kink – A Reflection by Erik Johan Strand

At this year’s festival, there appeared to be a significant emphasis on pornography (particularly films James Franco was involved with), but no film on the slate compares to the documentary produced by James Franco, titled kink. kink – the film title is intentionally not capitalized – takes viewers behind the scenes of kink.com, the leading website in BDSM pornography, housed in the San Francisco Armory. Pornography, despite a great deal of protest from various parties, has become less of a taboo and more of a mainstream realization within society. However, BDSM (bondage, discipline/dominance, submission/sadism, masochism) still lies comfortably on the fringe. The myth behind pornography, particularly pornography of this variety, revolves around the people involved. These actors – if one can call them that – are often viewed as severely damaged people with disgusting and vile sexual preferences. A surprisingly humorous documentary, kink does an excellent job of demystifying these people and the job they perform. At various points the documentary pushes the limits in terms of what footage is shown, but this only to cast a comprehensive light on the industry. Although a difficult task, director Christina Voros handily maneuvers the line between documenting and turning the film into a full-fledged porno. The emphasis of the film lies squarely on developing the portrayal of the people involved. Interviews and candid moments depict how surprisingly normal these people really are. They joke with one another, talk about sports, treat each other with respect; it is not, as some might assume, all about sex. The other interesting aspect about this business is how truly professional it really is. These people have intense safety measures in place to make sure everyone involved is comfortable and secure, both physically and emotionally. Another scene is devoted entirely to market research of their subscription service so they can better understand their target demographics ever changing tastes and preferences. Due in large part to Christina Voros distinct vision, as well as the controversial subject matter, kink grabs a (9) on the “mainstream vs. independent spectrum.” The documentary pulls very few punches, and the ones that are pulled are done so in order to maintain the integrity of the documentary and prevent it, as I mentioned earlier, from turning into a legitimate porno. The BDSM porn industry is something I can guarantee does not come up in every day conversation, so to have chosen this as a subject takes a great deal of balls, no pun intended.

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