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Pornhub’s ‘first non-porn movie’ is super woke – just what it needs, with all the bad optics

Micah Curtis
Micah Curtis

is a game and tech journalist from the US. Aside from writing for RT, he hosts the podcast Micah and The Hatman, and is an independent comic book writer. Follow Micah at @MindofMicahC

is a game and tech journalist from the US. Aside from writing for RT, he hosts the podcast Micah and The Hatman, and is an independent comic book writer. Follow Micah at @MindofMicahC

Pornhub’s ‘first non-porn movie’ is super woke – just what it needs, with all the bad optics
It’s been announced that pornography titan Pornhub will be hosting ‘Shakedown,’ a non-porn documentary about black lesbian strippers. This seems like a move that’s meant to distract from recent controversies.

Pornhub hasn’t exactly had the best time as of late, with all the controversies it’s been involved in. There’s the Girls Do Porn case where the bosses of the GDP brand face criminal charges. After that, a Motherboard piece showed that Pornhub’s measures to prevent offending content from getting reuploaded flat out don’t work. Then there’s the story of Rose Kalemba, who was raped and the video of it was uploaded to the site, and another story where an alleged underage lewd battery victim had videos of what was done to her uploaded to Pornhub and other platforms. The following petition from Laila Mickelwait to take the site down ended up getting over three hundred thousand signatures.

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It goes without saying that Pornhub could use a public relations win.

Yesterday, Variety reported that the porn monolith would be releasing its very first non-porn film. A documentary by filmmaker and conceptual artist Leilah Weinraub called Shakedown will be debuting this month, which is about black lesbian and gay strippers. It is described as “a stream-of-consciousness, nonfiction narrative about the queer women and men who populated the lesbian strip club scene in Los Angeles in the early aughts.” From the outside looking in, this checks just about every checkbox to receive the descriptor of ‘woke.’ The film description sounds tailor-made to get a bunch of retweets by people with pronouns in their bios.

It also sounds like a PR stunt.

The fact of the matter is that the public’s perception of Pornhub was never going to be that great because they’re a porn site, but now it’s even worse. The articles decrying Pornhub’s issues have come from both sides of the political aisle, and one would have to wonder if the site really cares that much about the wellbeing of those who have videos of their ‘performances’ uploaded. Why at this point would Pornhub feel the need to give such a push to a non-porn film? Even with the saucy angle of lesbian strippers, does it really fit what they’d get clicks for? Especially since lesbian strippers is likely considered tame content for the site.

This is like Arby’s starting a vegan menu. The decision makes no practical sense. It’s a documentary about a niche adult industry that likely isn’t going to make them that much money, compared to all of the amateur and professional adult content creators doing the horizontal (and any other position you can imagine) tango. With that in mind, this quote from Pornhub’s Alex Klein: 

This film is part of a larger general commitment Pornhub has to supporting the arts. We want to be seen as a platform that artists and creators can use.

– sounds like stuff from The Onion. For Pornhub, this is a “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” moment. What makes it funnier is that it’s likely to work with today’s media, with the likes of Variety, IndieWire and Endgaget already gobbling it up.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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