Probably thinking of himself as being on the cutting edge of the civil rights struggle, rapper Snoop Dogg broke his ties with Mantra Entertainment - makers of the "Girls Gone Wild" videos - because it doesn't feature enough black and Hispanic girls getting naked.1
"Girls Gone Wild" is a perverted outgrowth of Reality TV. Producer Joe Francis has made a mint filming usually drunk females exposing themselves at beaches, bars and other public places.2 Francis enlisted Snoop to bring celebrity to his smut, but Snoop doesn't think Francis practices enough adults-only affirmative action.
"If you notice, there hasn't been no girls [of color] at all on none of those tapes," Snoop disjointedly told the Associated Press. "That ain't cool, because white girls ain't the only hos that get wild." Noting that black and Hispanic "hos" have been "complaining to me like crazy," he wants to produce his own line of dirty videos to "bring some flavor to the table."3
That might have to wait since Snoop and Francis are being sued by a girl who appeared on the cover of their "Girls Gone Wild Doggy Style" video. Jamie Capdeboscq alleges she was only 17 years old when they filmed her, and that she was plied with drugs so she would flash her breasts for the camera during a 2002 Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans.4
For Francis, this legal trouble is in addition to the 22 counts of racketeering, drugs and other illegal activities he has been charged with in Panama City, Florida.5 If convicted, he faces a possible 30 years in prison. Police raided a condo rented by Mantra this past April and seized 175 hours of footage from spring break parties. Parents have complained that their underage daughters were told to say they were over 18 on camera, and prosecutors say the footage contains alleged minors performing sex acts. A Francis attorney downplays the charges, commenting, "It doesn't become child pornography when you're just dealing with nudity."6
Girls Gone Wild commercials are a staple of late-night television, which advertise the videos for sale directly from the Francis's company. Since I thought purchasing directly from Francis created a barrier - albeit a thin one - that kept minors from purchasing the videos, I was surprised to recently find them on sale at my local Best Buy. The "Rugrats Go Wild" DVD in the children's section may be just steps away from Girls Gone Wild titles stacked at kid-high level in the miscellaneous section like "Sexy Sorority Sweethearts, Volume 2" and "Forbidden Spring Break."7 To prove Snoop wrong, by the way, Francis also offers "Black Girls Gone Wild: Funkin' at Freaknik."
Best Buy doesn't sell explicit pornography, but Girls Gone Wild is close. Their presence at a mainstream store makes it more likely these videos will get into the wrong little hands. Kids attempting to purchase one may be thwarted by a conscientious register clerk, but this still doesn't present an imposing barrier because Best Buy also sells over 70 Girls Gone Wild selections and similar titles through its web site, where kids can buy anonymously. They can even use the gift card they got from grandma.8
I checked out the web sites of similar retailers. Here's what I found:
To their credit, Circuit City, Target and Wal-Mart do not sell titles from the Girls Gone Wild collection.13
Bookstores usually keep dirty magazines on high shelves or behind counters away from children. Blockbuster refuses to rent NC-17 and hardcore adult videos altogether.14
While Snoop Dogg struggles to make the world of adult entertainment colorblind, it seems that many of our large-scale electronics chains are making it easier for these videos to get into the hands of impressionable kids.
Don't want your kids to be exposed to Girls Gone Wild filth? Here's an idea: don't patronize stores that sell it. Block their retail sites as you would a porn site.
When it hits them in the pocketbook,
maybe then they'll get the point.
David Almasi is executive director
of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington,
D.C. think tank. Comments may be sent to [email protected].
1 "Snoop Dogg: Where Are the Topless Black
Girls?" Associated Press, June 24, 2003, available at http://cbs11tv.com/entertainment_story_175161144.html/resources_storyPrintableView
as of June 25, 2003.