Back in its so-called golden era of the ’70s and ’80s, you could at least trace the money flowing in and out of the porn industry to some sort of recognizable mob. Since the advent of tube sites like YouPorn in the mid-2000s, profits have skyrocketed to incomprehensible levels concentrated mainly in some nameless, formless entity dubbed “the Octopus” in this deeply depressing investigation.
Based in tax-shelter countries with no copyright or ownership laws, this tentacled beast is actually in the business of selling traffic—millions of users a day—with content that’s largely stolen or unlicensed. The deeper director-host Ovidie goes in search of the Octopus, with stops in Luxembourg, Germany, and Montreal, the murkier and scarier it gets. “Yay, capitalism,” is XXX star Stoya’s deadpan assessment.
She’s right—as Pornocracy makes abundantly clear, this is neoliberal global economics functioning precisely as it’s meant to, with only the pretense of any regulation, and a few billionaire predators at the top profiting grotesquely from a vast, abused slave class at the bottom, as we see when the film visits a “porn house” in Romania. The critique here is largely economic, but a precredit sequence leaves no room for ambivalence about the cost to humanity’s soul.