ways to ruin porn include confusing jokes and wasted potential (if you introduce a dildo, please use it).

4. Everyone is dirty. After the screening (but before the gin and tonics), I wandered around a bookstore and became distracted by all the totally normal-looking, very polite people. Looking at them, quietly reading the back covers of books, all I could think was, "You do some crazy stuff behind closed doors." The vast majority of the people in the HUMPs look, well "normal." Kinksters, swingers, queer folk, people in open relationships, and people that like to screw while playing Grand Theft Auto don't wear their sexual desires on their sleeves. They (usually) don't go around talking about it all the time. It's easy to fall into thinking that everyone except for you desires only straight, squeaky-clean sex, because that's all we ever see in movies and, also, it's not polite potluck conversation. But, damn, y'all, it's not true! A camera and a $4,000 prize is all you need to prove that whitebread types enjoy getting it on in all sorts of highly modern ways.

There were some tough choices (I believe this involved me yelling, "BUT THAT'S EMPOWERING!!" at one point) but the final lineup is great! It's really funny, has some sexy moments, and has some weird shit for everyone. Buy your tickets RIGHT NOW.

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