Flynt, the publisher of Hustler magazine, reckons that the US has lost its mojo thanks to the gloomy economic situation – and he wants Barack Obama to put things right. The veteran pornographer is fronting a campaign that’s seeking $5bn in state funds – the argument being that if it’s good enough for the car-makers, it’s good enough for one of the most, erm, vibrant US entertainment industries. With a swift injection of public cash, the industry could ‘rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America,’ the group claims. We’d love to be a fly on the wall for that meeting...
Flynt’s group, which includes Joe Francis, the producer of Girls Gone Wild (we don’t know it personally but we’re told it’s some kind of lewd video series), will argue that the industry has fallen on hard times, with DVD sales down 22% this year. ‘With all this economic misery and people losing all that money, sex is the farthest thing from their mind,’ moaned Flynt in a statement. ‘Congress seems willing to help shore up our nation's most important businesses, (and) we feel we deserve the same consideration,’ added Francis.
Call us old cynics, but we suspect it’s fairly unlikely that President Obama will be persuaded to sign a big cheque in support of the porn industry (not least because Francis hasn't long been out of jail after pleading guilty to child abuse and prostitution charges – not terribly sympathetic). And it’s not exactly as though the industry is on its last legs; the two men admit that this is more of a precautionary measure than a desperately-needed rescue package, but have decided that if there’s free money going, their cause is as good as anyone else’s.
Preposterous though this may seem, it does raise an interesting question. Once the government steps in to bail out its own car industry, it establishes a rather dangerous precedent. The US porn industry can rightly argue that it’s a world leader in its field, that it provides employment for lots of American voters (albeit some of whom probably can’t spell Democrat, let alone vote it) and that it’s grappling with some stiff challenges – alternative media, piracy and so on. Perhaps in this instance, the decision will be easy on moral grounds – but next time an industry comes to Washington with a begging-bowl, the case is unlikely to be so clear-cut. The auto bailout could really open Pandora' box.
Nonetheless, the pornographers’ chances of getting state cash are somewhere between slim and non-existent. Besides, surely the industry has a ready-made solution: why don’t Flynt and co just get a hunky plumber to come round and fix their problems?