Mums Make Porn: Tantalising smut meets social responsibility

Channel 4 – who else? – asks concerned parents to make porn they can be proud of

Amateur film-makers Emma, Anita, Sarah and Sarah-Louise

Amateur film-makers Emma, Anita, Sarah and Sarah-Louise

 

The late comedian Jeremy Hardy once addressed the problem of widely accessible hardcore pornography and its distorting effect on the sexuality of young people.

“How to create erotica that isn’t demeaning and objectifying towards women?” he wondered. “You could have erotic films about couples who care about each other, and do it in the afternoon because they’re on holiday and it’s nice not to be tired for a change.”

For some of the participants in Mums Make Porn (Channel 4, Wednesday, 9pm) that might be an ideal scenario, if a little too racy for their tastes. Following the principle “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, this two-part series has five British mothers convene to investigate the variety of pornography out there, huddled over a laptop with tea and scones, then brainstorm their own scenarios, attend a few filmings and finally produce a scene they can be proud of.

“It would be nice to be involved in something I would be happy about my children seeing,” says Emma, with the upbeat maternal spirit and complete obliviousness to interpretation that could immediately quash worldwide porn addiction.

The participating mothers run the gamut from a Malaysian-born Christian, Jane, who has never seen porn (“Close up shots of genitalia,” she frowns over her reading glasses, “why?”) to porn connoisseur Anita who pitches, “an orgy where there’s triple-penetration with consent”.

Are the mothers all aware of what they are agreeing to, though? Jane, for instance, is shaky as a leaf at the prospect of pitching erotic fantasies or watching live sex, while their mum-sanctioned erotica can only be a drop in the ocean of increasingly ugly and fetishistic product.

“Step brother f**ks sister while sleeping,” one distressed mother, Sarah, reads among the clips on a mainstream porn platform, eventually breaking down over another: “Girl gets raped.”

Mums Make Porn seems like the quintessential Channel 4 programme, with its careful lattice of social responsibility and post-watershed titillation. But just as rather wholesome pornstars encourage the mothers to think about putting narrative in their smut, their skin flick is itself a kind of plot MacGuffin.

After her upset, Sarah is moved to have a frank conversation with her 16-year-old daughter about the girl’s understanding of porn, and her take is more reassuring: aware of the difference between reality and distortion, alive to the pressures it brings.

In fact, among several teenagers interviewed, the girls display steadfast critical skills. The boys, sadly, do not. When it comes to the internet, they all report, it’s easy to get around parental controls. This doesn’t bode well for the eventual film, which embeds parental control into porn production.

But if it helps to initiate some awkward, productive conversations between parents and their adolescent children about the vast gulf between porn and intimate behaviour, Mums Make Porn is something you’d be happy for your kids to see.

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