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Price of Pleasure

Pornography, Sexuality & Relationships

Price of Pleasure

Duration: 55 min
ISBN: 1-932869-26-3
Date Produced: 2008
Subtitles: English

Filmmaker Info
Study Guide
Press Room
Press Reviews
Praise for the Film

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Price of Pleasure
Pornography, Sexuality & Relationships

Once relegated to the margins of society, pornography has emerged as one of the most visible and profitable sectors of the cultural industries, assuming an unprecedented role in the mainstream of our popular culture at the same time that its content has become more extreme and harsh, more overtly sexist and racist. This eye-opening and disturbing film tackles the complexity behind this seeming paradox, placing the voices of critics, producers, and performers alongside the observations of men and women as they candidly discuss the role pornography has played in shaping their sexual imaginations and relationships. Honest and non-judgmental, The Price of Pleasure moves beyond the liberal versus conservative debates so common in the culture to paint a myth-busting and nuanced portrait of how pleasure and pain, commerce and power, liberty and responsibility have become intertwined in the most intimate area of our lives. An ideal tool for initiating classroom discussion about this notoriously difficult subject.

DVD contains two version: an unexpurgated version (including explicit "hardcore" pornographic images) and a special "blurred" version edited for the classroom. DVD extras include an interview with Noam Chomsky about how and why he accepted an interview with Hustler magazine in 2004, and his candid view on pornography.

Viewer discretion advised: contains violence, nudity, and sexual imagery.

Discussion Guide available

Sections: Introduction | Porn Stars: Myths & Realities | Just a Fantasy? | Empowered by Porn? | Harder and Harder... | DVD Extra: An interview with Noam Chomsky

Filmmaker Info

Director & Producer: Chyng Sun & Miguel Picker
Editor: Miguel Picker
Written by: Chyng Sun & Robert Wosnitzer
Associate Producer: Robert Wosnitzer
Assistant Editor: Michelle Chang
Post-Production Supervisor: Miguel Picker
Original Music: Miguel Picker
Sound Design: Miguel Picker
Director of Photography: Miguel Picker
Music: Miguel Picker
Motion Graphics: Miguel Picker

Filmmaker's Bios

CHYNG SUN | Producer, Director & Writer
Dr. Chyng Sun is a filmmaker and a Clinical Associate Professor of Media Studies at McGhee Liberal Arts, School of Continuing and Professional Studies at New York University. Her research interests include media literacy; race, gender and sexuality in media; and audience research/media effects. With Miguel Picker, Sun produced the documentaries Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood and Corporate Power and Beyond Good and Evil: Media, Children and Violent Times (both distributed by the Media Education Foundation). She has been researching the topic of pornography since the summer of 2004. Together with Robert Wosnitzer and two other scholars, Sun designed a large-scale research project on the content of the most-rented pornographic movies of 2005. Her forthcoming book Fantasies Matter (working title) will be published by the Peter Lang Publishing Company in 2010.

MIGUEL PICKER | Producer, Director & Editor
Miguel Picker worked at WGBH-TV in Boston for over 15 years as an editor. His editing credits include La Plaza, Greater Boston Arts, and a 52-part national series titled Destinos. He also has produced and directed programs for WGBH, including Como Hacemos, Duo and The Early Music Workshop. He has produced and directed numerous independent projects as well, such as Francisco Mendez - The Portrayal of a Cuban Painter and A Day in Martha's Vineyard. Picker is also a musician and composer, and has worked with a wide range of art institutions and public foundations, including PBS, the Boston Ballet and the New England Conservatory. Picker moved to New York City in the summer of 2004, and his recent projects include editing and music composition/production for the award-winning documentary The Borinqueneers (2007), and co-directing and editing Ulises' Odyssey (2009), a documentary on Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile in 1970's and its aftermath.

ROBERT WOSNITZER | Co-writer & Associate Producer
Robert Wosnitzer is a doctoral student at New York University's Department of Media, Culture and Communication, and an adjunct instructor at NYU's Stern School of Business. He teaches courses in media, business, politics, and globalization. Prior to his academic career, Robert worked in the field of investment banking capital markets, coordinating the trading and placement of debt-related securities for over a decade. In his current research, Robert draws on critical theory to engage the dynamics of cultural and economic globalization. He is doing research on the cultural implications and patterns in relation to microfinance as a circuit of global capital, and its structuring of identity formations. Robert's research and writing also includes a large-scale content analysis study investigating aggression, authorship, and ideology within popular pornographic videos, co-authored with Drs. Chyng Sun, Erica Scharrer and Ana Bridges; critical analysis of race in the Academy-Award winning film, Crash, co-authored with Dr. Robert Jensen; constructions of race and gender in film texts; and critical media pedagogy.

Film Festivals

Press Reviews

Is Pornography a Public Health Issue?
BU Today | February 15, 2012

Porn is Gender Violence
The Martlet | October 29, 2009

The Price of Pleasure
The Feminist Review | July 24, 2009

Film, talk studies porn implications
The Register-Guard | June 2, 2009

Porn 101: Examining the Media's Exploitation of Sex
Oregon Daily Emerald | June 1, 2009

The Price of Pleasure - Porn gets a Spanking
M/C Reviews | May 10, 2009

The Price of Pleasure
The Collegian | May 4, 2009

Documentary Highlights Violence in Porn Videos
ABC News | November 20, 2008

Praise for the Film

"When we discuss pornography in my classes, we always begin with what seem to the wrong conversations -- the actress's choices; no harm, no foul; being pro-porn is just being pro-sex; men don't have to be rapists to like it -- always defensive and dishonest. I've been waiting for a film that was neither sanctimoniously scolding nor callously celebratory. And finally, there is The Price of Pleasure -- a film to help us really "see" what we have been looking at, and to enable us, finally, to talk about how pornography informs our actual lives. It's powerful, and I will use it immediately in my classes."
- Michael Kimmel | Professor of Sociology | SUNY Stony Brook

"Deeply disturbing but profoundly important."
- Jean Kilbourne | Creator, Killing Us Softly 3 | Author, So Sexy So Soon

"Most young men and women will find this the kind of provocative documentary that will stimulate constructive conversation and motivation to "do something." Every college campus and community theater should screen this film along with a facilitated discussion. Pornography is endemic, but its destructive role in so many relationships is usually invisible. By making clear why an effective response is more needed than ever, The Price of Pleasure is a vital agent for change."
- Judy Norsigian | Executive Director of Our Bodies Ourselves

"An intense, powerful documentary that will open up painful but necessary discussions about pornography's role in shaping our identities, our relationships, and our culture."
- Rebecca Whisnant | Associate Professor of Philosophy | Director of Women's and Gender Studies | University of Dayton

"With original research, footage of popular pornographic films, insights from academic experts, interviews with sex workers and even pornographers, The Price of Pleasure educates viewers about the prevalence and increasingly violent content of contemporary pornography. Advocates of sexual freedom, as well as activists committed to ending sexual exploitation against women, find common cause in Chyng Sun's compelling argument: contemporary pornographic films illustrate conventional, not deviant, attitudes about women's sexuality. Viewer alert: gazing through the pornographic worldview will turn your stomach. Eat lightly before you watch this!"
- Bernadette Barton | Associate Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies | Morehead State University | Author of Stripped: Inside the Lives of Exotic Dancers

"Sure to provoke heated discussion..."
- Video Librarian

"Abandoning the tired and often cyclical rhetoric on whether pornography is "right or wrong," The Price of Pleasure investigates the collision of pornography, sexuality, and relationships. Instead of wagging a finger at the billion dollar industry from an academic pulpit, this film features a diverse group of college students, professionals, media makers, distributors, consumers, and adult performers to expose a panoramic and dizzying look at how pornography affects our lives and relationships. ... The Price of Pleasure holds immense possibility for transformative dialogue. The questions raised are almost too difficult to hear, but once they are voiced they are too impossible to ignore."
- Lisa Factora-Borchers | Feminist Review

"The Price of Pleasure goes a long way toward explaining the headline topics and a long way toward revealing the deeper issues involved. As such, it makes a valuable contribution to clarifying the current confusion that exists around pornography in today's society."
- Susan Quilliam | Sex Education

"With the pornography industry pushing its way into the mainstream media at an alarming rate, The Price of Pleasure has been released at a critical time. The Price of Pleasure shows us what pornography is and how the pornography industry operates - up close and free of industry glorification, distortions and lies... The Price of Pleasure is a profound and significant film. It should be viewed by as many people as possible, especially parents, students, teachers, and activists committed to creating a more socially just world. The film will be eye opening to those who are learning about the pornography industry for the first time as well as those who are avid organizers against sexual exploitation."
- Garine Roubinian | Rain and Thunder

"The Price of Pleasure moves past simple arguments around free speech and instead pushes the viewer to think about the impact that consumption of hateful imagery can have in a society already steeped in rape culture. ...The film does serve as a catalyst for frank discussion about the impact of pornography and lays the foundation on which future activism can be built."
- Rachel Durchslag | Sexual Assault Report

"What makes this documentary innovative is that it incorporates two seemingly disparate ideas about the effects of porn on society. One argument is that violent porn objectifies women, leading men to become more violent and aggressive in the bedroom. The other, seemingly opposite, argument about porn that the directors Chyng Sun and Miguel Picker also make is that because porn desensitizes men from realistic expectations about what sex with women feels like, men become less interested in the real thing, are experiencing more anxiety around their sexuality, and are less able to orgasm and enjoy sex with real women. ...What makes the Price of Pleasure effective but also disturbing is its unabashed examination of the pornographic images themselves, and the direct line they draw between profit, the degradation of women, and our views on sexuality in general."
- Leeat Granek | Films for the Feminist Classroom

"...[P]rovides a compelling argument, from a leftist perspective, that culturally pervasive pornography is detrimental to interpersonal sexual relationships... Showing this documentary in a classroom setting is almost sure to provoke a lively discussion."
- Donald Palumbo | The Journal of American Culture

- Educational Media Reviews Online

"I found this documentary to be an extremely useful teaching tool in my graduate-level course on sexual violence. Students had a range of strong reactions to the material, and it inspired lots of thoughtful discussion. I would absolutely recommend using it for educational purposes."
- Emily F. Rothman, ScD | Boston University School of Public Health

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