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Everyone has two reasons for doing what he does; the real reason and the good reason. This film is dishonest because it presents only the good reasons, delivered up by the porn stars themselves. As a result, the documentary is not particularly penetrating. There is some reason that Shauna Grant, for example, killed herself. Many dozens of other porn stars, male and female, have done the same.
There is some value in seeing the women talking about themselves, but the prevarication is obvious and transparent -- a wee bit of the happy hooker fantasy.
I thought the agent who was interviewed was shallow in her judgment of the path these women have chosen. She seemed unable to grasp the fact that being filmed naked does not destroy a person. She is in the wrong business.
I understood that most of these women want to move on and that this is a difficult business for many. The fact that some adult production companies are now owned and operated by women means that there is less opportunity for men to exploit and abuse these sex workers. The next step is to legalize prostitution and have strong labor unions for all sex workers so it is easier to move on. But that would require a sane, reasonable and caring society. I don't see much of that in the USA today.
The film failed to achieve what it set out to do. The persona of the porn star doesn't change when they are in a studio with a camera on them. The film was superficial. I think if she had interviewed old time porn stars and asked them how they started and where they are today, that would have been more interesting. Then showing the new stars those interviews and get a real response without their make up an glitter.
This might be shocking or interesting to people who don't watch porn.
Right off the bat, many will find the reason Aroused gets a rating that doesn't warrant a recommendation in that former paragraph. The reason is there is a wealth of material that is either muffled or obscured by Anderson in an effort to include multiple different perspectives in a runtime that cannot possibly accommodate everyone. At seventy minutes long, Anderson has to give each of the sixteen actresses their brief minutes on camera, resulting in a documentary that has little cohesive structure and doesn't have enough time to develop its subjects accordingly. In order for a complete, more versatile documentary to be made, either another thirty-five minutes needed to be added to the runtime or about eight porn stars needed to be cut out.
Yet, Aroused isn't a total loss. For one, the last half of the film provides some very interpersonal communication between Anderson and the actresses, as well as for some elegant photography and camera angles, showing various extreme close-ups of the body parts often forgotten in porn (lips, shoulders, legs, and occasionally panning up to the breasts). Furthermore, intriguing conversation is always started by Deborah, who talks to famous women like Francesca Le, Lisa Ann, Belladonna, and Alexis Texas about growing up, with many of them talking about their heavily religious background, some of them still carrying it as motivation as they work in the adult industry. The woman discuss the roles their parents and siblings played in their life, and give insight as to what life was like for them prior to their career in the adult industry.
Porn star Teagan Presley arguably brings up the best point during this section of the film, stating that it all depends on who you have to disappoint when it comes to growing up. If you have both mom and dad in your life, you grow up with discipline from both parties and learning what you have to do to make both of them happy and what could potentially jeopardize one of those relationships. If you grow up with just mom, you lack that ability to disappoint your father, who brings you that male influence and perspective, and the same goes in the opposite situation. It all depends on who is readily in your life to disappoint, and that formulates what decisions you make.
On top of interesting discussion pieces, Anderson finds an interesting balance in showing the veterans of the industry (Ann, Le, Tanya Tate, Katsuni, and other women in their late thirties or early forties) with the younger generation of industry stars, like Ash Hollywood, Brooklyn Lee, and April O'Neil. Lisa Ann, one of the staples for the MILF genre of pornography, talks about how when she first started out, she was opposed to doing anything on camera that she hadn't done in her own personal sex life. She didn't want to have her first gangbang or double penetration scene be on film because of the potential for corrupting memories, not to mention the inherently "mechanical" feel of shooting your average porn scene.
Finally, before we go into the last act of the film, which is comprised of personal conversation on top of artful photography, we get words of wisdom from another industry veteran. Fran Amidor. Amidor talks about how she hears many young girls, eighteen and nineteen-year-olds, striving to get in the business, for understandable reasons since the pay is higher being that the girls are young, their bodies are tight, and they are the perfect object of fantasy, but states that education is important and ages eighteen to twenty-one need be about learning and discovering in the classroom rather than in the porn industry. It's strong, sound advice from someone who could potentially be regretful about her own career.
Aroused doesn't have extreme depth, given its subject matter and its plethora of subjects, but Anderson creates an efficient starting point for conversation. She asks the right questions, creates the proper focus, and shoots the documentary in a very artful manner, with the first half being largely black and white before slowly evolving into color for the photo-shoot finale. There is just too much to talk about and too many subjects to efficiently portray in a little over an hour, leaving most of the information too slight to remember or too stunted to even get going.
Directed by: Deborah Anderson.
I really enjoyed this piece. I liked how Anderson shot the first half the movie in B&W, and then the second half in color- and how everything just sorta lights up and illuminates the back-stories of the stars. As with most docs about the porno industry, not everything is all roses, and the film does go into quite a lot of heartache and disappointment, which is to be expected. But this film did stand out as one of the best docs. about that business that makes more money than all the other entertainment venues put together. Thumbs up!
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The actresses start sounding conflicted and upset as they go deeper in the questioning. They basically all qualify any positive thing they say about porn with a contradiction. They're all dealing with one harsh reality or another. Posing in front of the camera they seem really out of their element when they're not expected to sell themselves, but it's fascinating.
If you interpret what they actresses are really saying, it's sad; doubly sad that so many blindly love porn. For once the actresses are all really human though.