Monday, July 20, 2009

I just watched this video from CNBC about “high-end prostitution”. And it made me roll my eyes a lot.

Okay, on one hand, it’s really not bad at all. They have some great people in it, like Veronica Monet and Carol Leigh. They're fabulous. And the escorts they interviewed were all bright, articulate women who represented themselves and what they do very well. So from a strictly PR point of view, it’s fine.

What exasperates me is the fact that it’s a 40-minute slog over the same old clichéd ground. I didn’t see or hear one new thing in this video. In fact, I'll save you forty minutes and sum up the whole thing for you in a few lines…

“Women sometimes exchange sex for money. (Here’s some sexy pictures of women.) Sometimes a little money, sometimes a lot. (Here’s some more sexy pictures of women.) Some women like this and do it freely. Other women don’t. (Here’s some MORE sexy pictures of women.) Some people think this is bad, while others think it’s no big deal. Doesn’t seem likely to stop anytime soon. And, that’s our report. (Oh, here’s a few last sexy pictures of women.)”

That’s it. There was some focus on how the internet has changed sex work, which it very definitely has. For well over ten years now.

So - can any of this really be news to anyone past puberty? I mean, come on, people. This is not news. Perhaps you might classify it as a documentary. Perhaps. A rather dull documentary.

It’s like the editor had a staff meeting and said, “Okay, it’s time for something titillating but journalistically defensible. Give me a Number 317.”
“Okay, boss. That’s Expensive Call-Girl Story, right? Just the usual?”
“Yeah. Spin it out for forty minutes. Lots of pictures off the internet, and stock video footage of women putting on stockings and looking out windows. Put some footage of streetwalkers in there too, we gotta have some of those. And make sure you use that one voice-over actress, the one with the suggestive lilt. She could make a fast-food order sound like phone sex.”
“Sure thing. Have it on your desk by Thursday.”

This is a cookie-cutter story. It’s boring. It’s old. I mean, it’s really, really old. I think you can find the very first version of this story painted on a cave wall somewhere in picture form.

I get it that they have to fill up the hours. I get it that a lot of what’s called “news” is just entertainment. But good lord, with the resources at their disposal, you’d think CNBC might produce just one vaguely new and interesting thought in forty minutes.

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