Zeitgeist

STIHIE: Porn Stars as a Public Service

While accessing a video about dinosaurs on the BBC Newsbeat, I came across another, which struck me as rather peculiar: Gemma Massey on Life as a Porn Star.

Silly me. There was I, expecting a grim tale of drugs, plastic surgery, and venereal disease, when I was treated, instead, to an upbeat feature about the joys of being an international porn star, in LA, complete with finger-snapping dance music, camera shutter sound effects, and dynamic editing.

It rather looks like a fashion feature or Hollywood report on a youth channel.

For two minutes we experience a 28-year-old female, disfigured by sun-beds, implants, peroxide, and Botox, talking about how she makes ridiculous amounts of money; has cars and houses and plastic surgery paid for at the click of a finger; and works subject to rigorous health and safety standards, much safer, really, than regular dating.

I would have expected this type of reporting from Channel 4, a slick multiculturalist organ that caters for middle class liberals and has a well-established track record of scabrous titillation in the guise of either youth entertainment or gritty or thought-provoking documentary.

This is the BBC.

It may be difficult for those overseas, unfamiliar with this once great British institution, to appreciate exactly how far the goalposts have moved, vis-à-vis present interpretations of providing a public service, so it is worth reminding ourselves of what the BBC used to look and sound like:

Bear in mind that the likes of certain well-known military historian would still consider that a degenerate version of the BBC as defined by Lord Reith, the corporation’s controller from the latter’s inception in 1927 until 1936.

Indeed, the BBC was set up by the British government as a public service (funded by tax-payers) and Lord Reith’s mission was to educate the audience through serious programming. He—and I have spoken to at least one person who remembers this—insisted that radio announcers wore dinner jackets while on air. Addressing the Empire was a considerable responsibility, and one had to rise to the occasion.

One now thinks of Lord Reith in his grave, and can only wonder at how many revolutions per second he spins.

The inequivocal message sponsored by the BBC in 2011 is that for a girl to have herself filmed naked, with genitals in full view and copulating with strangers for money, is a rather brilliant career choice: after all, even Massey’s parents decided that it was quite alright after she told them how much money she was making for relatively easy work.