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Child Porn - by Children

[COMMENT:  You pastors and educators -- what are you doing about this sort of thing?  Where are the men who will stand up and defend their families?    E. Fox]
 


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Issue Date: April 17-23, 2006, Posted On: 4/17/2006

Williamson: The new pornographers­kids
Commentary by Amanda Williamson

Parents today shouldn't just worry about whether or not their kids are
consuming porn; they should worry about whether or not their kids are
participating in, producing and selling it.

Justin Berry, a young man who from the ages of 13 to 18 had been performing
pornographic acts for an audience of 1,500 men through his Web cam,
testified before Congress recently, highlighting the inadequacies of law
enforcement when it comes to combating child pornography.  By telling his
story to the New York Times last year and by cooperating with the FBI, Mr.
Berry exposed a burgeoning subculture of teens who are paid by adults to
use their Web cams to make pornography.  These teens call themselves
"camwhores."

Some of them make thousands of dollars a month for servicing pedophiles.

For years, the term "amateur porn" was largely a misnomer.  Professionals
profited from a craving for low production value, less artificial-looking
footage.  Now, real amateur porn is ascendant.  Celebrity camwhore Paris
Hilton boosted her profile after the release of grainy tapes showing her
having sex.   She eventually maneuvered her way into profiting from the
reproduction and sale of such tapes.  The similarly profitable and popular
"Girls Gone Wild" videos rely on otherwise ordinary young women to expose
and degrade themselves.  Increasingly, the normalization of porn means not
only the widespread acceptance of pornographic imagery in the media but
also the willingness of otherwise normal people to participate in the
production of pornography.   As Mr. Berry's story illustrates, young people
are particularly susceptible to this.

Why?

The most technologically proficient members of society, adolescents are
also the least responsible and least morally developed.  In some respects,
the more intimate a person is with technology, the more comfortable they
are participating in porn.  This is because porn is the intersection of sex
and technology and always requires a technological apparatus.   The nature
of the apparatus is key.  The more the technology fosters anonymity and
isolation, the more it breaks down the participant's inhibitions and
self-consciousness.  Thus, adolescents who might resist a molester's
advances face-to-face can become pliant performers when computers filter
out physical contact.  In their cynicism, these children dub themselves
whores, but in their innocence, they are essentially the victims of
anonymous, long-distance molesters.

Techno-savvy youth are faced with a dilemma: they have tons of creative
freedom when it comes to their image, but far less control over its
use.  An example is MySpace.com, an Internet social forum.  Girls as young
as 14 can post pictures of themselves striking very sexual poses in
bikinis.  They may hope to attract boys their own age, but their pages are
just as likely to be viewed­and responded to­by pedophiles.

Also, technology has profoundly affected how young people see themselves in
ways that adults do not fully understand.  People growing up with the
Internet, camera phones, Web cams, reality TV shows, and video blogs view
reality itself as a product.  This translates directly into their
self-images and makes them extremely vulnerable to exploitation by
irresponsible adults.   In the very moment of their struggle for
individuality and autonomy­adolescence­they can be bought and sold.

In the mainstream, certain advertisers are tapping into the
youth-pornography subculture.  Most recently, clothing retailer American
Apparel's print advertising mimics amateur porn.  The gritty, raw, low-tech
ads feature employees of American Apparel, not models.  While not underage,
many are young.  They are often pictured in bed in various stages of
undress.  The appeal of these ads lies in their low production value.  Kids
like them because they look like something they could produce on their own.

This is a very important marketing technique right now.  Coca-Cola has
tried it with its "Make it Real" commercial campaign, in which four young
men go on a road trip to produce a documentary about youth culture.   (And
by documentary I mean a series of spots featuring young people drinking
Coke.) The Beastie Boys recently produced a film composed mostly of video
footage their fans shot at a Madison Square Garden concert.  American
Apparel has simply added porn to the gimmick, obliquely capitalizing on
child-produced child pornography.

When porn was primarily viewed in theaters and print, there was less room,
and consequently less tolerance, for child pornography.  First VHS, then
the Internet gave cover and carte blanche to deviant and dangerous sexual
subcultures.  Mainstream culture is the percolating up of various
subcultures.  The mass media are like pirates when it comes to popularizing
the latest perversity.  To some, youth-produced pornography is just the
latest plunder.

- Amanda Williamson is a freelance journalist and contributor to Insight on
the News.

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