Today, I read a blog post entitled "An Open Letter to the Feminist Porn Awards" from Kitty Stryker. My New Year's Resolution this year was to stay away from Internet Drama. I got so embroiled in dumb-ass arguments last year. I do feel that I need to address this, however. The only voices on this issue shouldn't be those using disingenuous attacks as a form of self-promotion.
Kitty takes issue with the Feminist Porn Awards new criteria, which stress that the films will be judged not just on their feminist sentiment, but also on their quality as films. The Feminst Porn Awards are looking for movies that fit four criteria: Quality, Inclusiveness, The "It" Factor and Hotness — all things I think are crucial in judging a work for an award show like this. Surely, not just our message but the effort and skill with which we transmit it matters to our merit as filmmakers.
Kitty, however, complains about that the Award's "Quality" section.
High production value requires valuable time, learned skills, expensive equipment, pricey editing software, budget to fund the project. It sets a precedent that capitalist consumerist values are more important than actual politics, which is somewhat contrary to feminism, in my understanding. Additionally for those who are not as privileged and don’t have companies funding their projects, or who are small, independent companies, earnestness is all they often have. By seemingly setting the bar in a way that requires financial privilege, you are likely shutting out many potential feminist pornographers, which is disappointing in a space that wants to court diversity.
It's absurd to expect an award show not to pay attention to the quality of the work it's awarding. Of course both our message and the medium we use to transmit it matter. Good art isn't just about having a good idea; it requires good execution. High Production value does require time and effort and skill... or money. If you don't have money, you must invest more time and skill and effort. The world of cinema has changed. If you have access to a cellphone and a library card, you have everything you need to make a high quality movie. One of Sundance's breakout hits this year was "Tangerine" — shot entirely on an iPhone with an $8 app (and, interestingly enough, about trans sex workers). So much of creating quality content is attention to detail and bothering to make something good. My entire career, I have fought against the triangle of Fast-Cheap-Good and tried to find some balance. Making something exceptional is difficult, and that is why we reward exception. Continue reading