Girls Gone Wild Sued for Shady Bizness?! Get Me a Mint Julip—Stat!

Say it ain’t so, Joe!

Two Florida women have sued “Girls Gone Wild” creator Joe Francis and his film company, alleging a sexually explicit video was released without their consent.

…According to the lawsuit, the cameramen then coerced the women into exposing themselves and engaging in sexual activities, but repeatedly stated they would not use footage in a video. However, the footage appeared on two separate “Girls Gone Wild” DVDs.

Cue the Concern Trolls: “Well, this should serve as a cautionary tale to young women that they shouldn’t be so trusting (and probably not so sexually liberated, either).”—and the Blamers: “How fucking stupid are these girls? They deserve it.”

I’ll just respond to everyone in one fell swoop: Stupidity, or (perhaps more accurately) naïveté, is not a crime—but using footage for profit without a participant’s consent is. So let’s first of all try to remain focused on the fact that while the women here may have used less than stellar judgment, it was only because the cameramen used even worse judgment, exploiting the resultant lapse in inhibition and common sense after they (also illegally) plied underage women with alcohol, that we’re even discussing this story.

So we’re left with naïve versus unethical and criminal—and, the truth is, we’ve all been inexperienced or naïve or downright foolish at one point or another. It’s part of growing up, and it’s nothing about which to be scolded. Most of us, if we’re honest, aren’t so deeply cynical that we distrust people more than we trust them even now, and that’s a completely rational decision; most people really won’t take advantage of us, even given the opportunity—most out of kindness and a general sense of decency, some with a nod to karma, some because they’re afraid to get caught. Even people whom I’ve heard swear up and down that they’re hard-core cynics and don’t trust anyone have walked away from a cashier pocketing their change without counting it. We tend to forget how trusting we actually are, so routine is that trust.

Ergo, when trustfulness meets diabolical untrustworthiness, it’s usually not much of a contest. And when you add naïveté to trust, and they butt up against exploitative immorality, it’s no contest at all. And we’d all do well to remember that.

Naïve, by the way, is not necessarily a synonym for virginal. Particularly with regard to young women, we tend to associate sexual activity (and especially promiscuity) with worldliness, as if everything a girl needs to know about the world comes out of a man’s cock. But it is completely possible for young women (and men) to be sexually adventurous and simultaneously naïve about many other ways in which the world works, often at the same time. That, friends, is the backdrop of broken hearts—but it also often the backdrop of sexual exploitation and abuse, as women fail to discern the details of what makes this particular situation in which they’re about to be victimized different from the other times they’ve had some good, old-fashioned fun.

It’s easy to cluck our tongues at young women who trusted men to film them and keep their promise that it would remain private; it’s especially easy from the distance of age. The world is very different, especially with regard to media, than it was when I was 18 just 15 years ago. Contemporary teens and young adults have filmed and photographed and shared and uploaded and broadcast lives; they experience media, they are intimately involved in media, in ways we were not. Fifteen minutes of fame is a reality, and reality is a TV show. Consenting to be filmed as part of a sex romp is not what it used to be, eh, Tommy Lee? And even if it were, consenting to be filmed for fun hasn’t ever been the same as consenting to be broadcast for profit.

That’s really the long and the short of it, in the end. These women had every right to consent to having sex and being filmed, and they did. And that’s all to which they consented. What happened after that was the doing of manipulative, lying reprobates—and, like any other miscreant who takes more than that to which his partner has consented, is they, and they alone, who deserve our scorn.

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Girls Gone Wild Sued for Shady Bizness?! Get Me a Mint Julip—Stat!

Say it ain’t so, Joe!

Two Florida women have sued “Girls Gone Wild” creator Joe Francis and his film company, alleging a sexually explicit video was released without their consent.

…According to the lawsuit, the cameramen then coerced the women into exposing themselves and engaging in sexual activities, but repeatedly stated they would not use footage in a video. However, the footage appeared on two separate “Girls Gone Wild” DVDs.

Cue the Concern Trolls: “Well, this should serve as a cautionary tale to young women that they shouldn’t be so trusting (and probably not so sexually liberated, either).”—and the Blamers: “How fucking stupid are these girls? They deserve it.”

(more…)

15 Comments

Filed under 01_shakespeares_sister

15 responses to “Girls Gone Wild Sued for Shady Bizness?! Get Me a Mint Julip—Stat!

  1. nightshift66

    The only caveat I would add is that one should never, EVER, take a civil complaint at face value. It is nothing but one side’s version of events, and the drafting attorney always stretches for everything possible under the sun. It is possible (possible, mind you!) that nothing in the complaint is accurate. And I would say this about any complaint and any article on civil actions that begins with the phrase “According to the complaint.”

    That said, Francis and Co. have a long history of doing exactly what they are accused of in this complaint, and there is no reason to give GGW any benefit of the doubt in the court of public opinion.

  2. Melissa McEwan

    The only caveat I would add is that one should never, EVER, take a civil complaint at face value.

    You’ll notice that I very deliberately framed my arguments in reaction to typical responses to such stories; I did not explicitly state anything about the veracity of the underlying case.

    That said, I do that on general principle, not because I believe Joe Francis deserves a modicum of my regard.

  3. I have only two words here: Release Forms

    If the producers can’t produce valid, signed release forms, I believe that they would be on very shaky legal ground, regardless. My freakin’ home town paper makes you sign a release form before they’ll use your photo taken at the county fair, fer chrissake!

    The last time I rented a house, they took photocopies of my driver’s license, and the IDs of everyone who was going to be living there.

    Why did they do this? Because they wanted to be certain to cover their butts in case of later legal disputes.

    If GGW wasn’t using a rock-solid, air-tight release form and age verification system, I can think of only reason why they would not — because they can lean on the age-old “she wanted it/she asked for it/she enticed me” defense to wriggle out from under the only other two words that I have right now:

    Slime

    Balls

  4. I hope they sue the pants off ol’ Joe.

    Now that would make an interesting video…

  5. Good luck to the plaintiffs. Francis seems like a particularly odious character even in the exploitative world of pornography.

  6. Doctor Jay

    You know, what this takes is women with the kind of guts these women have, because you know that GGW will sling mud just as hard as it can at them.

    They will need to stand up and say, in court, where their parents can hear them, “Yeah, I agreed to do that stuff, but I didn’t give them permission to publish it.”

    Go for it.

  7. Anne

    I hope those shitbags get sued out of existence, and after that, I hope their ghosts get sued out of hell so the gods have to create an even worse place for them to stay for eternity.

  8. christine

    GGW is also in trouble in Iowa City. The last UI Homecoming game, they were in town and their bus ran over a guy. IIRC the guy lived, but lost a leg. GGW is being sued for that.

  9. Augh! I hate Joe Francis with every fiber of my being!! And I may always will.

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  11. You really, really, really don’t want a mint julep, Liss. It’s a damn shameful thing to do to bourbon anyway. Take the mint and sugar and make a mojito out of it, then maybe throw a couple ice cubes at the bourbon.

    Other than that, I got nothing ain’t already been said. Joe Francis is a nasty little worm who’s made a very good living out of exploiting drunk young women. Any grief coming to him is well deserved.

  12. If those clowns don’t have a signed, legal model release form, they are indeed hosed. I do believe that’s a criminal violation, but I don’t know what the state laws are there. A former lover of mine made some “soft core” porn films some years ago, and even then the director filmed her holding her driver’s license and a copy of the signed model release form in front of her ON CAMERA, on the first reel. Sex industry professionals KNOW this is the routine.

    What may be happening is that the sleazy cameramen DID get a model release form signed by the women, but nonetheless told them what they were shooting wouldn’t be used. IOW, they lied to them. That could be trickier to prove or disprove. A signed document generally trumps a “verbal contract”.

    Regardless of one’s opinion of GGW, if they didn’t do the proper paperwork, they should be nailed just for basic stupidity.

  13. char

    I’m also curious about whether they got the consent (if they *did* get the written consent) from the women when they were sober, or when they were drunk? I know that drinking does not excuse everything, but it sure as hell make people do things that they didn’t expect to do.

  14. Melissa McEwan

    According to the article, the women were drinking (having been given alcohol by the cameramen even though the women were underage), and they don’t recall having given consent. So, if consent is produced, it will likely be challenged on competency grounds.

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