Porn parody is a genre of mainstream pornography that adapts popular films, TV shows and comic books. While not new in the adult industry by any means, porn parodies are top-selling titles, and are seen as a strategy for keeping the industry afloat amidst a flagging DVD market. Sharon Marie Ross points out that teen TV producers are increasingly invested in engaging online communities. Porn producers are no exception. Top parody director Axel Braun describes himself as an expert and a fan of most of the texts he parodies. Braun explicitly names “geeks” as an important target audience because of their power to “literally make or break a movie” through social media networking.
Given that teen TV shows often have large online fan-bases with a strong interest in sexuality, a popular show like Glee would seem like the ideal text for parody. However, in catering to both the imagined mainstream adult film and Glee fan audiences, Braun’s This Ain’t Glee XXX (2010) has the potential to alienate gleeks by excluding fan favorites including white male homosexual character Kurt, plus-size black female favorite Mercedes, and Artie, a white male in a wheelchair.
This Ain’t Glee: XXX may appeal to gleeks by picking up on many of the salient details of Glee’s set design and musical numbers. Perhaps most notable are Braun’s raunchy re-writings of Glee’s best-selling songs from the first season: Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Although a character approximating Mercedes sings a duet in the trailer, she is not featured in any of the sex scenes. Kurt and Artie do not appear at all. In line with mainstream adult industry conventions—which exclude male homosexuality and "fetish" subjects such as black BBWs and white straight men with disabilities—this parody may fail to appeal to the hardcore fans that Braun is so eager to activate. As television, and particularly teen television, becomes more inclusive of what is still considered in mainstream adult film to be “fetish,” these omissions point to blind spots in the mainstream adult industry, not only about what is possible in general, but about the potential audience for porn parody in particular. Moreover, the potential miscalculation of what gleeks may want to see in a parody emphasizes the difficulty media industries producers face in targeting hardcore fans as elite consumers.
Rachel, Thanks for the post. I honestly had never considered the possibility of Glee porn parody, though your point that the porn does not advance Glee's genuine commitment to diversity is fascinating. Broadly, is there much diversity in porn, or does it tend to be highly segregated, organized into niche interests, particular fetishes? Do you mean to argue that there is overlap between the audience for Glee and the audience for porn parodies of Glee? Considering Ryan Murphy's other programs, I could certainly see a more logical overlap there, but Glee presents itself as so wholesome, with its "Gleek" of the week and over-earnest efforts to overcome difference. Without any knowledge about this topic, I'd assume fans of porn parodies of Glee would be anti-fans--people interested to see the program's squeaky clean image tarnished. Does the web enable (or inspire) a more fluid movement between these types of programs?
Rachel—This is such a
Rachel--This is such a fascinating post! (Not to mention an unsettling video.) I watched the video before reading your post, and I too noticed the exclusion of Kurt and Blaine, which I found especially striking because they're the subject of so much fan-authored porn. I could tell that this video was made with a gleek-eye to detail, but minus the penchant for critique often on display within Glee fandom; that is, it replicates rather than critiques the marginalization/othering of Tina and Mercedes often perpetuated by the plot, and compounds it with an exoticization. But then the fact that it completely removed Kurt and Blaine (and Santana and Brittany) and Artie and Puck (the list goes on!) does suggest a basic incongruity between the imagined audiences of the two texts (Glee and the parody...) This Ain't Glee does point to the dimensions of sexualized spectacle already at work in Glee... yet Glee invites a female and queer audience, and this video, with its Hustler frame, seems to primarily have the straight male gaze in mind. Have you looked into the reception/circulation of this video?
Fascinating that this exists!
Fascinating that this exists! Do you have any idea idea how Ryan Murphy or other Glee people feel about the porn parody?
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