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HuffPo's Porn Placement: Weird, Weird, Weird

HuffPo's Porn Placement: Weird, Weird, Weird

LOS ANGELES—The left-leaning Huffington Post gets a whole lot of mileage from its coverage of the porn industry, as evidenced by the fact that its Most Popular list always includes the pron. But for some reason the site still tends to stuff many of its porn articles in the Weird News section, which is a sub-category of News, listed just above Good News in the drop down. Sometimes the stories go elsewhere, of course, but the reasoning seems strange at times and one gets the distinct sense that the editors are having some intestinal issue deciding where to put the stuff.

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HuffPo is all about the label, of course, not just in terms of categorizing its content, but in order to render its subjects in acceptable terms and corral them in the politically correct sections. Sometimes it gets a little sticky, especially with subjects that defy consistent categorization. Porn presents an obviously sticky challenge. Take the April 29 article about porn stars “gratified” about research that indicates a far lesser negative influence from porn use than usually assumed. It didn’t belong in the Healthy Living section, that’s for sure, but Weird seemed just fine.

But the original HuffPo article on the same study was put into the Women section for some reason, even though the research was not gender specific. That decision is truly baffling, and perhaps suggests an unconscious tendency to equate porn with women’s issues. But then why put the follow up story into Weird?  It isn’t the first time. Another article published late last year about yet another psychological study related to porn performers—titled “Porn Stars Have Higher Self-Esteem Than Other Women: Study”—was also relegated to the Weird section, even though it, unlike this last study, directly addressed female performers.  Oddly, though, a different article on the same study was published the same day but put in the Los Angeles section. Go figure!

To be fair (though fairness in this instance may be a fool’s gambit), all the proggy online news sites—Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Salon, Slate, etcetera—have gotten into the porn star-as-columnist game to one degree or another, and with mixed but generally acceptable results. At least a myriad of voices from within the industry can now regularly be read on well-trafficked mainstream sites, a good thing for the industry in terms of humanizing (i.e. normalizing) the people in it. On the other hand, the comments accompanying these articles often contain stubbornly vicious expressions of hostility directed at the people who populate porn, and increasingly question why the stories are being published in the first place. One can only think these types of reactions are more than successfully offset by the number of clicks the stories receive.

But the embrace still feels tentative and inauthentic, which actually makes sense now that we know that one of the partners thinks the other is often categorically weird.

That’s OK, though. We often think you’re weird, too.






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Ann Oui

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