A Review of Money Shot: The Pornhub Story

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Title screen: Money Shot: The Pornhub Story

Netflix is now offering a brand new documentary which tracks recent developments in the pornography industry and the efforts to regulate it and hold it accountable for at least some of its most egregious injuries, at least those visited upon the lives of the under-age victims of its sexual exploitation. 

This full length documentary includes on camera interviews with 'independent' porn performers, a spokesperson for the Free Speech Coalition, a porn industry lobby front group, but also with advocates from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the Trafficking Hub campaign, the New York Times reporter responsible for the 2020 "Children of PornHub" article and the attorney who brought the racketeering case, Serena Fleites et al v. Mindgeek (Pornhub's parent company) et al. It also includes footage from the 2021 hearings held in Ottawa by the Canadian Parliament featuring the subpoenaed testimony of the owners and C-suite officers of Mindgeek, as well as Ms. Fleites and her attorney.

This film spends time examining the stories of the under age girls featured in the TraffickingHub-dot-org campaign, their success denying PornHub access to the credit card processors, and the removal of all content uploaded anonymously. This film asserts that losing mastercard/visa/amex served to demonetize the hosted content adversely impacting the performers disproportionately and driving them to studio work, OnlyFans and other platforms, without touching the revenue streams generated by advertising on the platform which is responsible for the bulk of the the corporate profits.  Those profits were an estimated $460 million in the preceding year, or so claimed a Member of the Canadian Parliament, whose direct questions of the company's owner was dodged and avoided in the hearing. 

[[ This author's own research on the subject found that in 2018 the industry was worth $100 Billion in annual revenue, and that globally most pornography production and distribution has been consolidated by Mindgeek under monopoly control.  ]]

Film viewers hear from both a whistle blower and the NCOSE spokeswoman about the limitations of the MindGeek content moderation practices, where a small staff (of thirty) were expected to review as many as 1000 pornographic videos each in an eight hour shift, audio off and fast forwarding through the material. They would take a guess at the age of the young women in these videos.

The NCOSE spokesperson explained how PornHub manages to profit even from those videos replaced with a message: "Video has been removed at the request of NCMEC." She also discussed the whack-a-mole game played chasing a single child porn video as it would be re-uploaded by anonymous users across multiple platforms.

We hear from the various perspectives of its interview subjects on the passage and impact of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act / Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (FOSTA-SESTA). The film explores this legislation, giving its sympathetic hearing to the performers with their industry talking points as well as allowing us to hear from the women advocating for the interests of trafficked women and children about the importance of the legislation.

Not heard in this film are the voices of the 89% of prostituted women which the research tells us want to get out of the industry, the young women supervised by pimps and other traffickers, the ones who can not be trusted to convey the industry's talking points, but the ones for whom 50% of them tell us they were used against their wills in the production of pornography. 

Its a well made film which managed to bring to light new information even for this author who has both read extensively, written and educated others about the pornography industry for the past five years.  This film largely shills for an exploitative industry; and in the absence of the context of a more complete understanding of the pornography industry it would be easy to embrace its pro 'sex-work' narrative, supporting policies promoted by these industry spokespeople while ignoring the shattered lives these producers hide from view, particularly the survivors of the industry who might have given us a more complete perspective on the subject this film obfuscates. 

Money Shot: The Pornhub Story (2023) is streaming on netflix. 


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Gender Critical Greens PAC
Anita Stewart, Treasurer
P.O. Box 1641
Zephyrhills Florida 33539
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FEC # C00771618