"Girlfriend Experience" and Escort Review

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Marauder69
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I’ve recently managed to catch Steven Soderbergh’s latest foray into “experimental” cinema, Girlfriend Experience. The film is a matter-of-fact character study of a Manhattan escort played by self-proclaimed existential porn star, Sasha Grey. It is an interesting discussion generator, not only for those practicing the hobby but also for those with an interest in the “real life” exploits of a sex worker (i.e. everyone).

While Girlfriend Experience is hardy blockbuster material, Soderbergh’s celebrity guarantees that a significant number of people will check out the picture (I mean, he did direct the Ocean’s 11 movies). Because of this, it can be argued that this film will serve as an educational example, for the "common" person, of what the hobby is really like.

So what does Girlfriend Experience say about online erotic review communities? They are a despicable group of sleazebags.

Girlfriend Experience chooses to use the character of “The Erotic Connoisseur”, brilliantly played by film critic Glenn Kenny, to symbolize both the review writer and the erotic review business. The Connoisseur is a hideous creature who invites the main character to his pad and promises her a positive review, and future opportunities to enhance her income, in return for sexual favors. Spouting lines like “it sounds like white slavery, but it’s not…” when discussing a potential opportunity for the escort in Dubai, it’s obvious that this character is meant to exemplify a very negative aspect of the sex work industry.

The film’s writers, Brian Koppelman and David Levien, clearly did some research on the negative press escort review has received in the past few years – with the reputation of TER founder Dave Elms, who allegedly not only coerced women to have unprotected sex with him in return for good reviews, but who also has had numerous criminal charges leveled against him – it’s clear that the escort review space, like the sex industry in general, is far from a perfect business. (What industry is “perfect” anyway…?)

The film appears to examine the daily life of an escort without overtly passing judgment, having the character treat her vocation as the business it is: taking meetings with website designers who offer to improve her web presence and engaging in discussions about future investment opportunities with her accountant. While the film certainly explores the emotional downside that an escort may have to deal with, it does not offer a scathing opinion of the escort lifestyle. So why such a one-sided depiction of escort review?

It’s understandable that this dark representation of adult review exists to further the plot, but the reality of escort review communities is quite different from what Girlfriend Experience implies.

Escort review is the yelp of the hobbyist community. Sites like yelp empower the consumer to enhance or destroy the reputation of a product or service by offering a place for the consumer to publish their reviews of the product or service. As more reviews are written about a particular business (a restaurant, a physician, etc.), a mosaic of the overall quality of the business is formed from the numerous reviews. This way of rating businesses is regarded as very effective by a large number of online users, and yelp continues to thrive as a highly trusted information gathering station.

Yelp is sometimes accused of unfairly featuring certain business in return for advertising dollars, and yelp’s review writers are occasionally attacked for “faking” reviews about a business (many reviewers are accused of being the business owners themselves). This is an expected side effect of the peer review system and it is a downside that won’t go away anytime soon. But this negative aspect of the model far from negates the massive win for consumers using such platforms: the reality that peer review puts the power in the hands of the consumer and allows the customer to publicly discuss the quality of a product. In essence, the consumer becomes the most trusted advertiser and therefore forces businesses to cater to the needs of the empowered consumer.

This advantage carries over to escort peer review communities. Sex work is a business and the clients of escorts are consumers. The vast majority of review writers are not sleaze bags looking for a freebie, but concerned customers seeking to help their fellows choose a superior product. Peer review is a concept which is here to stay - and that holds true for the adult industry.

Hopefully, someday soon sex work will be regulated and legalized across the globe. It’s important that viewers of escort-themed media understand that the way much of the business is presented by media creators is not necessarily accurate. Having “The Erotic Connoisseur” represent the escort review writing community is the equivalent of having John Wayne Gacy represent the clown community.

HardAsSteel
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Good read. I guess I'm a bit out of the loop because I didn't know that movie was coming out. Interesting that they dedicate a part of the film to talk about Mr. TER scumbag himself.

SciFiWriterX
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Interesting perspective. I downloaded this too (not from Amazon LOL).

I think you may be overreacting to the whole "erotic connoisseur" character. He's just a character in a movie...

I guess it would be unnerving if you accept that he represents all guys who use review sites...I choose not to accept that. Cool

madmandon
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It’s funny that you mention “many reviewers are accused of being the business owners themselves”…I have noticed that there are a lot of suspicious reviews on several hobbyist sites, where it’s pretty obvious that the review was likely written by the provider herself. So the system is definitely not perfect, but it’s the best system we got!

Roxxoff
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I was actually delighted by this film. It was a bit flat, but otherwise much better than I expected...Sadly, there is no sex in the movie - so all you guys looking to see some Sasha Grey action will have to look elsewhere .

(you won't have to look far...)

HardAsSteel
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Roxxoff wrote:

I was actually delighted by this film. It was a bit flat, but otherwise much better than I expected...Sadly, there is no sex in the movie - so all you guys looking to see some Sasha Grey action will have to look elsewhere .

(you won't have to look far...)

What a perfect ass..damn! I heard there was no sex in the movie so I was thinking of watching it side by side with one of her other more "interesting" flicks.

JohnJohn
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I admittedly haven't seen it yet and while the idea of a mainstream movie coming out about the hobby is intriguing, I think I'm going to pass on this one. I doubt that he movie will be able to capture the reality of the hobby. Reading forums like this and being an active hobbyist will probably just make me pick out all the errors which I'm sure it is full of...kind of like watching a movie after you've read the book.

BigBilly
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Sasha Grey is one hot woman but she's not much of an actress. She should really stick to get her pretty little face stuffed in my opinion. Don't bother seeing Girlfriend experience when this is soooooo much better:
http://www.youporn.com/watch/304657/sasha-grey-bctt-interracial/

billyboinger
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man she looks good in that video. It's always a special turn on being able to watch someone in a main stream movie and then watch them get their brains fucked out in a hard core porn:D