There is one message ‘Hot Girls Wanted’ is trying to push and it is this; Porn can be exploitative. It’s surprising, in the age of the ever-growing internet, that we need to be reminded of this but I suppose there must be at least one person who is unaware of how manipulative and exploitative the porn industry can be. What is more confusing, however, is that it takes the film-makers 1 and half hours to make this point without ever exploring the topic of pornography any deeper. To be clear, I think this is a film worth watching – especially if you are someone who has never encountered porn in their lives, but it is also a film to be watched with skepticism. I’ll explain why.
‘Hot Girls Wanted’ (Jill Bauer & Ronna Gradus, 2015) tells the collective stories of a group of young women who all make a living working in ameteur porn. They are all relatively young (18 – 21), they all share a house in Miami and it seems that most of them are pretty happy with their lives. At least, to begin with. It transpires quickly that all of the girls in the house have been recruited (usually via craigslist) by the owner of the house (Riley Reynolds) and he explains that most of the girls have a shelf life of about 3 months, due to the constant demand for newer and younger girls. ‘Hot Girls Wanted’ starts with a montage of images and footage of various celebrities, all of whom are renowned for either their sex tapes, career in the porn industry or for their displays of overt sexually. Included are Belle Knox, Miley Cyrus and Sasha Grey. The opening montage alludes to the idea of a sex-crazed culture, where morality and sexuality are at war and where young women are objectified at every corner. Of course, this is exactly the culture we live in but it is misleading to say that this is the core topic of ‘Hot Girls Wanted’. In fact, at no point is the media, objectification and sexualisation actually brought up apart from in the very vague and deceptive opening. The film-makers were clearly attempting to push towards a ‘bigger picture’ narrative, but it seems that they completely forgot they were doing that at all.
Our introduction to the girls is via a twitter-style graphic; their age, name, pornstar name and how long they have been working in ameteur porn. It’s accessible, especially for generation Y – we are all reduced to a name, number, location and profession and most of this is accessed via social media. It’s easily digestible, and is a fantastic tactic to actually keep these girls at arm level; we can view them as an online presence rather than as an actual person. Throughout the documentary, we discover that many of the girls have very similar stories; most are young, want independence (financially and physically) and most of them saw porn as a way to achieve this. As one of them says, they can make anything from $800 upwards from a scene; where else can a woman without a degree earn that kind of money. They talk openly and frankly with the producers, we see them drinking, laughing and talking. The vast majority of them seem happy with their work and happy with their living situation. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make for a very interesting documentary, so quite soon we begin to see images of the girls working in porn and discussions about they may be being exploited themselves.
As I said, it’s worth watching but please – don’t believe it’s factual just because it’s a documentary.