In The Main

Posted by JonWoods JonWoods
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NOTE: The images in this blog entry are not mine. However, since they are being used in a commentary, it is my firm belief that this falls under the umbrella of Fair Use. If any of the copyright holders feel differently and ask me to remove any of them, I will do so immediately.

A little while back on http://brianspage.com (the long-running mainstream bondage discussion page) there was a brief thread on mainstream versus commercial bondage scenes. It wasn't a big surprise that everyone commenting on it stated their preference for the mainstream. And that's their opinion. However I believe some of the comments and criticism of us in the commercial sector were uninformed, or at least under-informed.

I had conflicting feelings about writing about this. Realistically, I don't expect to change anyone's mind, so it may be pointless. But on the other hand, I've probably produced more homages, parodies and recreations of mainstream scenes than any other English-language bondage producer over the course of my career, so I feel I may be a little better qualified to address this topic than most. Like most bondage fans I have a genuine affinity for those scenes since, like most of us, that was the source for my psychological imprinting for our favorite fetish.

The acting in commercial bondage videos is frequently criticized. For the most part, I think the  models do a remarkable job with what they're given — which is frequently not much. The mainstream actress has to act distressed for a few seconds of screen-time on average. The bondage models have to sustain their character being in distress and keep it interesting for the duration of the scene, anywhere from six to 12  minutes on average. The mainstream damsel has a long time to prepare, while her commercial bondage counterpart has no rehearsal and usually only one take.

Other complaints were about the lack of plot and suspense. These days customers are paying roughly a dollar a minute for a video, and they don't want to spend several dollars on non-bondage content. (But hey, if a big build-up is your thing, many bondage producers offer custom work.) It's a very different market now than the days of VHS tapes when we had an hour to fill and we could take more time to develop a story. The mainstream fans aren't satisfied with the lack of peril. But the government/merchant banks/Visa won't allow bondage producers to use guns, knives, chloroform or any number of other things that are available for non-adult entertainment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=092QC0GYYw4 They griped about the production values. When bondage companies are going extinct because of tube sites and rampant file sharing, it's difficult enough to pay the models and stay in business let alone strive for improving production values. If you want better quality, start paying for your porn.

Speaking of which, over the years the writing and quality of TV has become much better, but the damsel-in-distress scenes have suffered greatly because of it. By the way, I'm referring to the adventure and drama type programs. I doubt sitcoms have changed significantly, except the season is only about half as many episodes as they used to be (and thus have 50% fewer chances for any bondage scenes in them, as if they had any). On the one hand we've come to expect shows that are like 40-minute big-budget movies with 20 minutes of ads (hour-long for non-network programming, of course). But with the evolution of better writing and cinematography, more realism is expected -- and rightfully so. Because of changing sensibilities in TV and movies as well, the damsel-in-distress scenes are not as pretty or sexy any more. Usually they're dimly-lit, poorly framed, and/or the woman looks horrible. That's exemplified by this commonly-seen practice: Quite a few bloggers or fans of mainstream damsel scenes will have side-by-side photos of a given actress. The left photo will be a glamour shot or more normal photo showing how the woman looks at her best. The right photo is her bondage scene, and in many cases you wouldn't have guessed it was the same person, if you can even see there's someone in that murky screen-shot. I've created my own example of this below with Aubrey Plaza. You can see she's a lovely woman in the left photo. The right photo is from her damsel scene in "Child's Play" -- which one Brian's Page fan declared was his favorite scene of the year. Again, his opinion. Or maybe bondage  is evolving and an attractive woman looking like crap has become an accepted part of the fetish now.



It's a fortunate convergence of events for the mainstream bondage fans that they now have previously undreamed-of access to international scenes, and many other countries don't seem to make their damsels look god-awful, or avoid damsel scenes altogether. And these days it seems like most of the scenes the Brian's Page guys are sharing are foreign. I can only surmise the build up of suspense and acting transcends the language barrier for them.

I fully understand their desire to see that gorgeous actress that they've been watching for weeks or possibly years on end finally get tied up. But if it ultimately does happen, it's almost invariably disappointing. That's why those shitbag photomanipulators will steal commercial bondage photos to make a more idealized image of their favorite actress in the ropes, even if she's already had a scene or two (or more).

At the risk of sounding like an old fart yearning for those golden days of yesteryear, I'm not impressed with what the mainstream fans are excited about these days.  Because of the way most damsel-in-distress scenes are handled in mainstream entertainment currently, I don't actively seek them out, nor have I seen anything outstanding in quite a long time. But that's just my opinion.  

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Veeshan Veeshan
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Re: In The Main

My theory is DiD evolved: campy was out and "realistic" was in, speaking from audience tastes.  Realistically, if someone was forcibly bound and upset, they probably wouldn't be looking their best (running makeup, messed up hair, etc). DiD also developed more of a horror aspect, probably driven in part by films like Saw or Hostel, which while they contained some great scenes (the inverted ballgag suspension from Hostel 2 especially, before she gets sliced up.  The "freeze room" from Saw 3 was also decent), focused more on it as a thing to be horrified by.

Not really DiD, but the short lived Showtime show "Submission" was pretty good from a bondage perspective (it was their attempt at a 50 Shades of Grey-ish TV show).  They actually had some people in the bondage community serve as consultants and at least 1 acted in it.  The 5th or 6th episode had probably the best mainstream mummification scene in recent memory.
morpheus morpheus
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Re: In The Main

In reply to this post by JonWoods
I couldn't agree more with your assessment of the current state of mainstream bondage scenes. The same is true for chloroform scenes. On the rare occasions they happen, they're either shot in murky locations or cut so short you could blink and miss them.

As for the institutional ban on "extreme" peril such as the threat of weapons or the aforementioned chloroform, it's ridiculous and hypocritical, especially given that the credit card companies are happy to sponsor programs that feature far worse treatment of captive characters. But I want to commend you on taking a stand. I appreciate your efforts to publicize the issue and am happy to support your member site. Thanks very much, Jon.