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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hard Core

posted by on October 7 at 15:42 PM

A few years ago, Eli Sanders wrote for us about Max Hardcore’s legal troubles with the Bush administration. Here’s the beginning of his feature, which I’ll never ever be able to forget:

Here is how Max Hardcore makes his living: He rams his cock into women’s mouths until they vomit, and then he sells videos of the encounters. He sells other videos, too, videos that feature his signature contribution to the world of hardcore pornography: a flexible rubber tube that allows women to suck from their own asses the semen or urine he has just deposited there, often very roughly. Are you turned on yet? Hardcore has been accused (but not convicted) of raping a British porn star named Felicity. He also has been accused of misogyny, a charge that seems apt given that many of his videos feature him shouting degrading insults at the women (often dressed as schoolgirls, complete with pigtails and hairless vaginas) who appear in his films. He describes himself as “an American original” and a leader in the field of “sexual mistreatment,” and in addition to his novel use of rubber tubing, he claims both to have pioneered the practice of “anal gaping” and to be at the vanguard of “the misuse of medical speculums.”

Will the culture suffer in the slightest if this man is prosecuted for obscenity? We may soon find out.

You should read Eli’s feature; it’s a great primer on obscenity laws and porn. Also, it’s relevant now because last Friday, Max Hardcore was sentenced to nearly 4 years in prison. Reverse cowgirl does a fine job of summing up the case so far, and asks a very important question about people who are protecting Max Hardcore’s rights to make porn:

…if you’re going to talk about how far we’ve come when it comes to porn, if you’re going to posit Paul “Max Hardcore” Little as the latest victim of the Bush administration, if you’re going to lament one more strike against your First Amendment rights, you should bear witness as to what a porn star drenched in vomit looks like. Otherwise, you’re blind when it comes to the hardcore realities of making porn in the 21st century.

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Max Hardcore is the inspiration behind a similarly-cowboy hat-clad hardcore pron-producing character in the Grant Morrison comic 'The Filth.' The comic is better than the vomit.

Posted by jackie treehorn | October 7, 2008 3:53 PM

Unlike Wall Street, I was under the impression that the mainstream porn industry had done a decent job of self-regulating at behest of congress. In the age of the internet it's probably nearly impossible to silence someone, but producers and distributors should have gone further to get this guy shut down before congress took another look at their industry.

I hope no one comes to this guy's defense, he needs to be thrown to the lions. He is a piece of human waste.

Posted by Dougsf | October 7, 2008 3:55 PM

Protecting someone's rights has nothing to do with approving of or liking what they are doing. It has everything to do with protecting the ability of consenting adults to do as they please no matter how distasteful or shocking some may find it.

This is what so many people don't understand about the ACLU and why it is so important that they protect the rights of even hateful groups like the KKK. As soon as you make an exception because you personally don't like what another person/group does, you open the door for the exact same thing to happen to yourself.

Posted by Trouble | October 7, 2008 3:57 PM

@ 3: Word to that.

This type of case is the source of the "I don't agree with what you're saying but I'll defend your right to say it." His stuff is heinous by any measure, but it should be allowed. It's a slippery slope; Once they get Max Hardcore they'll go on to the next porno producer who's not quite as bad. And then the next. And then the next. And before you know it we're out of porn. That, friends, is not a world I'd love to live in.

"When they came for the misogynistic puke porn, I said nothing..."

Posted by Matt Fuckin' Hickey | October 7, 2008 4:03 PM

I may not like it, and it may not (does not) flip my switch, but I will absolutely, 100% go to bat for him on the obscenity charge.

Until it is proven otherwise, these are of age, consenting adults, who signed waivers, who are ACTING. This should be protected by the first amendment.

It doesn't matter if it is art or commerce. This is protected.

@#3 Trouble, you got it right. This is why I want to be a librarian - you can't ban things because you do not like them.

Posted by bibliogrrl | October 7, 2008 4:05 PM

All vaginas are hairless. Hair doesn't grow in the vagina. The word you're looking for is "vulva", or maybe "cooter".

Posted by Fnarf | October 7, 2008 4:06 PM

If Max Hardcore raped a woman he should do jail time. If people are simply grossed out or offended by his videos then you're full of shit.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 7, 2008 4:06 PM

I really, really don't like Max Hardcore, and admittedly won't lose much sleep over his jail time. The precedent, though, is disturbing. He's doing hard time for what someone has termed "obscenity"--not because he's a misogynist douchefuck. This hardy a feminist ruling.

Posted by el | October 7, 2008 4:13 PM

If you're not a fan of his material, how is it harming you? You're already not watching it. If you're not a fan and you do watch it, again, how are you harmed? How is society?

If you're accidentally exposed to it (which is highly unlikely), how do you suffer beyond being momentarily shocked and offended? I'm shocked and offended every day by something. That doesn't mean what shocks and offends me should be illegal.

If no "other" laws (other than "obscenity") were broken, then no laws were broken, period. It's a private enterprise with consenting adults. I avoid lots of those all the time that I don't like and my life goes on just fine.

Posted by whatevernevermind | October 7, 2008 4:14 PM

He's disgusting and puerile, but if people are dumb enough to appear in/purchase his videos and he's not forcing anyone to do either, then que sera sera.

And I don't care for Reverse Cowgirl's implication that 21st Centurey pornographers HAVE to be this disgusting in order to be edgy and current and profitable. It's a niche market; it's NOT mainstream.

Posted by michael strangeways | October 7, 2008 4:19 PM

What #3 said.

If all involved consented then I don't care who pukes on who or sucks what. It's easy enough not to watch something that I won't enjoy.

Posted by monkey | October 7, 2008 4:22 PM

The best way to think about cases like these is to table the First Amendment issue by asking: would there still be a problem (legally speaking) if there was no camera running to record the acts in question? If so, the perp deserves a stern book-throwin'; but if not, well, that's the price of living in a free society.

Posted by shub-negrorath | October 7, 2008 4:31 PM

Hear, hear to #3 & everyone down the line.

And Paul, in re. the emphasis you added to the phrase about what a porn star drenched in vomit looks like: just another consenting fuckin' adult, actually. Surely, we're not meant to think "victim."

Posted by Eric Arrr | October 7, 2008 4:32 PM

I have to disagree with some of you. People like this guy pose more of a threat to mainstream porn than the average Tipper Gore type. He's operating outside of a rather generous set of parameters, and forces their hand.

It's more than a case of "just because you don't like it". It's predatory, and in many of those videos it's possible a crime is being committed (in extreme circumstances, it can still be assault even if you signed on for a sex shoot.) It's the difference between America's Funniest Home Videos and Bum Fights.

Defending the right to free speech, obscene or not, is extremely important, but this guy isn't the way to make a case. Let him fry.

Posted by Dougsf | October 7, 2008 4:33 PM

please Doug, if there is a crime being committed it wouldnt fall under obscenity, it'd be assault.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 7, 2008 4:40 PM

Yes, word to #3.

Unfortunately, prosecutions like this are within the realm of the law. Although it has set standards that make them hard to prosecute under, the supreme court has allowed anti-obscenity laws to stand. We all need to work toward an eventual ruling that anti-obscenity laws are simply never constitutional, but we aren't there yet.

Posted by David Wright | October 7, 2008 4:42 PM

I'm surprised by what seem to be knee-jerk responses to this. If anything, I think Paul's post (contrasting Eli's piece with Reverse Cowgirl's) is really thought provoking--porn is not a black-and-white issue.

Really, isn't anyone the least bit curious about the conditions of the "actors" in these films? The vomit-covered girl in the photo is YOUNG. Take a look at her face and try to tell me that THAT is what makes America great.

I'm not arguing for some kind of reactionary charge of obscenity, but I'd like to see this guy investigated. I'd like to hear from those women he's filming. I wonder if they might reveal something that would change the way people feel about this, either way.

Posted by Irena | October 7, 2008 4:45 PM

Irena, by that standard (of video covers), Japan and Germany never progressed out of their bloodthirsty genocidal ways.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 7, 2008 4:49 PM

@14 / Dougsf,

I'm with you on the idea that it's possible for apparently consensual acts to actually be criminal assault, but I agree w/Bellevue Ave that any such case ought to be prosecuted as assault.

"Obscenity" should not be a catch-all charge for "we think some bad shit went down but can't make a case under the proper statute," which you seem to be advocating.

Posted by Eric Arrr | October 7, 2008 4:56 PM

What standard? I didn't make a judgement. I think more questions need to be asked before an informed judgement can be made.

Posted by Irena | October 7, 2008 5:01 PM

Who cares about vomit? What torques me is barebacking videos. It glorifies un-safe sex. They should pass a law making condom use/safer sex in porn mandatory.

Posted by yucca flower | October 7, 2008 5:05 PM

yucca, then you wind up with way more bukkake vids. do you want that?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 7, 2008 5:08 PM

@22: You do...

Posted by Mikki | October 7, 2008 5:12 PM

Greenwald did a nice piece on this ruling vs. George Bush's America -

Posted by Shawn Fassett | October 7, 2008 5:16 PM

didn't it used to be that you couldn't fuck someone on camera that was tied up? now you can. when did that change?

i hope he does 3.99 years & then his conviction is overturned.

Posted by max solomon | October 7, 2008 5:23 PM

oooh, I got pwned!

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 7, 2008 5:37 PM

#19 - you're right. "Obscenity" can be a slippery slope, and you're probably right in assuming they're trying to get him for SOMETHING, and that's the best they got. I'm not really advocating for anything, I'm just saying, personally, I don't care if this dirtbag gets his. There should be concern this conviction could set a bad precedent, however.

I think drugs should be legal and regulated as well, but oddly enough, I think the shitbag speed dealer on my block that slowly rides his mountain bike up and down the sidewalk is a despicable human being and would be overjoyed to see him go to prison. It's a plurality I don't lose any sleep over.

Posted by Dougsf | October 7, 2008 5:38 PM

The late great DFW wrote an excellent essay about porn: Big Red Son. Max Hardcore and "gonzo porn" is addressed brilliantly.

Posted by Hosono | October 7, 2008 5:41 PM

doug, why don't you run over him with your car? Problem solved

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 7, 2008 5:42 PM

Dougsf @ 27: There is a famous Martin Niemöller quote that people often cite when someone claims to believe in justice in principal, but doesn't care about an injustice in practice because it only affected a scumbag. You ought to look it up sometime.

Posted by David Wright | October 7, 2008 5:58 PM

Obscenity law is completely contrary to the First Amendment and is only around because some judges were too squeamish to accept nude pictures. And if you don't think the Bush administration wouldn't have gone after anyone and everyone if they had the change, what about the poor woman who was prosecuted for writing fictional stories?
If Hardcore had actually raped anyone, or if any of the actors in his videos were underage, or if any of them objected, he'd be prosecuted for rape and not this bullshit. They investigated the hell out of him

Posted by Law student | October 7, 2008 6:04 PM

Law Student is correct.

The First Amendment says zip zero nada about obscenity -- the original intent, as shown in the text, is Congress "shall make no law" etc. etc. There is no "except obscenity prosectuing that is okey dokey" in the constitution. The "exception" allowing anti obscenity laws was made up by activist judges -- conservative activist judges -- who rewrote the first amendment.

Why, you can no more legislate against obscenitiy in the face of the first amendment, than you can legislate against hanguns in the face of the second amendment....hey....wait a minute.....

Posted by PC | October 7, 2008 7:04 PM

If nobody who was involved in one of his videos ever filed a criminal complaint against him, this is absolute 100% bullshit, and should be vigorously and violently fought against, not just tut-tutted about. This is serious, serious shit people. You better think long and hard about what this opens up (and closes.)

Posted by Welcome To USA - World's #1 Police State! | October 7, 2008 7:59 PM

@31, 32: actually, seems like Law Student hasn't actually taken Constitutional Law yet. Of course obscenity isn't mentioned in the 1st amendment, in the same way that murder isn't mentioned in Article 3, because the Constitution and the Bill of Rights don't address every last issue of governance.
The 1st Amendment's protections of freedom of speech are not absolute, or else no one could be prosecuted for slander, libel, sedition, or certain hate crimes. The fact that they can be indicates that there are interests that are balanced against freedom of speech, and that some speech is held to be more important than others.
The point being, you can't just scream 'freedom of expression' and make everything else fall by the wayside. It's not an absolute right.

Posted by Ursula | October 7, 2008 9:05 PM

Max is a scumbag, but so are millions of our fellow Americans.

I doubt it's the vomit, urine, or anal gaping that really turns people on. Personally, I'm turned on more by the power play between him and the women he's with. It's absolute degradation, and as someone who is nice to a fault, respectful to a fault and uptight to a fault, Max Hardcore's movies are a release.

My bosses are women, my friends are women, I treat my mother, sister, grandmother and aunts with the utmost respect. I have never laid a hand on any woman or verbally abused anyone. Why can't I catch a break and enjoy 30 minutes of filthy, degrading porn?

I could never do what he does to my girlfriend or future wife (or probably any human for that matter), it is sick fantasy that is best enjoyed on tape.

What I do behind closed doors is my personal business. As long as the actors and actresses are consenting adults (no teens or animals please), I have no problem with this.

How is this any different from some of the arguments in favor of proposition 8?

How are you, joe six-pack, affected by my taste in porn?

There is something very dark about what he does, and for me, witnessing that is a bit of an escape from my otherwise sunny life.

Also, don't judge the dude for using shaved actresses in school girl outfits. Because guess what, you've just described 60% of the straight porn out there and lost any credibility. Next thing you'll tell me is that his girls dress as nurses and have fake breasts.

Posted by nolaseatac | October 7, 2008 10:55 PM

If you don't like it, don't watch it you simple minded fucks. He pays these women to do these things of their own free will. This has to be fought and fought to the end. Bush is a rat. A filthy rotten rat. Tell his torturing, snooping, bommbing, self righteous asshole to fuck off. Free Max!!!!

Posted by Vince | October 8, 2008 7:27 AM

No one ever said free speech and expression were pretty.

Posted by Nate | October 8, 2008 9:22 AM

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