Note: I posted it in this forum, as I expect that some of what I say in my review, most especially towards the end of it, will bring about some debate regarding sex/porn law in this country.
Earlier today, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to attend the Grand Rapids leg of the cross-country debate tour with Ron Jeremy and Craig Gross of XXXChurch. It was an 18+ event at the Intersection, one of only seven venues nationwide hosting the event. The only discernable reason for the age restriction is because fear or puritanical outcry over the notion that minors might hear "naughty" words like 'cum' or 'anilingus'. Certainly, it seemed quite pointless, as 99% of those in attendance were over the legal drinking age.
Overall, the experience was a good one, and the event certainly justified the $15 pricetage (via Ticketmaster). Running roughly an hour and forty-five minutes, the two debaters both began with 15 minute long statements, and then had the chance to answer questions asked by the audiences and through Mozes. As far as stringency of format preservation, there was none. No rules were outlined, and outbursts among the person whose turn it was not, were standard fair. But, given the non-serious nature of the whole thing, this wasn't really a problem. It lent to a lighter atmosphere, better reflecting the underlying goal of entertainment.
As for oratory skills, both with severely lacking. Ron Jeremy, for somebody who has a Masters in Special Education, is himself quite inept. This is to be expected, as he displayed a similar distance from the English language in the documentary "Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy". Gross, the so called 'porn pastor'. was better, but only marginally so. Throughout, he found himself unable to grasp the right word, unable to make a single valid point. His only success came in sarcasm, which clearly sailed well above Ron's head. Of the two, it is clear that neither ought to rely on their public speaking skills in the future, with Gross looking almost competent, only as a consequence of who he was sharing the stage with.
Ron however, had one clear advantage: he was right. Gross paints himself as a moderate, trying to kindly spread the word of Jesus in a non-threatening way. To that extent, he has always made sure to get booths inside porn expos rather than picket outside, and gave bibles to porn stars rather than quote dogmatic vitriol to them. And, to the extent that he doesn't seek to harmonize Christian doctrine and American law in the same way that many of his counterparts do, he is more palatable. But, surface appearances aside, his words revealed his true colors. He is, in fact, no better than fundamentalists like Fallwell. Amidst the questions, examples such as Maxim Magazine and MTV were cited. And, while both might represent the nadir of entertainment with respect to quality, they are certainly far from explicit or censor-worthy. He seemed to disagree, essentially lumping them in with the pornography he so quickly and irrationally attacked. Providing no accepted medical or scientific information, he ignored reality and instead relied on a mix of bible-thumping and shock stories. Pulling out one or two examples of adult stars who made bad choices, he labeled the whole industry in the same light. And, disregarding the fact that nations with more lax takes on pornography and sexuality, such as Sri Lanka and Holland, have lower divorce and sexual assault rates than the United States, he felt content to demonize it. It seems especially hypocritical when you consider that he too confessed to masturbating to pornography when he was younger.
However, Ron also said a couple of things which were bothersome. My first issue was his support for restricting access to pornography to those over 18. This is irrational for several reasons, one of which is that the age of consent is as young as 14 in some states. So to think that a person can have sex but not watch it strikes me as more than a little hypocritical. Moreover, in this climate of sexual puritanism, cultivated by Christian fundamentalists, the information regarding sex that many youths are exposed to simply isn't adequate. Porn should not replace sexual education, but rather compliment it. And in the absence of any information whatsoever, it does prove to have some value, more so that complete aversion to the topic.
The second issue I have with him is the way he treated more niche pornography. While defending controversial figures like Max Hardcore (who is currently facing obscenity prosecution for exercising his right to free expression), he was equally quick to condemn them, and suggest that there may be a moral issue with such stuff. In that respect, he sounded no different from the pastor, merely shifting the line of tolerance. How he can so willing condemn his peer for catering to market demand through the release of fetish material is nothing shy of sickening. Worse though was his suggestion that certain material face criminal prosecution. Specifically, he cited beastiality and child pornography. Beastiality, repulsive as it may be, is still legal in at least 21 states. Why should an act which is legal to engage in be illegal to film? And, how just is it for those stores currently selling such material in the US (and yes, they do exist) to all face prison time for selling material to consenting adults? The Dutch and Japanese have output a fair bit of this material, some of which people still enjoy here. In fact, one of the most famous porn starts of all times, Linda Lovelace (Deep Throat), did an early 8mm loop wherein she fornicated with a dog. The case on child pornography is less clear cut. I am not suggesting that he is wrong to condemn it. In cases where consent is not issued, that is problematic. But that would automatically be illegal. What I find troubling is that such a ban removes many legitimate pieces of adult entertainment from the market. Countries like Holland allow performers as young as 16 to participate in adult films. They all consent, are fully aware of what they are doing, and are mature enough to make such decisions. Domestically, the material is easy to locate. But not so in the United States. Our laws prevent that from getting past customs. He was right to condemn internet porn rings that stream infant rape videos and so forth. But to not make a clear exception for the above material seems to me very wrong.
Overall, Ron Jeremy failed the porn industry. He did what so many others have done before him, selling out the more risque figures in the industry, in order to appear more wholesome, under the illogical belief that it will gain the industry a measure of approval in the eyes of the so called 'moral majority'. In that sense, his idiocy was much appreciated, as his ineptitude as a spokesman was less boldly displayed. Gross, though only marginally more proficient in English than an ESL student, presented a better view of Christians, and made his case more effectively. Sadly, not one point he made even approached being right.