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  • Nate Adams

'Money Shot: The Pornhub Story' review: Documentary offers uneven look at the industry

Courtesy of Netflix


What defines safe and consensual pornography seems to be the question at the center of “Money Shot: The Pornhub Story,” wherein a variety of adult industry commentators try unearthing the answer. The results are uneven at best as the documentary, from filmmaker Suzanne Hillinger, never picks a lane: bouncing back and forth between Pornhub is an enabler for pedophiles and fostering illegal content to a sex positive company that gives its creators the tools to monetize their work. It’s never clear whose side “Money Shot” is on and therefore it’s hard to gauge what I’m supposed to take away from it as the viewer. 

And if you read the explosive 2020 expose by New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof on how Pornhub had profited off illegal content, including but limited too rape, than “Money Shot” doesn’t provide any shocking revelations. But even then, it won’t take a rocket scientist to ascertain Pornhub, owned by Canadian company MindGeek, is a massively successful enterprise that’s easily one of the most visited websites in the world and that it’s not unreasonable to think bad agents might try to take advantage of it. For a while, it seems the direction “Money Shot” is going is Pornhub needs to be deplatformed and scrubbed from the internet (Mastercard and Visa removed their payment processing from the website after the expose). And considering the revelations unearthed and discussed in the documentary, including various solicitations and non consensual encounters with minors, I could see the argument. 

But then “Money Shot” pivots towards the adult stars of the industry and their view on how wrongfully chastised sex workers have become, and the mainly far-right Christian evangelists that are trying to stop them. It would seem Hillinger is on the side of the models, but it never digs deep enough into whether or not Pornhub and sites like OnlyFans are publishers or uploading platforms ala YouTube. If they’re turning a profit and bringing in large sums of cash (which the documentary tries and fails to expand on) shouldn’t someone or something be regulating the behavior? 

It would seem the biggest issue is that Pornhub has a moderation problem. It features interviews with former Pornhub employees who, along with 14 other people at the time, were responsible for sifting through 1000 hours of videos daily in an effort to try and weed out illegal activity. But when the site is getting thousands upon thousands of uploads, there’s no way a small team of overworked engineers can police that type of behavior. Hopefully, that changes for the better, because no matter what any anti-porngraphic group tries to do, if “Money Shot” teaches viewers one thing they already know: it’s that adult entertainment isn’t going anywhere. 

Grade: C 

MONEY SHOT: THE PORNHUB STORY debuts on Netflix Wednesday March 15th. 

1 comment

1 Comment

Mar 15, 2023

What do you mean, "which side its on?" Journalism isn't supposed to take sides, just provide the facts. One would hope that you developed enough critical thinking skills to make up your own mind, without having to be told what you're supposed to think.


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