Morality-free porn coverage

picassoThe Columbus Dispatch had one of the most straightforward accounts of a porn try-out session I have ever seen in a mainstream newspaper Thursday. Substitute the subject of pornography, and you could have easily placed the story in the Wednesday afternoon farmer's market where tomatoes and cabbage are for sale to the general public. Here is a sample of the article:

Now, at 20, the University of Toledo student is hoping for a "comeback" in Playboy -- a curious notion for someone who had to be persuaded to wear shorts, instead of jeans, to the Columbus call.

"People dare you to go off the high dive. I think this is her jump, you know?" said her mother, Jackie Lampros-Moore, waiting outside Megan's audition room.

"It's like: 'If I can do this, I can do anything.' "

To her credit, Megan answered her interview questions confidently -- or, at least, loudly -- and didn't shake as much as she thought she would.

She winked and smirked for photos in a blue bikini, then agreed to take off her top.

Here, a reporter faces a nearly impossible challenge of being objective in a news report. There is the perspective that pornography is a legitimate trade that helps women and that it should not be seen as (morally) wrong. This is the perspective that this article seems to convey to an extent. There is of course the more traditional (or feminist?) view that pornography exploits women and should not be condoned. This view is largely absent from the story but lurks between the lines.

See this quote from a mother of one of the women. I cannot say for sure whether she is proving encouragement or sarcasm:

After the five-minute audition Tuesday, Megan returned to the lobby to tell her mother that she had just been photographed completely naked.

"Oh, nice, princess!" the proud mom exclaimed.

And then, like a true amateur model, Megan headed to get a Whopper.

Most Playboy wannabes are similarly uninitiated, said Jeff Cohen, executive editor and publisher of special editions, who estimates that 90 percent of the hopefuls have never modeled.

I didn't provide the emphasis on the word "nice." It was included in the story.

After thinking about it over the weekend, I appreciate that this story allows the reader to draw their own conclusion. It reminds me of Stephanie Simone's "up close and personal" look at abortion clinics. Regular readers of this blog will recognize that as quite a compliment.

On Friday, I noted that the coverage of the alleged pact between high school students all under the age of 16 to get pregnant lacked much coverage regarding morality and values. The challenge here is related, but the absence of values coverage is more stark and perhaps that's appropriate. The characters in the Playboy story are given voices. The opposite was true in the coverage of the pregnancy "pact" stories where the characters declined to speak to reporters.

In this case, no one challenges the decision to disrobe for the cameras, and there are no apparent consequences to society. Perhaps with intimate up-close coverage as provided here, this is the best way to go. Readers are given the freedom to draw their own conclusions from a straightforward news account.

Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon completed in 1907 used under fair use rational. Copyright is claimed by Picasso's estate.

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