After Porn Ends (2010)

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Yet again, we have a documentary that pretty much intends to shed a light on the porn industry that hasn’t been seen before. It depicts the industry as anything other than fantastic and filled with raunchy sex. Director Bryce Wagoner’s “After Porn Ends” seems on a mission to show the human side of porn stars, and how many have fared after they’ve left behind the industry. But once you’ve finished “After Porn Ends,” not only will you have a new insight on the industry, but you’ll likely want to burn every pornographic film you’ve ever seen, and follow it up with a bullet to the head.

“After Porn Ends” doesn’t explicitly state it, but it is a movie intended to show how horrible the industry can make a person’s life. It explores the common thought process of chastising porn stars for taking up a career that involves filming sex for entertainment purposes, and yet it practices the same negative traits of society through and through. The film can never be sure if mocking a woman for being a porn star is a positive or negative trait of society. Often times, it wants to depict society as archaic for looking down on a woman for expressing herself sexually, and yet spends half of the film practicing this ritual. It even patronizes the porn stars that have managed to retire and have found new incredible lives.

It commonly shuns the more beautiful of porn stars, and plays heavily on the tortured lives of past porn stars that left behind the business. When it does take a moment to explore the more successful attributes of the job, its tricky editing lends a questionable credibility to the subject at hand. Though there’s no one to outright state it, even the more level headed and intelligent individuals like the respected sexual expert Nina Hartley is depicted as somewhat of a deluded nymphomaniac. Meanwhile the strong proponent for being a porn star, Mary Carey, often comes off as moronic, and narrow minded with looks at her faux campaign for president and her roles in B movies, and follows up her life story with her twisted relationship with an abusive husband of hers.

Most often the camera seems to want to show the vast difference between male and female porn stars, so “After Porn Ends” tends to show that the female stars that left behind the business as more wash outs and shells of their former selves. The men, on the other hand, are typically sex hungry and slimy. One male porn star’s recollection of his three way with a very young Jenna Jameson comes off as gross as he fondly recalls the experience with a wide grin. Asia Carrera is a woman who has decided to devote most of her life to her children and there’s always more a tragic bent on her life than her purpose as a mother. Another porn star who has become somewhat of a Christian fanatic is also depicted as a tragic individual who breaks in to tears at the mere mention of her religious devotion.

Beyond being twenty minutes too long, “After Porn Ends” is an utterly grim and depressing documentary. What begins as a look behind the fantasy of pornography instantly turns in to a ninety minute excuse to look down at all forms of pornographic stars, even those wise enough to leave it all behind and look for something more.  A patronizing and utterly depressing look at the pornographic industry, “After Porn Ends” sets itself up as a look at the fantasy bringers who ended up being humans when the camera stops rolling, and then transforms in to a ninety minute excuse to look down at folks who once made millions out of having sex on film, especially those smart enough to retire and look for other greener pastures.

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