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Middle Men – A Film About How Porn Found a Home on the Internet

Last Updated: April 9, 2015

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Middle Men comes out this weekend, giving viewers the almost-true story of how porn became so accessible on the World Wide Web.

Set in 1995, former NASA technician Buck Dolby (played by Gabriel Macht) creates a program that allows Internet users to enter their credit card information to purchase pornographic photos and videos. Together he and Wayne Beering (Giovanni Ribisi) start running a profitable businesses selling porn online, making millions and inadvertently getting into trouble with mobsters.

Enter Jack Harris (played by Luke Wilson). This straight-and-narrow businessman has an idea to help the young pornographers with their growing enterprise. He creates an online billing service to act as a third party between the supplier and the purchaser—thus ensuring the buyer’s anonymity. Today we are accustomed to the online world of a-la-cart pay services, but in the early days of the Internet, this was a brand new concept—one that was pioneered by the adult industry.

The film is decidedly marketed to a porn-fan audience, evidenced by their advertisements on adult websites. The film is unsurprisingly rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language, drug use and violence. Fearing an NC-17 rating, Paramount deleted certain over-the-top scenes—which were then (accidentally?) leaked onto adult sites across the Web.

The Truth Behind the Film

Middle Men is the highly fictionalized version what Christopher Mallick did with Paycom back in the 1990s. Mallick worked as one of the producers on the movie, and his production company, Oxymoron Productions, financed the whole film. George Gallo, best-known for writing Midnight Run, served as the director for what critics are calling “Boogie Nights meets Goodfellas.”

The late psychologist Alvin Cooper believed that there are three main factors that draw people into the Internet porn: Accessibility, Affordability, and Anonymity. This “Triple A Engine” drives the digital porn market, and Middle Men graphically covers them all. The Internet makes porn more accessible, the producers make it affordable, and in this movie, Jack Harris makes it anonymous. Filled with mob drama and wrapped in sleaze, the film celebrates the mechanism that made Internet porn the fastest expanding segment of the U.S. adult entertainment market.

The Anonymous Internet

In this tale of greed and corruption, one great theme stands out: the premium we place on secrecy. We delete our Internet histories to ensure no one will know where we’ve been. We invent “private browsing” features. We minimize windows we want no one else to see. Why? Because we want secrecy. Secrecy allows us to believe that what we do online won’t impact our lives offline. But it will.

This is exactly why Covenant Eyes invented accountability software. We know there are thousands of people who realize dangers of secrecy online and they want a way to be open and honest with others about where they go and what they see. Parents don’t want their kids to develop habits of secret surfing. Adults don’t want to start making small, secret compromises online that lead to major compromises to their integrity. When we remove secrecy we diminish the temptation.

  • Comments on: Middle Men – A Film About How Porn Found a Home on the Internet
    1. Victory Is Possible on

      There is no question that when a person with a sexual issue gets that issue in the light is really helps the person find victory at last.

      In my life all my attempts to stop didn’t work. All my keeping it secret allowed it to grow. When it did finally come to light was the beginning of real life! I am so glad it happened!

      Reply

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