"Hardcore" Documentary -- About pornographer Max Hardcore -- by director Stephen Walker
WARNING: This is a VERY graphic and disturbing documentary that tells the hard-core truth about the abuse that goes on in the pornography industry. It follows the journey of a young British single mother, Felicity, through her brief but brutally devastating time working in the the hard-core pornography industry in Los Angeles, California. It includes footage of Felicity filming a scene with the notoriously abusive and manipulative pornographer Max Hardcore. (Who went to prison for his extreme porn, but is now out.)
For more information about this documentary, scroll down below the videos to several reviews and articles.
Please proceed with caution and DO NOT watch this documentary if you are under the age of 18 or are very sensitive or easily upset by extremely graphic and disturbing content.
-- UK Independent article describing the director's extremely unsettling experience in filming the documentary.
"At first sight, Hardcore, a documentary about a young woman trying to break into the porn industry in Los Angeles, would seem to be just the latest contribution to this useful television genre. It turns out to be something quite different a documentary in which the innocence of the subject and the innocence of the film-maker crumble in tandem in front of your eyes. The result is both explicit and numbing a film about commercial titillation which ultimately leaves you limp with disgust."
"(Walker) "The fact was that I hated it. I found it depressing and numbing and totally unerotic. I was prepared to find that I found it extremely erotic and quite interesting. But the truth is that having been on about 26 porn sets, it felt like being in the bottom of a lavatory bowl after a while." The metaphor isn't entirely surprising, given the first job that Felicity secures a session of still photographs which required her to straddle a bucket and pee for the camera or the almost obsessional emphasis on anal sex among her potential employers."
-- London Evening Standard article written by filmmaker Stephen Walker about his ethical challenges in filming a documentary about the abusive pornography industry.
"My first experience of a porn set was, to say the least, unsettling. Richard had brought Felicity to watch a gang-bang movie. Ten men were having sex with one girl in a wrestling ring. The overwhelming impression was the stench: of bodies, of sweat, of various other excretions. It was a revolting spectacle, about as erotic as a butcher's shop. It was also, for obvious reasons, almost impossible to film. The best I could come up with was to concentrate on the litter of spent tissues on the floor. That, and the expression on Felicity's face, as she saw, for the first time, just what it was she'd got herself into.
But this was only the beginning. After a week, I'd seen just about everything. I felt sick. What do you do when a producer shows you snapshots of his wife and kids before filming a simulated rape scene? How do you cope when a director tells you he is running for mayor in his home town and then boasts that his movies make Belsen look like a picnic? The fact is, you don't. Trapped between your responsibilities as a professional film-maker and your sensibilities as a human being, you only hope that somewhere in your film there's a truth that needs to be told."
-- A feminist perspective on the film, written by Catherine Redfern.
"The maker of the documentary, Stephen Walker, did not have any agenda or secret opposition to porn. In fact, he intended to make a light-hearted film. Nevertheless, what emerged as Felicity was dragged deeper into the industry, was a deeply disturbing and degrading world. The agent, Richard, behaved as little more than a pimp, parading her around like a prize possession, constantly pressuring her to do things she had said she categorically did not want to do; and getting very angry with her when she continued to refuse. It became clear that if he persuaded her to do the more hardcore, disturbing stuff, he would get more money. It was obvious that he didn’t care for her sanity or her physical welfare, constantly pushing and nagging her to go further, introducing her to more and more hardcore film makers."
"The film exposed an industry run by men for men, in which women are to be abused, physically hurt and degraded, simply objects objects to be used, and offered no support whatsoever from the people who aimed to make money from their hard work. This was anything but empowering and light-hearted. If this is how certain sections of the porn industry really work, they are abusive, demeaning, harmful, sickening beyond belief, and I absolutely loathe it. And if saying that makes me some kind of radical, then so be it."
-- Guardian UK article: "In the first part of a three-day series on feminism, Katharine Viner asks how liberating these 'freedoms' (that modern women in the UK currently have) really are - and says it's time we stopped being so complacent."
"Large sections of the porn industry now make no pretence of representing healthy sexuality, the 1970s playboy cliche - its huge- selling stock-in-trade is the degradation of women. Even pro-porn campaigner and actress Nina Hartley has admitted this: "You're seeing more of these videos of women getting dragged on their faces, and spit (sic) on, and having their heads dunked in the toilet.""
"A devastating documentary investigating this new porn, Hardcore, was shown on Channel 4 last year. Director Stephen Walker followed a 25-year-old single mother, Felicity, to Los Angeles, where she wanted to be a porn actress. At the beginning of the trip, Felicity was bright, lively and certain about what she would not do (anal or group sex). She was taken by her "agent", Richard, to visit Max Hardcore, a hugely successful porn impresario who specialises in getting his actresses to dress in young girls' clothing, spitting and urinating on them, choking, gagging and inserting speculums into their vaginas and anuses and widening them to extreme degrees. She fled from the set when Hardcore forced his penis down her throat and started to suffocate her. Later, she took part in a sexually violent film directed by another successful industry figure who boasted that his movies "make Belsen (Nazi concentration camp) look like a picnic"."
-- A review of "Hardcore" documentary by blogger TruthVsCompliance (Excerpt)
Felicity responds, (to pornographer Max Hardcore), “I’ve been terrified since the minute I walked in here, before I even fucking met you.” She’s still sobbing at this point and he starts to stroke her hair.
He says firmly at this point, “Get a grip now, come on.” as he’s still stroking her hair and then rubs her shoulder a little bit.
She says, “I won’t get a grip until I am home, nothing you are going to talk about is going to change my mind.”
Max gets clearly annoyed with this comment and says, “You’re sounding like a little school girl now. Find a way to win, not a way to lose.” As he says this, she gets up from next to him to get a tissue from the bathroom.
A switch goes off in Max and he’s getting angry now. He says to her, “Baby, I don’t appreciate your fuckin effort. I’ll be honest with you, I do not appreciate your fuckin effort on the job. Instead of fuckin talking to us and treating us like reasonable human being, you just fuck it up and quit, when I rushed my ass back here, I got shit to do in case you don’t know, I got shit to do, I got stuff to do. All those guys, my two guys down there. I’ve got one guy from fucking Malibu over here. He drived like fuckin, you know, 100 miles to get the fuck over here to do this fucking scene for you and I don’t appreciate your fuckin effort. You know, instead you didn’t even try, your fucking, you fucking…” At this point, Max begins to stumble over his words he’s so annoyed with her for not submitting to his will. He continues, “This is just…eh me, you talk about ME, the scenes disgusting, You disgust ME and your fuckin’, tiny little effort. Baby I’ve done over fucking 500 fucking movies, only seen one other girl with less effort than you put forth less effort, less willing to fucking do anything to do the fucking job. One fucking scene and I have done 1158 fuckin scenes. I’ve had one fucking girl walk off the set. You’re a fuckin’ loser, you put no fuckin’ effort into this. Okay, somewhere she says fine, say something, but NO you don’t say fuckin’ nothing. You just jump the fuck up and quit. Fuck that.”
The camera cuts out and the Stephen explains that Felicity agreed to finish the set after this. He explains that it was clear that Felicity could no longer decide for herself after Max’s reaction to her. Where there had been consent before, it was clearly gone now. Five minutes later Stephen and his crew grabbed up Felicity and got the hell out of there.
After dealing with Max, Stephen fully expects Felicity to head home but she decides to go back to Extreme Studios and works as a “fluffer” for the gang bang video the very next day. He tries to talk to her about what had happened with Max Hardcore and she’s reluctant to discuss it. She explains that she had hardly slept the night before – that she had woke up every hour, on the hour. Her only comment at this point is, “It’s not pleasant being suffocated.
Stephen decides to talk to Richard about it, he asks Richard, “Do you regret taking her to see Max Hardcore?”
Richard responds, “No, because it discovered her limits early on.”
Stephen says, “Do you think it was good education for her?”
Richard says, “Yeah, she knows how bad things can be and she seems better off today.”
Stephen says, “It gets easier?”
Richard says, “Everything gets easier the more you do it.”
Stephen says after interviewing Richard, “I noticed something increasingly disturbing about Felicity’s behavior. As if the experiences of last night have changed her. As if the shock has somehow dislocated her from herself.” He explains how her experiences with Max hardcore seem to have opened a door for her to do anything. It almost seems like this was Richards intent when he brought her to see Max Hardcore. Like he knew that if she dealt with the worst of the worst – she would find anything easier – including anal and other abusive porn.
The next pornographer they tape Felicity interviewing with – she says she’ll do anal scenes, even though she was very against it before. She is tolerable of abusive sex now, she’s willing to do abusive porn with these pornographers, nothing seems off-limits to her now. This particular porn she is going to shoot in involves on man “roughing” up three women during sex.
Stephen wonders why she will suddenly do abusive porn. This particular pornographer refuses to have his face taped during the documentary. Stephen asks the pornographer why he won’t have his face taped. The pornographer explains that he lives a double life, while his family knows he makes porn – they don’t know how abusive the porn he produces is. He says, “I don’t say, “yeah I climb up on the roof and I choke a girl into unconsciousness” well because it is shameful for godsake.”
Stephen asks, “So why do you do it?”
He responds, “It’s as exciting as hell, it’s better then taking drugs.”
Stephen then asks, “How do you justify doing this, it’s degrading, isn’t it?
He says, “It’s an expression of romance, it’s an expression of love.”
The film goes back to recording Felicity, apparently after the shoot and she discusses more about her father. After she found out who he was, they connected for a while but it fizzled out and he stopped caring about her. She explains that she wants her father to see what she is doing for work, to see her in porn, she wants to prove to him that she exists. She seems to take pride in the fact that he can’t do anything about it or have an opinion about it. It seems like she is doing porn out of revenge because she wanted to be daddy’s little girl and was never given the opportunity.
When Felicity went home, she told her mother what she had really been doing for work. Her mother was disappointed but told Felicity that she would always love her, no matter what she did. Felicity then discusses how she would feel the same way if her daughter starting making porn. She doesn’t want her daughter to do it, but that she’d also still love her daughter no matter what.
After leaving the states, Felicity quit the porn business and became a cocktail waitress.
I just have to say that in this one documentary, there are a lot of different examples of coercion. They use money to persuade her to do things she didn’t want to do before. They insist that she can handle doing things, and that she isn’t doing them because she hasn’t done them enough. They use guilt, shame and they compare her to other women to trick her into doing things she is not comfortable with. I just want people to think – is this the norm in the industry? How do you know the women in the porn you watch have not experienced these same techniques of manipulation? How do you know for sure that it is consensual? Is this really a glamorous job? Is becoming a porn star even at all really possible? Should we join this type of work with words like “empowering” “free”? I think not.
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