Money Shot: A Journey into Porn and Censorship

Jeff Sparrow

Money Shot: A Journey into Porn and Censorship
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Money Shot: A Journey into Porn and Censorship

Jeff Sparrow

Money Shot: A Journey into Porn and Censorship focuses on the ‘hot button’ issues in the censorship debate today, from the implications of the internet revolution to arguments about ‘raunch culture’ and its effects.

In the best traditions of literary non-fiction, Sparrow immerses himself in the topic, undertaking a course in how to censor, visiting imprisoned pornographers, or attending church services for born-again virgins. He also interviews key players in the debate (representatives of the Classification Board, the Eros Foundation, Electronic Frontiers Australia, the Australian Christian Lobby) and interacts with those at the coal-face of the debates, from morals crusaders to sex workers, from vice cops to terrorists. This book also significantly broadens the scope of the current discussion. It suggests that both pornography and censorship need to be understood alongside thirty years of neoliberalism, a doctrine that has transformed how we see both the state and ourselves.

Importantly, Money Shot also argues that many of the issues raised by censorship and pornography manifest themselves in other contemporary political controversies, from the war on terror to the Northern Territory Intervention.

Review

Money Shot is one of the most thought-provoking, intelligent and entertaining non-fiction books I’ve read in a long time.

Jeff Sparrow, editor of Overland and co-author of Radical Melbourne, has quite literally taken a journey into porn and censorship in Australia. As well as interviewing commentators on all sides of the debate, Sparrow visits a sex cinema, attends Sexpo, completes a crash course in censorship and heads up north to try and understand how the issues have manifested themselves as a result of the Northern Territory Intervention.

He critically looks at the argument that the lucrative pornography market of today is a positive outcome of the sexual revolution, and his thoughts here offer fascinating insight into the neoliberal transformation of our society more generally.

Sparrow reminds us that for the sexual revolutionaries of yesteryear, sexuality was not circumscribed by consumption. And after a couple of trips to Sexpo he is left in no doubt about the increasing marketisation of sexuality and the male orientation of the industry.

‘In contemporary society, vast inequality has been utterly normalised … amid such gross final disparities, why would anyone expect sexual egalitarianism?’

The book left me curious about how the immense popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, which has been labelled by some as pornography for women but has a chauvinistic male lead, might fit in to the debate (admittedly not curious enough to actually read the book). There are no easy answers in Money Shot and the debate is far from one sided so I would urge anyone, regardless of their standpoint on these issues, to read this insightful and comprehensive analysis.


Kara Nicholson is currently completing a masters in environmental studies and spends her time reading novels to avoid doing any of the actual study part. Her favourite book of all time is George Eliot’s Middlemarch and she urges anyone who hasn’t to read it to do so immediately.

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