Response To Review Of Nina...

Mr. Kernes...

I want to say that I am a really long-time fan of yours and have been since before you left Philadelphia. I think that your political commentary is often some of the most important available.

So, here comes the "but" - I think you really, really, really missed on the Nina ... review on just about all counts. I'm not writing this in any mean way because I know that you are almost certainly overloaded.

Anyway, I would like to (briefly) make the following observations:

1. The film is NOT about Nina Hartley's career, nor about whether she remarried nor whether she still dances. It is only about her in the sense that she is an archtypical pro-sex feminist activist. So, your harping on the film being "out of date" with regards to her current career is kind of petty and way off target. What is perhaps truly amazing is that interviews done eight or nine years ago are even more timely today!

2. I think that (probably because of your workload) you watched the film on fast-forward and missed a great deal. For example, Barbara Nitke's commentary, far from being a "downer" actually points out (in a very funny and eloquent way) that there is little or no difference between the porn world and the corporate world (she works in both).She also talks extensively about her court case, which you seem to have completely missed.

Mr. Kernes, PLEASE give this film another look. It is an important political statement --one with which you will likely mostly agree-- and one that needs to be heard.



I replied:


Thanks for your comments. I will give the movie another look, and like the first time, not on fast-forward.

Certainly, you make some valid points, but even Nina herself was surprised to hear that the disk was just now being released, with interview footage she gave so long ago. (I think her comment was, "Oh, God; was that when I was still married to Bobbi?!?") While I may have overemphasized the time element, I don't think it's unfair to expect that a statement on Nina's politics (or even on her role as an "archtypical pro-sex feminist activist") have some temporal connection to even the past couple of years, which none of the segments do. Moreover, although this may find a wide mainstream audience - and I hope it does - viewers familiar with porn will wonder why no current performers are featured or even mentioned. I've seen many documentaries that dealt with historical figures and non-contemporary events, but there's no sense that R.C. Hörsch knows how dated some of this material is.

I admit that this may partly be my problem; I am so steeped in current events that much of the politics covered in the movie struck me as "Been there, done that," and I suspect several of the participants would agree. Also, when I finish transcribing Nina's speech to California NOW from a couple of weeks ago, I think you'll see the vast difference between her feminist political expression now and what's expressed in this documentary.

Moreover, one thing I failed to mention in the review is that I don't think Nina ... is well-edited, in the sense that the interviews don't move smoothly from topic to topic; it has a very patchwork feel to it.

Finally, the documentary IS titled Nina ...; I don't think it's unreasonable to expect it to be mainly about her, her views and her life; hence the massage scenes, and the interview with her mother. If it's meant to be an examination of the state of feminism in porn, or the relation of porn and its performers to feminism in general, I don't think it succeeds as well on that level.

Again, thanks for your views, and if you don't mind, I will consider your email as a "letter of comment" on my article, and print it in AVN's letter column (omitting, of course, your email address).


Dear Mr. Kernes,

I am deeply honored that you have taken the time to write back to me!

I think you sort of nailed it when you described your perspective. To you, and the people in the adult industry, the content of the film is, of course, old-hat and dated. But for the billions who are not members of the choir, the material is truly eye-opening - and they are the intended audience. (The Nadine Strossen clip that you quoted is a prime example.)

Maybe think of it (the film) as an admittedly imperfect but important PR piece for your industry. The PC view of sex and pornography is rather [insert your list here but mine starts with schizoid] and the sex industry needs all of the help it can get. And I think that this film may really help. I mean, I showed my copy to my parents and they were truly amazed (in a very eye-opening and positive sense) by some of the things said in the film - things they have never heard from mainstream media and never will.

So that, for what it may be worth, is my suggestion: Present this film as a PR tool, something positive to show the people who don't get it.

As to the editing, I agree with what you said. The film is 80% talking heads and, from any standpoint, an organizational nightmare. But to me, it is what is being said that is most important.



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