Essay on The Economics of Pornography

Essay on The Economics of Pornography

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Steven Hirsch is still a handsome man at age 39; he has a golden tan, long brown hair, and a new black Ferrari. Steven founded Vivid Videos in 1984 when he was 23. Now president of the lucrative company, he discusses brand recognition and foreign licensing rights from his office nestled in the solid middle class community of Van Nuys, California. Steven sounds much like the young Hollywood movie executives not far from his inconspicuous studios ... until he starts listing some of his company's video credits: Ho-tel Pacifico, Lonestar Virgins #9, and Life on Beaver Ave.

Steven Hirsch is a pornographer, and Vivid Videos is one of the three leading adult film companies in the world. Hirsch didn't just stumble upon the business. Like any other wealthy entrepreneurs, he recognized a market and capitalized on it. Some believe his rise to the top could only happen in America. Others might compare Steven Hirsch to F. Scott Fitzgerald's fictional Jay Gatsby. They believe entrepreneurs who enter the sex industry pursue the "American Dream" the wrong way.

Society devotes a lot attention to the harmful effects of pornography and to the issue of the First Amendment. We hear much less discussion about the economic aspect of porn. In fact, pornography represents the product of an industry that has grown immensely since its emergence after World War II. Films, for example, were heavily restricted during the 40s and 50s. But when films like Bonnie and Clyde and Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolfe, both with explicit sexual innuendo, began out-selling more "wholesome" movies, many of the barriers holding sex back crumbled in the name of profit (Clark 1029-1030). Pornography is an industry, and as such, its success depends on the free?enterprise l...

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...eb. 2000 <http://www.nypost.com80/02l72000/business/1285.htm>.

Pennyworth, Humphrey. "The New Kids on the Erotic Health Block Keep Program Launches." Adult Video News 17 Feb. 2000. World Wide Web. 22 Feb. 2000 <>.

"Porn less Popular in Bulgaria." Adult Video News. 1 Oct. 1998. World Wide Web. 22 Feb. 2000 <>.

"Profile - Playboy Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE:PIA)." Yahoo! Finance 16 Feb. 2000. Yahoo Market Guide. 17 Feb. 2000 <;>.

Schlosser, Eric. "The Business of Pornography: Most of the Outsize Profits Being Generated by Pornography Today are Being Earned by Businesses Not Traditionally Associated with the Sex Industry." U.S. News & World Report 10 Feb. 1997: 42-50.

See, Carolyn. Blue Money. New York: McKay, 1974.

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