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Drunk and Naked for the Camera: Predators Exploit Young Girls for Online Porn Business

Reality is quite different from 'Spring Breakers' for the non-celebs when it comes to sex on the Internet.
 
 
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Harmony Korine’s  Spring Breakers exposes the darker inner regrets that fester beneath the intoxicating day-glo of girls going absolutely wild in the hypnotic Florida sunshine. But what about the real Girls Gone Wild, those sometimes-underage revelers caught permanently between beer-stained contracts and Joe Francis’ camera lens? What about the real young women whose acts of sex come with regrets? Haven’t we all -- especially in our youth -- found ourselves mentally suspended in moments of coercion, moments we smile through by rote? In Spring Breakers, those smiles are reflected back to us, glistening softly with the lipstick we’ve applied in the broken mirror that is America.

In Spring Breakers, director Harmony Korine viscerally captures the emotional, mental and sensual inner process of coercion, both when he shows Faith (Selena Gomez) nearly quaking under the weight of Alien’s (James Franco) sweet and sinister cajoling, and also when our leading coeds (Ashley Benson and Vanessa Hudgens) corner Alien, and the tables are turned. We watch Korine’s cast flawlessly embody those gray area experiences that young people in particular seem to stumble into—the moments when life mimics the artistic style of this film, and the only real explanation is: It’s just sort of how it all happened, that’s all.

I can’t think of a single woman I know who is entirely free of sexual encounters that she regrets, for whatever reason. Spring Breakers is a surreal place to witness just the sort of real dilemmas that come with being young and beautiful and not yet entirely sure what’s what in the world. Fortunately for most, those moments play out with lower stakes and without the sting of being publicly scrutinized, acting as a container for society’s wayward projections.

But the real Girls Gone Wild tend to be less fortunate. It’s hard to imagine, but in 2011, in Panama City, another Floridian spring break capital, even an all-female jury found Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis not guilty on charges of emotional distress to four underaged girls who appeared in one of his company’s videos. If these women weren’t distressed before, some of them left the courtroom in tears after being questioned on the stand by Francis himself, who was acting as his own lawyer. Francis was found in contempt of court at one point in the trial, having asked one of the women if she was a prostitute. Resorting to tactics of emotional distress to clear himself of charges of emotional distress: is it tragic irony or dark comedy? 

But to read about it in the cult of online public opinion, most people blame the girls. Never mind that signing contracts while drinking free beer is standard practice for Girls Gone Wild, or that these women were underage when they signed them. People want to blame the women as though they were truly in a strong position to make choices they wouldn’t regret. And yet in life, we can’t all play it like Selena Gomez did with James Franco. Caught between sun and booze and youth and friends and so much confusion…sometimes it’s just too hard. 

In February 2013, Girls Gone Wild filed for bankruptcy—Chapter 11, sadly. Chapter 7 is the real bankruptcy, where they liquidate your stuff. Chapter 11 is the fake bankruptcy that corporations file when they want to keep making money while financially regrouping and taking cover from their creditors (Las Vegas casino creditors, in this case). In other words, at Spring Break 2013, it’s business as usual for convicted child abuser Joe Francis and Girls Gone Wild. 

But let’s set spring break aside for a moment and consider other college coeds who have made similar fledgling stumbles into sticky situations…literally. I’m thinking of the young women who have found their way onto Eric Whitaker’s Backroom Casting Couch, the reality-style porn series featuring women who have responded to an ad seeking adult models. They attend a fake “audition,” during which they are convinced to film a full-on porno—with the promise of a $1000-$5000-a-day job. The ladies are supposedly uncompensated for the filming because they’ve signed a release form prior to the “casting.” Their videos are then distributed over the company’s pay-site, as well as to multiple high-traffic free porn websites, to their humiliation.

 
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