I’ve heard it said that we leave high school, but nothing ever really changes. The adult world can be just as cliquey, just as popularity driven as the hallways we wandered as teenagers. In a world constructed for popularity, it can feel really important to do what everyone else is doing, and abstaining from pornography does not always feel like the popular thing to do. Society has risen up to shield the industry and make it seem as though watching porn is nothing but a harmless pastime, and in doing so, presents it as an activity that all of the “cool kids” are partaking in. Arguably, if society is a giant high school, the “cool kids” are bound to be celebrities, and thankfully, many of them are actively speaking out against pornography.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I feel like I’ve been watching Joseph Gordon-Levitt for most of my life, from his days on Third Rock from the Sun to his more recent film debuts, and he always delivers. When his film Don Juan was being advertised as a flick about a guy and his porn collection, an amazing thing happened: he said that the intention of film was to explore how people treat other people like objects and to explore the media’s role in that. Suddenly, JGL was even more intriguing than he was before. A quick hop on Fight the New Drug’s webpage details his crusade a little more, showcasing a man who is tired of society’s crumbling ability to connect with each other because of their dependence on pornography.
- Terry Crews. The epitome of the traditional topical definition of ‘manly’, the former NFL star turned actor shocked the nation in 2016 when he posted his “Dirty Little Secret” videos on Facebook and publicly owned up to his pornography addiction, throwing his hat in the ring against it. Since then, he’s been open about how pornography almost destroyed his three-decade long marriage to everyone from CNN, Men’s Fitness, and, of course, Fight the New Drug. His message is powerful, but it’s not unique: porn causes you to treat people, even ones you love, like objects. Even a thirty-year marriage isn’t immune.
- Russell Brand. My first experience with Russell Brand was when he played the very, very sexually open Aldous Snow in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”. Given the misguided notion that being anti-porn is the same thing as anti-sex, most people wouldn’t peg a guy who would take a role as a promiscuous party boy as holding a stance against pornography, and yet, he does. I stumbled on a video of him talking about pornography on Youtube a year or so ago, and I was surprised with the amount of evidence he had prepared to highlight the harmful effects of pornography. He has followed the initial video up with a lot more, and he makes a really compelling case against pornography, citing the inability to have a connected, meaningful relationship while using.
- Rashida Jones. Ann Perkins, RN does her feminist best friend Leslie Knope proud with her campaign against pornography. Rashida’s point is especially important because as a woman not connected to the porn industry in any way, she is in a unique position to dispel a particularly pervasive pro-porn rumor: that it is empowering for women to do porn. In response to the question of empowerment, Jones says that people think it’s empowering because they’re making money (if they are even being paid), but asks what is “the real cost to your soul, to your psyche?” In the same article, she is also quick to point out what is brought up by at least one of the girls in the documentary she produced about the pornography industry, Hot Girls Wanted, which is that “it’s fulfilling a male fantasy. It’s not about how you feel about it,” and seriously, how can that be construed as empowering?
- Pamela Anderson. Pamela Anderson is just one of many women who have firsthand experience in the sex industry and have come out against it in the last few years. Anderson, of course, is best known as a Baywatch star and Playboy model, but she also had an infamous sex tape with Tommy Lee. In 2016, the woman who is remembered fondly by many as a montage of scenes running on the beach wrote an article with a Rabbi about how pornography is damaging our society. The article focuses on family life and destroyed marriages, pointing a long finger at pornography as a source of domestic turmoil.
In this world, we all strive to be well liked, to be cool. We search for common ground with people because we have an innate need to be understood, and what is more common than the basic biological drive for sex? Porn isn’t about sex though. It’s about power, shame, and degradation. If we really want to be well-liked, we should stay away from porn. For some of us, that’s a much harder struggle than others, but as these celebrities have realized, real love is worth it.