This is a post about attribution, with digressions; but it also has a damned fine photograph in it.
Let’s start with the photograph, in the degraded condition that I first found it in. It was a large-format version of this:
What are your first impressions of this photo?
I’ll tell you what my first and second impressions were. First impression: It’s a very attractive pic, despite being fully-clothed and very soft-core, because the girls have shapely asses and the schoolgirl outfits are quality fetish fuel. Second impression: But it’s also transgressive as hell! The girls are right there in a church, kneeling on an altar bench of some sort in front of a nun, showing their panties and pretty asses to the camera. Surely that’s not right!
And right about then my third impression kicked in, in which the blogger internal voice was speaking louder than the porn-viewer/art-critic voice: “Hey, you’re wasting my time, I can’t use this shit at all! In fact I don’t dare put this visually excellent shit within a mile of my server, because I’ve got no idea who made it, it’s got no watermark, and most importantly you perv, we’ve got no fucking idea how old those girls are … they’re pretty full-figured, but for all you could prove by that photo, they might be the tweener daughters of a United States senator with an iron rod up his butt, and how fucked would you be then?
Packed into that paragraph are the seeds of several digressions, into which I shall now dive with a quarter of the verve and none of the panache that a digressory artist like Neal Stephenson would bring to the digressory project:
Prefatory Digression: No. So far as I am aware, “digressory” was not actually a word before I made it up, just now.
Digression the First: The lack of a watermark explains why I’m not going to tell you where I found this photo. There are Tumblr sites that routinely strip the watermarks off of the porn they “repost” from around the web, and this was one of those Tumblrs. Sometimes such a crop makes aesthetic sense (you’ll often find me doing this on ErosBlog) but there’s no excuse for not giving a text credit in such cases. I simply don’t feel that sites which are actively and aggressively working to break the chain of attribution deserve to be included in the chain of attribution.
Digression the Second: Attribution is important for more reasons than giving honor and credit to the artists and producers. Specifically, in porn, attribution is one of the ways people can pay attention to whether the porn they view, enjoy, and reproduce is ethical. As I wrote long ago, knowing where your porn comes from and who makes it, under what conditions, is how you make sure that the models aren’t making it against their will or under other awful conditions. If you merrily strip all the watermarks off the porn you reblog all day, you make it easier for unethical porn producers to flourish and harder for consumers to hold porn producers accountable. Branding in porn is a good thing. Brand-stripping? Not so much.
Digression The Third: Isn’t it actually a little bit odd that the age of the girls loomed so large in my thoughts so quickly, given that they are rather heavily clothed and exposing nothing more salacious than some rather sedate panties? It would take a whole blog post to unpack that one, so let me just assert for our foreign audience that the local cultural imperatives are even stronger than the legal risks: In the United States it really isn’t a good idea to post pictures when you aren’t damn sure that the models are legal adults, even when they are fully clothed and engaged in nothing sexual. That’s so even where, as here, you can tell from style and context alone that the photograph is very likely to be a glamor/fashion/porn shot done with adult models dressed to tweak our cultural fascination with youth. Moral confidence is not enough; you really want to know, if you want to stay safe from the mobs with torches and pitchforks.
Enough digression. So there I was, thirty seconds into my encounter with this photograph, thinking it was a lovely, sexy, softcore, heavily transgressive, fetishy, pervy shot, probably something from a fashion shoot like this one. But I’m also absolutely convinced that I’m wasting my time admiring this photograph, because there’s an-ever-so-slight chance it comes from some weird European or Japanese source and the girls really are way too young to be admired in the way we like to admire women on ErosBlog. Worse yet, there’s a much bigger chance that I’ll simply never be able to identify the source of the photo well enough to rule out that slight-but-crippling possibility.
By now I’m mentally cussing out whomever it was that stripped this photo of any context, provenance, watermark, or identifying information it might have had before they Tumbled it. Fuckers.
However, all was not lost. The Tineye Reverse Image Search fails me utterly about nine times out of ten — their database of photographs is simply not large enough — but when it succeeds, it can save my blogging life. This was one such time. This time, there were some results, the best of which took me to a notorious Russian image-stealing forum. But that was not a bad result, because the picture there had its original watermark. And hey wow, doesn’t this brand name put a whole ‘nother complexion on the photograph?
Be sure to click this one for a nice big version. Club Jenna is a highly famous and reasonably respectable porn brand, and Jenna Jameson is for damned sure no schoolgirl; indeed, at a publicly-claimed 36 she’s getting a bit long in the tooth by the unforgiving standards of the industry, not that her legions of gallant and loyal fans would ever say so. In this picture, she appears with Ashton Moore, who is the same public age.
So, despite fetish fuel schoolgirl outfits and tiny little backpacks and a knee-jerk reaction from me that would have made the old 1980s Tipper Gore proud, the actual photo turns out to be one from a series shot for a wildly-popular porn site by a pair of almost middle-aged very big-name porn stars. If it weren’t for TinEye, I wouldn’t have been able to blog about it; I would have just cursed a stale curse, as indeed I do a dozen other times every day, and passed the photo by.
This time, I’m glad I didn’t have to do that.
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