Dear Porn Industry, Must Interracial Porn Always Be So . . . Racist?

by Special Correspondent Wendi Muse

*Warning – Links and Content NSFW*

For those of you who watch mainstream porn out there, I have an assignment for you.

Pull up any film or video clip in which the characters who are busy bumpin’ uglies are of different races and/or ethnicities. Now see if you can get through the full film or clip satisfying the following requirements:

1. The color, size, or shape of the characters’ body parts, particularly genitals, as they relate to his or her race or ethnicity is not mentioned

2. No racist epithets are uttered.

3. The race or ethnicity of the characters (including the white characters) is not mentioned.

4. The background music, setting, and general environment of the scene does not conform to a stereotype related to one or more of the characters’ racial or ethnic identity.

Did you pass?

After having written a previous piece on interracial porn for Racialicious, I ventured into the glow of the internet’s red light district one more time, just long enough to come up with my own version of the Bechdel Test. The Bechdel Test is a list of film requirements as designated in the lesbian comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. According to one of the characters, a film is not worthy of her time if it does not meet the following requirements:

1. It has to have at least two women in it,
2. Who talk to each other,
3. About something besides a man.

Sadly, most ladyflicks (Confessions of a Shopaholic), ladyshows (Sex and the City), ladybooks (The Rules), and even ladycommercials seem to be unable to meet this requirement. Almost everything that is geared to women in pop culture and advertising reduce them to man-obsessed, self-absorbed entities who do little more than shop, eat (or obsess about food) and pine away for some jerk of a man who doesn’t want anything to do with them, only to be reminded that he’sjustnotthatintothem in the first place.

Considering this test is generally quite successful in determining if a film has any substance, even if you are not a lesbian, I thought I’d come up with a porn equivalent. I previously expressed the need for there to be porn that involved people of different races and/or ethnicities but that did not focus solely on the actors’ races as a pivotal point:

Porn, though trivial in the eyes of some, makes us analyze our own perspective on others who are different from ourselves. Could there ever be a day upon which seeing a couple of different ethnic, racial, or national backgrounds in a sexual context does not evoke specific images from our damaged history?

Could one ever view interracial sex objectively, and even then, without thinking about the interracial element at all, and instead, simply seeing it for what it is: two (or more) people having sex? If one can derive pleasure from watching two people who appear to be of the same racial, ethnic, or national background in heterosexual porn without any additional bells and whistles (albeit through a highly sexist lens), why can’t the same be said of interracial sex? Why must it always be packaged as a spectacle or a pornographic sideshow, an abnormal act that requires additional dialogue and themes to remind us that this is something different and borderline perverse?

When I am in a relationship with someone who is of a different racial or ethnic background from myself, I don’t spend my time preoccupied with our differences, so porn that does is, well, a huge turn off. Mr. BlackSexxx, author of the blog Black Sexxxology,  shares my sentiments:

I need Porn Producers to step up and make Porn for more than just the white dudes with fetishes. You have women who want to join you under this umbrella of Porn Watcher and don’t want to feel put out by an industry that calls them Black Bitches, Black Hoes or Black Cum Drippers.

He goes on to lament the difficulties in even finding people of color in porn without it being a caricature of sorts. Can we ever get past the stereotypes to just see good sex? But as Mr. BlackSexxx goes onto to point out in his pieces “Porn Musings” and “Interracial Porn: Are We Still Discussing This in 2009?” the focus of porn, like any other industry, comes down to supply and demand. And unfortunately, for both women and people of color (groups that are not mutually exclusive), there is little concern for their needs. The target audience has, and probably always will be, white males. And while the industry has experienced considerable growth in the gay and lesbian market, even these films relate to white males, be they gay, straight, bisexual, or questioning, because they, too, involve racist stereotypes and are not free of the same garbage seen in the mainstream heterosexual set. The porn itself, at least in the mainstream realm, tends to be created to appeal to one demographic and that demographic only, even if people of color are enlisted for starring roles.

Speaking of lesbians, I’ve noticed a growing trend in the totally fake lesbian porn geared toward heterosexual men: racism! There is a new set of lesbian gangbang films that involve black “ghetto” women (their words, not mine) taking advantage of some innocent white woman they are hard-pressed to “turn out.” So in one swoop, we have racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. And I thought at one point that lesbian porn was maybe the last bastion of hope in the mainstream porn world (at least in terms of race). I suppose I thought too soon.

Anyway, I digress…back to my interracial porn Bechdel test. This test is rather difficult to meet if you are discussing mainstream porn. And trust me, I tried. Yet the inability for the porn industry to meet these simple requirements seems to be taking its toll on the actors as well. As Mr. BlackSexx in his piece “Porn Retirements – Just One Man’s Opinion,” many black porn stars may be leaving the business early because they were never in it for the long haul but only for quick material gain. Yet others may have simply gotten tired of being typecast:

I think this has to do with a number of factors but most importantly it has to do with the fact that producers allow black men and women to follow into that overly sexual stereotype that they want nothing more than to have sex with the women of white men. Or the fact that black women are merely looked at as unconscious sexual beings created to serve white men.

For those who don’t quite fit into this aspect of the interracial porn genre, getting work may doubly hard as well, even if being “different” means a simply stray from a stereotypical “look” as dictated by porn views, producers, and greater dominant culture:

Wrong as it is I believe this has happened because this business is controlled in most part by white men. White men will put on screen what they and their contemporaries feel comfortable with. . . I once read that Obsession [author’s note: NSFW] not get work outside of Urban Pornography because of the number of tattoo’s and piercings she has … but somehow Belladonna still gets works even though she his fully Tatted and seeming presented as sexy?

But that’s yet another problem with interracial porn. Not only is it limiting for its actors, it’s limited and one dimensional as a porn genre. When people think of interracial porn or even if one googles it, the results are mainly black/white pairings, and even then, mostly black men/white female pairings. The term “interracial” seems to be reserved solely for sexual pairings that have a direct connection to American history’s open preoccupation with sexual race relations. Black men = threat, white women = sexual innocence. Why is there so little diversity in the interracial pairings themselves?

This question ends up leading right back into the cyclical supply vs. demand issue that relates to what Mr. BlackSexxx previously mentioned. If the target audience and creators are of the same demographic and ultimately share the same racist and limited perceptions of people of color, there is only one option. But for those viewers who want something different in the interracial sex on film realm, there is a lot of room for variety, but still more progress to be made.

Hat tip to The Hathor Legacy for this topic suggestion!