That’s not entertainment

No sooner do I upbraid one collection of strategically vague claims than I find myself reading another.

Louis Theroux has compared pornography to junk food and argued that sex work is a valid occupation in the modern world.

The film-maker returns to BBC2 on Sunday with Forbidden America, a three-part series that explores the adult entertainment industry as it grapples with its own MeToo movement.

Sigh. “Sex work” is feelgood for selling access to one’s body to strangers. “The adult entertainment industry” is feelgood for porn, including violent porn. If you’re going to talk about it, talk about it; don’t pretty it up.

Theroux, 51, told Radio Times that he has watched pornography for the sake of expediency. He admitted: “I’ve been a user of porn. I sort of see it as a bit like . . . maybe this sounds harsh, but it’s a bit like junk food, right?”

Wrong. It’s the opposite of harsh. It’s mollifying. It’s self-excusing. The “junk” in his junk food metaphor here is women – damaged exploited women.

“I genuinely see sex work as work, and valid work, and I know that’s controversial in some quarters,” he said. “These stories are hard to tell, because enlightened, thoughtful, intelligent people can disagree passionately about what it means to be paid to have sex.”

Fun fact: the word “women” doesn’t appear in the piece. Not once. You’d never know there was any power imbalance or exploitation at stake – in fact there’s nothing even indicating why his view is controversial.

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