TV LAND—Current TV’s documentary “Vanguard: Porn 2.0” premieres Wednesday night at 10:00pm on various cable and satellite carriers around the country, including Dish, DirectTV, Comcast, Time Warner and others. It can also be found in the U.K. and Italy on the Sky and Virgin networks.
The documentary, which also is currently viewable on Hulu, covers much the same ground as other recent documentaries looking at the state of porn in the age of ubiquitous digital delivery. Narrated by Vanguard correspondent Christof Putzel, the show spends most of its time visiting the offices and sets of Kink.com in San Francisco and Wicked Pictures in the San Fernando Valley section of greater Los Angeles, as well as the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, a requirement for all such documentary producers.
On the Huffington Post Wednesday, Putzel explained the documentary's raison d'être. “From music to movies to newspapers,” he wrote, “the media industries are struggling to figure out how to use the Internet without losing their shirts. With some combination of envy and disgust, they've watched from the sidelines as the pornography industry seized every opportunity to get before the wider audience all of them sought. But today, the technology that once pushed the adult industry forward is stripping away its profits.”
Unlike most documentaries on the porn industry, Porn 2.0 pretty much dispenses with the usual hand-wringing over the morality of pornography and instead focuses on the struggles of adult producers, distributors, performers, directors and others to adapt to a digital environment in which everyone expects everything for free.
There are extensive interviews with Kink.com employees as well as Kink CEO and founder Peter Ackworth, and also with Wicked Pictures owner Steve Ornstein, director Brad Armstrong and contract star jessica drake. Putzel also speaks with Regina Lynn from Wired, and there are several cameos by people at AEE, including Jay Kopita and Connor Young from YNOT and Francis Koenig from iPorn. Gonzo also makes an appearance, touting the benefits of the RealTouch device, which, appropriately enough has only just become available for purchase to consumers.
Ironically, as a minority of industry leaders endeavor to incorporate 3.0 innovations into their business models, mainstream documentaries that purport to take a contemporary look at the business simply continue to lag one step behind. Vanguard: Porn 2.0 succeeds in showing an industry struggling to regain its position as a definer of the cutting edge rather than become a victim of it, but fails in fulfiilling the ultimate purpose of great documentary filmmaking, which is to reveal the truth behind the accepted reality of its subject-matter. While it's better than it could have been, if not as good as it needs to be, we'll just have to keep waiting for the documentarian who is able to tell us what we don't already know or haven't been told a hundred times before.
Visit the Vanguard page here.