The Shrinking Public Square
- First of all, Dacia tried last month to open an account at Citibank for her business, Waking Vixen Productions. After filling out the preliminary paperwork, she received a voicemail delicately informing her that her line of business made them unable to take her account.
- Then, early this month, she got a similar notice from iTunes, notifying her that her podcast, Live Girl Review, could no longer be included in their directory. ITunes was less direct than Citibank, saying only that podcasts could be excluded "for a variety of reasons." On checking out their podcast spec sheet, she found "strong prevalence of sexual content" included among the possible reasons that Apple can kick you to the curb.
- And just last week, Google yanked her Google Checkout account, barely twenty-four hours after she'd put her new short film The Love Machine up for sale. According to the e-mail Google sent Dacia, "the products or services [she's] selling on [her] website are considered ‘Restricted’ per our policy- Adult goods and services."
The irony is that such policies don't hinder the people who make the majority of the stuff that really pisses off the anti-porn crowd. Do you really think that Vivid's income is hindered one bit by not being able to use a Google account? Does Larry Flynt lose sleep over the fact over Apple's policies about listing adult podcasts? Not one bit. Their size and financial resources allow them to either take a small detour to distribute their goods and collect payments through other means, or just roll right over them like a big rig facing down a turtle standing in the middle of the highway. The people they inconvenience are those for whom sexual expression is personal and artistic, who are trying to create things that reflect their own lives and desires, not a corporate product.
In short, these policies preserve the status quo. They guarantee that sexuality continues to be represented within smotheringly narrow limits dominated by bleach jobs, silicone tits, and cum shots performed by actors who are seen as old news when they hit 25, and the availability of genuinely imaginative works like Love Machine and Live Girl Review shrinks that much more. For years, we've heard about the near-mystical virtues of a "free market," and we keep on finding out that it's not that free; the Internet was sold to us as an "information superhighway," only to discover how easily toll booths and road blocks can be built, rendering it as mobile as the 405 near West Hollywood on a Friday afternoon. The smaller our public space becomes, the more restricted the channels for distribution come, the more we're reduced to passive listeners with no voice of our own.