Money Shot: The Pornhub Story (2023) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): A mild, neutral documentary on Pornhub

Like many of you, I know a bit about Pornhub and several other online service companies associated with pornography. Although I did not use Pornhub much, I must confess that I have often used a certain well-known gay pornography production company as well as OnlyFans for merely exploring my sexual taste, and all I can say is here is that I have been more knowledgeable about what makes me sexually tick than before.

That is why I was quite interested in watching recent Netflix documentary film “Money shot: The Pornhub Story, but this documentary, which was released in last month, feels rather tame and unfocused on the whole. Frequently switching back and forth between two contrasting viewpoints, the documentary attempts to give us a balanced overview of online pornography industry, but I felt more like being jerked in one way or another throughout my viewing, and I wonder whether that was the point from the beginning.

At the beginning, the documentary shows and tells us how the technology advancement of the Internet seemed to promise a brave new world for many pornography industry workers in the early 2010s. Once they get verified on Pornhub or other similar online pornography service companies, they can earn more with more freedom as independent content producers, and several pornography performers interviewed in the documentary are eager to talk about how much they were excited by this new business possibility.

However, of course, as some of you remember, there came a big scandal for Pornhub in 2020. Shortly after an alarming article by New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof was published, the backlash against Pornhub, which was already set in motion by a bunch of anti-pornography activists including Laila Mickelwait, became fiercer than ever in public. When several big credit card companies refused to provide their service to Pornhub as a consequence, the executives of MindGeek, which is its parent company, eventually decided to be more careful about those adult contents posted on Pornhub.

The documentary frankly recognizes how problematic Pornhub was from the beginning as promising lots of freedom (and pleasure) to its users. While most of those adult contents on Pornhub were consensually shot and then posted, there were also a considerable number of contents which were not so inappropriate in many aspects to say the least. Sure, Pornhub does have hundreds of employees monitoring and moderating the contents to be uploaded day by day, but there is certainly the limit in the ability of these employees. After all, who can possibly not be numbed by watching hundred hours of adult contents everyday?

And that is the main reason why lots of online sex crimes can happen on Pornhub and many other similar websites, and we hear about the certain horrible case of one teenager girl who was quite humiliated when some boy posted a video clip of her naked body on Pornhub. She certainly called Pornhub, but it took several weeks for Pornhub to erase everything associated with her just because it receives lots of cases like hers everyday. To make matters worse, she had to call Pornhub again and again because somebody always posted that video clip here and there.

Several anti-pornography figures interviewed in the documentary make some good points on how online pornography business can be exploitative, but then the documentary lets their opponents making equally persuasive counterarguments. For example, Mickelwait and many other anti-pornography activists have been associated with the conservative religious groups, and it is a shame that the documentary does not delve that much into this rather questionable aspect of these activists.

As far as I can see, the documentary seems to incline a bit toward pro-pornography, and it surely has a number of interesting figures who gladly talk more about how much they are proud of their sex work business – and how they felt hurt by the unfair backlash against them after the Pornhub scandal in 2020. Many of them had to endure a considerable financial setback because of that, and the sympathy of director Suzanne Hillinger is clearly with them as reflected by some intimate moments showing how they work day by day. Once their business option was shut down in Pornhub, many of them moved to OnlyFans, and they had a little sweet victory when OnlyFans later attempted to put more restraint on their adult contents later but then retreated at the last minute.

In conclusion, “Money Shot: The Pornhub Story” could be more focused as making a clearer stance on its main subject, but it will probably provoke lots of thoughts from you regardless of your personal opinion on pornography. In case of me, I cannot possibly make any neutral comment here, but I can tell you instead that I was amused a bit when I searched for more information on Google after watching the documentary. As soon as I typed “pornhub story”, lots of Pornhub contents appeared on the top of my Google search results, and the Wikipedia webpage of the documentary turned out to contain a lot more information compared to many other documentaries out there. That says a lot about how much the documentary has drawn public attention since it came out a month ago, and, despite my 2.5-star rating, maybe you should check it out right now.

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