Angels and devils of porn

By JAMES PARKER  |  August 15, 2007

Here, perhaps, is the reason for the success of the Porn Debate: the kids want answers. The crowd was attentive and non-partisan: Jeremy was greeted like an old friend — an old friend whom you have watched having sex — but his opponent was respectfully heard, and not booed or pilloried, even when he mentioned “God’s plan.”

Most interesting, as the debate progressed, was the manner in which the porn star ceded not the moral high ground but the low ground of reality to the pastor. Gross talked about the destruction of women; Jeremy soothed it away. “For every girl who’s having a problem,” he said, “I can show you a hundred thousand who’ve done quite well.” Gross read aloud from the back of a DVD: “Here at Pure Filth Productions, we believe in giving you the most hard-core rectum-wrecking anal scene possible. See these whores get pounded by enormous cocks until you’re wondering if they’re going to need adult diapers for the rest of their lives.” Jeremy winced and murmured that “niche marketing” comprises only a fraction of the adult industry.

Gross talked about addicts, casualties, brokenness. Jeremy, oily as a budget restaurateur, wove images of “happy recreational users” to whom porn (along with lingerie, exotic dancing, and travel to Hawaii or Mexico) is merely “a little boost to their sex lives.” In an elegant reversal, it was the veteran of hard-core who was being soft-core, squeamish, and airbrushed, and the goofy unworldly Christian who was insisting on a full close-up. “It’s a scam,” concluded Gross. “I’ve seen these girls at the conventions, how they turn it on for the cameras, how they allow themselves to get mauled. It’s a scam. You’re being scammed.”

Did anybody “win” the “Porn Debate”? Nah. There was no rhetorical smackdown, no decisive manipulation of the mob. Both men got a warm hand at the end of the night, and most audience members, I imagine, left with their views, pro or con, intact. But here too, Pastor Gross has the advantage — because if only one pornhound is moved to reconsider his allegiances, to pause for a second before following his glands headlong into what Shakespeare called “the expense of spirit in a waste of shame,” then God’s work is done, in full.

What the Lord was up to a couple of  hours later is less clear. As the “Porn Debate” Bus headed down the Mass Pike toward New York, a drunk driver in a black SUV swerved into its path. Brakes were applied, an emergency stop was made, the bus’s passengers were piled onto another, gangbang-style, and the unfortunate moderator broke his ankle. (His was the only injury.) Footage of the incident’s aftermath is available on Craig Gross’s blog at XXXChurch.com. Dramatic stuff: squad-car lights flash, the errant driver is filmed doing his sobriety walk, and Ron Jeremy is seen wandering in the breakdown lane, looking slightly oppressed as howls of porno joy cartwheel backward in the tailwind of passing cars: “YAY! RONN-Y! FUCK YEAH!”

Someone should tell Gross to give up. Porn is America.

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