Ways of showing it

Feature and gonzo in mainstream pornography

Authored by: Federico Zecca

The Routledge Companion to Media, Sex and Sexuality

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138777217
eBook ISBN: 9781315168302
Adobe ISBN:


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Fifteen years ago, Martin Amis (2001) stated that ‘there are … two types of mainstream American pornography: features and gonzo’. Amis described features as ‘sex films with some sort of claim to the ordinary narrative: characterisation, storyline’, and gonzo as a kind of porn that ‘shows people fucking without concerning itself with why they’re fucking’ (ibid.). Since Amis wrote this article, many significant changes have occurred in the US adult business: the sharp decline of DVD sales and rentals, once the industry’s biggest source of revenue; the rapid growth of Web 2.0 as the main delivery channel for porn materials; the emergence of a new generation of ‘independent’ porn professionals; the huge proliferation of alternative and sub-cultural pornographies; the implementation of new laws regulating porn production. Yet feature and gonzo still continue to be the two main types of mainstream American pornography, making up the largest part of the overall market and employed as categories by the industry to distinguish between the two principal lines of porn production.

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