“Piracy is not a victimless crime,” reads a warning screen displayed on the DVD before the featured program begins.
It’s a damn good thing Sony Pictures reminded me of this fact up front – because you’d sure never know it from the contents movie on the other side of the warning.
On its face, Sex Tape is a modern romantic comedy about the inevitable loss of passion that takes place over the course of a marriage. Steeped in comic cliché, the movie dispenses rapid-fire jokes covering everything from the spontaneous erections of youth and the awkward first meeting of your prospective spouse’s parents to pregnant sex and highly irritating, predictable “kids say the darndest things” moments in the car.
Sex Tape introduces the subject of self-recorded porn with a brief exchange between two of the film’s forgettable male characters about sexting and explicit selfies. Luckily, we leap from there to “Annie” (Cameron Diaz) in effect doing a turn as Roller Girl from Boogie Nights.
I must say, however lacking in merit the rest of the movie might be, it was almost worth the price of the DVD to observe my husband as he watched Diaz skate and spin about in orange panties and a nearly transparent half-shirt. (I’ve berated him several times since, but I think removing the shit-eating grin from his dirty-old-man-face might still require surgery….)
Despite how insanely hot Diaz is, the vibe of the evening immediately collapses – in predictable comedic fashion, of course, as the couple searches in vain for a position or location in the house which will spice things up, and reawaken “Jay’s” (Jason Segel) inexplicably hibernating erection.
Trying to spice things up, what’s a modern couple to do? Well, make a sex tape, naturally. With the help of a little tequila, an iPad, and a copy of the Joy of Sex, Jay and Annie make the leap into the wonderful world of self-made porn.
Presumably, this is where hilarity is supposed to ensue.
Instead of deleting the video evidence of their night of passion, Jay accidentally syncs the video with a network of iPads – devices which, for some reason, Jay has recently distributed among friends, colleagues and, apparently, the mailman, as well.
What follows is mildly amusing, if terribly predictable, Hollywood rom-com claptrap. There are some good lines, one genuinely funny scene (at the house of “Hank,” a conflicted, egotistical, corporate type played very ably by rob Lowe) and a litany of cheap jokes and sexual innuendo.
The film’s generally mediocre quality isn’t my primary issue with Sex Tape, however; my major beef with the movie is the “Tube Factor.”
In choosing to make one particular tube the user-generated porn site of choice for Howard (Robby’s son) to ‘own’ Jay following his porn-cloud-error, the makers of the movie made a choice: They chose promote a site which serves as a vehicle for profligate online piracy.
Yes, filmmakers from Hollywood, the same Hollywood which has sued end-users and site owners alike for violating the copyright of studios like Sony Pictures, chose to include one particular tube in Sex Tape, chose to repeatedly utter the brand’s name, and chose to make the head of this tube site (in a cameo by Jack Black) something akin to a ‘voice of wisdom’ within the story’s narrative.
The makers of Sex Tape could have made up a fake site name, or they could have sought out an adult company that doesn’t operate a business model reliant on copyright violation and the illicit distribution of porn, and used that brand name in place of this actual tube site.
Segel, who is also credited as the screenwriter of Sex Tape, didn’t have to script dialogue in which Black mentions several other major sources of pirated porn. (In fairness, the character does also spit out a plethora of legit adult brands, as well, for what it’s worth.)
I don’t know that “irony” is the right word, but part of the Black’s soliloquy near the end of the film manages to express something so far afield of reality that it really stood out for me.
“Internet porn gets a bad rap in some circles, but it’s not deserved,” Black’s character says. “I’m always telling people this: our tube is a community, a safe supportive place where people can go to display videos of themselves ass-fucking each other.”
Admittedly, on one level, that’s a pretty funny line. On another level, however, it’s a perversion of the truth about this, and other sites like it.
“Communities” such sites might be, but outside of the actual self-made porn displayed thereon (videos like those Jay and Annie make in Sex Tape, only uploaded intentionally) these sites are the exact opposite of “supportive” to the industry from which their content is culled.
From the perspective of many adult producers, so-called “tube” sites are parasites, pure and simple. They suck the lifeblood of revenue from the very studios, producers and performers whose images make their sites so popular in the first place.
It’s important to understand: Hollywood knows this.
At the very least, there’s no question the MPAA knows all about sites like these. If any adult tube site like the one featured in the “Sex Tape” film distributed movies made by MPAA member-studios, you sure as shit better believe they’d be all over the ICE division of Homeland Security lobbying them to seize the domain, as they did with sites like TVShack.net, FilesPump.com and others.
To be clear, I don’t really expect Hollywood to support or feel solidarity with the porn industry, despite how similar our products might be and despite the fact piracy impacts both industries in similar ways. That said, it’s still disappointing to see Sony Pictures celebrating and promoting brands which were built by effectively plucking flesh right off the skeleton of the legitimate adult entertainment industry.
Whether it’s Sex Tape or Don Jon, or the likes of Samuel Jackson extolling the virtues of porn tubes, the message from Hollywood is clear: Online piracy is only a problem when it affects THEM.
Otherwise, I guess piracy is just a cute, amusing little cultural phenomenon which are fun to explore through forgettable, middling rom-com flicks.
This seems like a good place to announce my upcoming debut as a porn director. The working title of my maiden flight as smut peddler is How and Where to Download the Latest Hollywood Films for Free, XXX.
It’s gonna be a laugh riot, filled with brand names which online consumers of free mainstream entertainment already know, quite well, but to which the general public has, tragically, never been properly introduced.
Granted, it’s never easy to predict the popularity of a movie before it has even been made, but where my directorial debut is concerned, of this much I’m certain: Sony’s attorneys will LOVE it!
Source: Erotic Scribes