Readers respond to Charles Taylor's review of "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star": Um, no, some of us don't watch porn and don't know who Jenna Jameson is. And don't call us prudes!

By Salon Staff
Published August 30, 2004 8:00PM (EDT)

[Read "World's Biggest Porn Star Tells All" by Charles Taylor.]

I have a few problems with Charles Taylor. At the same time he is attempting to "save literature from the literati," he lobs this softball book review Jenna Jameson's way. I'm certain there is an argument to be made for the validity of visual culture, but I'm not convinced the porn-fixated Taylor is the writer to be making this argument.

As to the matter of his sanguine review, I'm also certain Ms. Jameson describes a measure of redemption in her book, but I'm not convinced that a "visually literate" critic who promotes a family wedding photo offers incontestable proof of that -- a picture of an alabaster-clad family has never offered a guarantee of domestic bliss as far as I know.

If Mr. Taylor really wants to rail against "champions of literature ... telling people the culture they enjoy is junk," he might be better served by choosing subject matter that isn't as trashy as a ghostwritten book by a porn star, or at least demonstrate some semblance of a critical stance towards the material.

Perhaps rather than febrile, nudge-nudge apologies for Jameson, he could wipe the hand lotion off and turn to "the highest achievements of language"? "Moll Flanders" comes to mind.

-- S.T. O'Brien

Could you please tell Charles Taylor to stop using every article that he writes as a validation for his feelings about pornography? He comes across as a man so consumed with guilt over his feelings that he must make excuses at every turn, whether warranted or not. And in the process, he loses sight of what he's writing about in the first place: a review. All the reader gets is page after page, article after article, of Taylor justifying his love of porn and condescending with oversimplification those that don't. If he feels that porn is OK, then fine. But stop using every opportunity to defend it against imaginary porn enemies. You and porn are not the victim here, Mr. Taylor: Whether this is fortunate or not, porn is mainstream. And that's why your attempts at vindication seem so facetious and misplaced.

-- Charlotte Markward

Articles like this confound me because Taylor tries to equate working at Wal-Mart with being a porn star -- which really is a form of prostitution, if you stick to the definition of performing sex acts for money -- to apparently justify the fact that most people have watched porn, so we shouldn't "look down on" those who create it. To extend that, we shouldn't look down on the criminals we see on "Cops" because we are being entertained by their goofy arrests. Doesn't work, does it?

Stacking cans on a shelf for minimum wage doesn't complicate your life and your mind, not to mention your soul if you believe in such a thing, like performing one of our most intimate and sacred acts for money. If you doubt that, consider your answer to this question: Would you support and approve of your mom, dad, wife, husband, daughter, son or yourself (!) being a porn star?

Sorry, Charles, your suppositions just don't float. You don't have to justify the life choices of Jameson to praise her book.

-- Tim Hanson

Does Charles Taylor realize that Salon has female as well as male readers? As a sexually progressive female, I'm neither opposed to nor unaware of the existence of pornography, but it's a bit much to say that anyone claiming to not know the names of porn actresses is lying. Please.

While this was an interesting article, I was confused by Taylor's apparent outrage at those who compare porn actors to prostitutes. Or "whores," as Taylor likes to call them. Fundamentally, prostitution is about sex for money. That is what porn actors do, and it is what prostitutes do. I don't see how this comparison denigrates porn actors. Perhaps Taylor would be wise to confront his own hypocrisy in singing the praises of one kind of sex worker while heaping scorn on another.

-- Jessica Alberts

Charles Taylor commits a basic journalistic sin in his article about this supposedly famous porn star -- he assumes that the personal is universal. I've never heard of Jenna Jameson, nor does the book review cause me to be interested in her life. Taylor insults his readers by assuming at the beginning of his article that we all know who Jenna Jameson is, not because he assumes that we all watch porn -- believe it or not, some of us don't -- but because he is somehow intimating that those of us who are not "in the know" are hopelessly clueless. This is something like using the phrase -- which I've encountered in Salon before -- "unless you've been on Mars for the last few years ... " Such clichés belong in a high school newspaper, not in Salon. Your role as a journalist is to inform me, so please do so without any of your snide comments.

-- Stephan von Pohl

Salon Staff

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