People V. Larry Flynt Essay

This essay has a total of 1404 words and 6 pages.

People V. Larry Flynt

The movie of focus, ‘People vs. Larry Flynt', is a film by Milos Forman which stars
Woody Harrelson as Flynt. Larry Flynt is the president and publisher of Hustler magazine.
Hustler is sort of the Mad magazine of written pornography which was started in the early
1970's. The interest for me was seeing how this movie depicts the sexual exploitation of
women in the sex industry with a specific look at how the material devalues women.

The movie starts out in 1952 with a young Larry Flynt along with his younger brother
peddling moonshine somewhere in Kentucky. Twenty years later they own a strip club in
Cincinnati, Ohio called Hustler. Larry says, "If we could let people know what great lays
these girls are, we'd have something." His magazine begins with an idea of a Hustler
newsletter containing only a few double sided pages of written and nudie material geared
for men on the go. From there he built a million dollar porn magazine which today is sold

The moral majority protested heavily against Flynt and his magazine on grounds that the
material was corrupting people's thoughts and actions. Keep in mind, Playboy magazine was
legally operating at this time. The difference between the two magazines was not that they
contain nude pictures of women but the quality of the pictures themselves. Hustler's
pictures were more vivid, real and risky; Playboy's pictures were more artsy geared for an
upper class man. Hustler also included pictures and stories of the sexual acts like

Flynt raised eyebrows and dropped jaws with every issue of his magazine, but one issue in
particular really got people's attention. In this issue, the magazine targeted the
Reverend Jerry Falwell, former president of the Moral Majority, in a liquor ad parody
recounting his "first time". The ad featured Falwell's first time with his mother in an
outhouse. Falwell sued Flynt for libel, invasion of privacy, and "intentional infliction
of emotional distress". Hearing this Flynt counter sued which ultimately brought this case
to the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1988, the high court ruled unanimously in
Flynt's favor.

As you can imagine, the ruling exacerbated the controversy further among the moral
majority, feminist, and freedom lovers across the nation. After viewing this movie, I
decided to redirect my research from how pornography devalues women to the controversial
issue of the high court's decision. I found that probably the biggest groups to debate
censorship of pornography are those feminist groups. However, they don't agree as a whole;
the groups are split in half. Some feminists believe that pornography doesn't degrade
women; it empowers them and censorship of things like pornography would only bring further
discrimination. On the other hand, we have those right winged feminist who sincerely
believe that degradation of women in pornography leads to criminal acts such as rape. They
only reach a consensus in regards to strengthening their 1st Amendment Right by protesting
against pornography or supporting it.

Unsure of my opinion on the correlation of pornography and rape, I considered two
articles: (1) Egalitarian, sexist, and aggressive sexual materials: attitude effects and
viewer responses; and (2) Men's enjoyment of explicit erotica: effects of person-specific
attitudes and gender-specific norms. In the first article, research on sexual attitudes
was conducted among a sample of college students in Syracuse University. "Hypothesis one
was that both sexist and sexually aggressive scenes would increase acceptance of sexist
attitudes; Hypthothesis two was that only sexually aggressive scenes would increase
acceptance of rape myths and sexual coercion" (Bauserman, 1988). Study one was conducted
to identify the ways in which the sample described what sexism and sexual aggression meant
to the sample. The second study examined change in attitude. Hypothesis one was weakly
supported. Hypothesis two was totally rejected. This wasn't surprising to me. The idea
that there is more correlation than that is absurd, because violence is not sexual in any
way. It is simply an act of empowerment over another individual using coercive means of
doing so. In the case of rape, it is a sexual invasion to achieve a sense of domineering
gratification for the offender over the victim to intentionally inflict harm. Therefore,
rape and sex or sexuality can not be linked together.

The second article focuses on the definitional differences between erotica and
pornography. These two terms are commonly misconstrued in an industry such as pornography.
By dictionary terms, erotica is defined as "of, devoted to, or tending to arouse sexual
love or desire," erotica as "literary or artistic work having an erotic theme or quality"
(Lopez, 1995). Almost alike, pornography is defined as " the depiction of erotic behavior
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