This Aint Glee XXX: Porn Parody and Glee Fandom

Curator's Note

Porn parody is a genre of mainstream pornography that adapts popular films, TV shows and comic books. While not new in the adult industry by any means, porn parodies are top-selling titles, and are seen as a strategy for keeping the industry afloat amidst a flagging DVD market. Sharon Marie Ross points out that teen TV producers are increasingly invested in engaging online communities. Porn producers are no exception. Top parody director Axel Braun describes himself as an expert and a fan of most of the texts he parodies. Braun explicitly names “geeks” as an important target audience because of their power to “literally make or break a movie” through social media networking.

Given that teen TV shows often have large online fan-bases with a strong interest in sexuality, a popular show like Glee would seem like the ideal text for parody. However, in catering to both the imagined mainstream adult film and Glee fan audiences, Braun’s This Ain’t Glee XXX (2010) has the potential to alienate gleeks by excluding fan favorites including white male homosexual character Kurt, plus-size black female favorite Mercedes, and Artie, a white male in a wheelchair.

This Ain’t Glee: XXX may appeal to gleeks by picking up on many of the salient details of Glee’s set design and musical numbers. Perhaps most notable are Braun’s raunchy re-writings of Glee’s best-selling songs from the first season: Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Although a character approximating Mercedes sings a duet in the trailer, she is not featured in any of the sex scenes. Kurt and Artie do not appear at all. In line with mainstream adult industry conventions—which exclude male homosexuality and "fetish" subjects such as black BBWs and white straight men with disabilities—this parody may fail to appeal to the hardcore fans that Braun is so eager to activate. As television, and particularly teen television, becomes more inclusive of what is still considered in mainstream adult film to be “fetish,” these omissions point to blind spots in the mainstream adult industry, not only about what is possible in general, but about the potential audience for porn parody in particular. Moreover, the potential miscalculation of what gleeks may want to see in a parody emphasizes the difficulty media industries producers face in targeting hardcore fans as elite consumers.

Comments

Karen Petruska's picture

audience overlap

Rachel, Thanks for the post. I honestly had never considered the possibility of Glee porn parody, though your point that the porn does not advance Glee’s genuine commitment to diversity is fascinating. Broadly, is there much diversity in porn, or does it tend to be highly segregated, organized into niche interests, particular fetishes?

Do you mean to argue that there is overlap between the audience for Glee and the audience for porn parodies of Glee? Considering Ryan Murphy’s other programs, I could certainly see a more logical overlap there, but Glee presents itself as so wholesome, with its “Gleek” of the week and over-earnest efforts to overcome difference. Without any knowledge about this topic, I’d assume fans of porn parodies of Glee would be anti-fans—people interested to see the program’s squeaky clean image tarnished. Does the web enable (or inspire) a more fluid movement between these types of programs?

Rachel Allen's picture

Thanks Karen for your great

Thanks Karen for your great questions. Where to begin! (I included my links at the bottom)

Broadly speaking, there is a lot of diversity in the adult industry—everything from queer feminist porn, to “fat” porn to pretty much whatever you can imagine. However, there aren’t a lot of gay male crossover films in mainstream adult. The reason for this, as it’s been explained to me, has to do with condom regulations— heterosexual performers are tested and aren’t required to wear condoms; gay male performers must wear condoms but aren’t tested. So that is a possible reason why the Glee porn parody doesn’t have a Kurt. The other reason is that, as I said, the mainstream industry is trying to target what parody director Lee Roy Myers has described as the “porn and non-porn consumer,” not just through parody, but through other couples porn genres such as the very popular “Romance” genre. The non-porn consumers, as imagined by producers, are straight couples that perform what has been described to me as “vanilla sex”(Link 1).

What interested me particularly about teen TV porn parodies is that while teen TV shows such as Glee and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have been honored by organizations such as GLAAD for their representations of queer sexuality, the Glee parody, as well as the Buffy the Vampire Slayer parody (Buffy The Vampire Slayer XXX: A Porn Parody), are not as queer and more “vanilla,” for lack of a better word, in comparison to the original network shows. This is more true of the Buffy parody, and less true of Glee XXX which does feature female-female scenes but excludes important gay characters such as Kurt.

In an article that just came out a week ago, parody director Chris Steele says that he discovered the gay market for porn parodies through hearing about fans’ dissatisfaction with the Glee parody. He says,”I received all kinds of suggestions from people in the industry, and even straight friends who would email things like, ‘Why don’t you do a gay porn parody of ‘Glee?’” It’s great that directors like Steele are responding to the gay market, but I personally would still like to see a parody of Glee with both male-male and female-female pairings, and that includes other marginalized identities that are present in the original show and not present in the parody. (link 2).

I’m really glad you mentioned anti-fans because that’s a major piece of this that I didn’t have time to address. I think in the case of Braun, it’s likely that This Aint Glee XXX was meant to attract anti-fans. Braun is really more of a self-professed fan of comic books and he’s made several highly lauded parodies such as Spiderman XXX, Batman XXX and Avengers XXX that have replicated many aspects of the original comics that even the film adaptations overlooked. I think the point is: whether you are a director trying to attract fans or anti-fans, getting those details right is key to sparking the interest of online communities. This Aint Glee XXX just wouldn’t be funny, or meaningful to a fan if it didn’t successfully capture the look and feel of the original show.

Link 1: http://www.xbiz.com/news/news_piece.php?id=137485&mi=all&q=porn+parody Link 2: http://www.xbiz.com/articles/156390

Louisa Stein's picture

Rachel—This is such a

Rachel—This is such a fascinating post! (Not to mention an unsettling video.) I watched the video before reading your post, and I too noticed the exclusion of Kurt and Blaine, which I found especially striking because they’re the subject of so much fan-authored porn.

I could tell that this video was made with a gleek-eye to detail, but minus the penchant for critique often on display within Glee fandom; that is, it replicates rather than critiques the marginalization/othering of Tina and Mercedes often perpetuated by the plot, and compounds it with an exoticization. But then the fact that it completely removed Kurt and Blaine (and Santana and Brittany) and Artie and Puck (the list goes on!) does suggest a basic incongruity between the imagined audiences of the two texts (Glee and the parody…)

This Ain’t Glee does point to the dimensions of sexualized spectacle already at work in Glee… yet Glee invites a female and queer audience, and this video, with its Hustler frame, seems to primarily have the straight male gaze in mind. Have you looked into the reception/circulation of this video?

Rachel Allen's picture

Thanks for your wonderful

Thanks for your wonderful comments! First I want to note that the Glee porn parody was released in July of 2010, several months before the premiere of Glee’s second season. That’s why there’s no Blaine and Brittana. However, Kurt was a fan favorite from the start and in response to fan interest in seeing more aspects of Kurt’s sexuality, the Murphy/Brennan/Falchuk team expanded Kurt’s sex life, giving him a boyfriend, etc. Braun’s response to Season One was to erase Kurt, and as you said, replicate the marginalization of Mercedes, Tina and Artie. In comparison to these network TV writers, Braun’s interpretation is less responsive to the fan desire to see Kurt in action, so to speak.

I’m glad you brought up the queer female audience being addressed here because there’s a lot to say about that too. Braun’s parody does include girl-girl pairings. Particularly interesting is the portrayal of Sue Sylvester. In the show Sue is a heterosexual character who is played by a lesbian actress Jane Lynch. However in the parody, the character approximating Sue is engaging in girl-girl sex with a version of Tina. This interpretation could theoretically be of interest to a lesbian audience even though lesbians aren’t the parody’s target audience. But could these scenes appeal to the lesbian gleek audience? Most fan fiction I’ve encountered has been centered on Brittany/Santana; the Sue/Tina pairing seems a little random, even by season one standards. The intersections between the imagined audience for both Glee and the Glee parody is a complicated question that I need to think through more.

I have started to look into the reception/circulation of porn parodies. I’ve heard that Braun’s comic book parodies are popular in those fan communities, but I’m not a part of that community so I don’t really know. I’ve found some discussion of the Glee parody on sites such as ONTD. However I’m not sure if the parody has really penetrated that fan community, maybe due to the issues mentioned above! Reception studies is tricky when it comes to adult film, but I think the parodies are a potentially rich site for fan studies scholarship!

Amy Hasinoff's picture

Fascinating that this exists!

Fascinating that this exists! Do you have any idea idea how Ryan Murphy or other Glee people feel about the porn parody?

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