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Is Gay Porn Racist? I Don't Think So

02/12/2015 07:50 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Recently, I read Mike Alvear's Huffington Post blog post titled "Why Are Whites Always the Bottom in Interracial Porn?" In the piece Alvear makes the notion that the porn industry is profiting and contributing to the stereotype of black men as sexually aggressive, python-hung, insatiable, dominant thugs. Alvear concludes his article with a hopeful thought that more porn studios will feature versatility in interracial porn, in particular showing more black men as bottoms as well as tops. While Alvear's points do resonant with me, I can't help but to think, "So what?"

Porn should not be leading the conversation in social or racial issues, and we shouldn't be charging them to even contribute to that conversation. Right sentiment but wrong space. Porn is all about desire and losing inhibitions, at least behind a monitor. By its very nature porn caters to a person's fantasy and their innate impulses. As long as it doesn't involve kids or hurting others, people have a right to delve into all types of crazy adventures behind closed doors. And it's the porn industry's job to throw some clear high heels on those adventures. This image of black men as total tops with vivacious sexual appetites is not a porn problem. It's a people and perception problem.

Unfortunately, the fantasy doesn't stop at a video stream for some. There's a fine line between playfully experimenting with a fantasy and applying porn's exaggerated archetypes to real people. Again, fantasy is more rooted in extremes and thus tends to be more fixed. Sexual expression is much more fluid in real life and lends itself to more complexities. I mean, when was the last time someone watched porn for the character development and plot?

Going back to perception, there's an array of social factors that holistically mold cultural perceptions of the "hypermasculine black man." Statistics about black men, while necessary, are sometimes extrapolated by readers. Additionally, the news media oftentimes contribute to a distorted profile of black men.

The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit, published a study that outlined the role the news media plays in skewing such perceptions of black men. According to the study:

• "Television news programs and newspapers over-represent racial minorities as crime suspects and whites as crime victims. Black and Latino suspects are also more likely than whites to be presented in a non-individualized and threatening way -- unnamed and in police custody."

• "Crime coverage also betrays subtler racial differences. A study of television news found that black crime suspects were presented in more threatening contexts than whites: black suspects were disproportionately shown in mug shots and in cases where the victim was a stranger."

This also carries over into video games as well.

• According L. J. Shrum's book The Psychology of Entertainment Media: Blurring the Lines Between Entertainment and Persuasion, a 2008 study of race as portrayed in top-selling video games found that "Black and Hispanic men were significantly more likely to be [portrayed as] aggressive" than whites and Asians.

• Shrum mentions a second content analysis of video games (Burgess et al., 2008; Study 2) that found that "Black men were grossly overrepresented as thugs (perpetrators of illegal aggression absent any clear and present danger), and seldom depicted as engaging in justified aggression, unlike White men."

The above insights incidentally work in a coordinated effort to paint the picture of black men as scary antagonists who are armed and dangerous looking for their next victim. The responsibility shouldn't fall on the porn industry to mend or facilitate social justice issues or deflate this image.

Does porn profit from such perceptions of black men? Absolutely. But social applications and theory has no place in the construct of a fantasy. Fantasy is also about escape, which includes a deviation from those same social applications around race and gender. I don't think it's a question of whether or not gay porn is racist or feeds into stereotypes of black masculinity. Quite honestly, I don't think those discussions or social concepts apply to porn. Fantasy shouldn't be regulated. And frankly, when I think about porn aiming to be more PC, I start to yawn.