Money Shot Asa Akira

Money Shot: The Pornhub Story review | Malware for the mind

Netflix's porn doc falls short of exploring the industry's darker side, neglecting porn's psychological impacts and exploitation of women.


Netflix’s porn doc falls short of exploring the industry’s darker side, neglecting porn’s psychological impacts and exploitation of women. Read our Money Shot: The Pornhub Story review.

In Suzanne Hillinger’s Money Shot: The Pornhub Story, she seeks to examine the controversial world of Pornhub and the broader porn industry. Unfortunately, the film fails to deliver a cohesive and substantial message. 

I found myself grappling with the documentary’s lack of focus on the detrimental effects of pornography on the brain, such as addiction, diminished sexual satisfaction, and adverse impacts on relationships, despite various studies supporting these claims

The featured female pornstars introduced to us at the start reveal nonchalantly that they first watched porn at an extremely young age. Apparently, these admissions aren’t important or relevant, and the documentary swiftly moves on.

Instead, the narrative wavers, very confusingly, between condemnation and endorsement of the porn industry. Hillinger introduces us to the history of the porn industry’s growth on the internet, from static, low-pixel pictures of boobs, to the explicit, HD (and even VR) medium millions consume today. 

Gwen Andora pornhub

Porn performer Gwen Andora (Credit: Netflix © 2023)

To its credit, Money Shot does acknowledge the significant issue of non-consensual and underage content on Pornhub, as exposed by Nicholas Kristof in a 2020 New York Times article

Kristof’s exposé led to payment providers such as Mastercard and Visa severing ties with the platform. But, somewhat regrettably, the film downplays the gravity of the damage caused by such content and the responsibility that platforms such as Pornhub bear in preventing its dissemination.

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Although Hillinger touches upon the moderation issue faced by Pornhub, with a small team of overburdened employees sifting through countless hours of content daily (what effect is this having on moderator’s brains? That’s the next doc we want to see!), the film fails to provide tangible solutions. Hillinger would have done better to explore further potential moderation, technology, and legislation improvements that might help combat the proliferation of illegal and harmful content on such platforms.

While giving voice to adult performers who push back against the stigma surrounding sex work and assert their autonomy in the industry is nevertheless important, the film leans heavily towards a sex-positive outlook. Hillinger’s approach neglects the numerous negative consequences that porn consumption can have on the brain and relationships.

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One crucial question still needs to be addressed: should these sites be considered publishers or platforms? If they profit from the content they host, shouldn’t they be held accountable for it? The documentary glosses over this query and omits interviews with key players on both sides of the debate, including anti-Pornhub activist Laila Mickelwait.

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Netflix dives into the world of online pornography website Pornhub Credit: Netflix

By inadequately scrutinising the darker side of the porn industry, Money Shot forgoes the opportunity to address issues such as the objectification of women, the normalisation of violence in sexual relationships, and the unrealistic expectations fostered by porn. Moreover, the film disregards the mental health implications of porn addiction, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and social isolation.

If you’re interested and sympathetic to the activities and financial challenges faced by pornstars, this is the documentary for you. If you were waiting for a balanced view of the porn industry and its ramifications on individuals and society, have more patience. 

By overlooking the psychological impacts of porn on the brain and only superficially touching upon non-consensual and underage content, the documentary does little to challenge the status quo or spur meaningful change in an industry desperately in need of reform and regulation. As viewers, we are left with an incomplete picture of a complex issue that deserves a more nuanced and complete appraisal.

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