Cam Girlz (2015)
Release Date: March 26th, 2015 MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Sean Dunne Actors: @aella_girl, @abbey_rhode, @adorableyogi, @alliegirlygirl, @ameliatwist, @gingervitis23
t begins with a woman in a sexualized mime getup, acting out a striptease to a webcam, as if to show a double-layered piece of erotica – one for provoking a question of symbolization and one for simple visual stimulation. In many ways, the documentary as a whole serves a correspondingly dual purpose. By showing clips of nudity, the film represents pornographic input; by supplementing this footage with voiceover narration and commentary by the instigants, it becomes an examination of the mentality and motivation behind the acts themselves.
Here, “camming” is basically performing any intimate deed live on the internet, while potentially thousands of subscribers watch the routines. Nudity is almost always a factor – though the girlfriend/companionship-only angle supposedly makes up a percentage of the girls’ incomes. The clientele is mostly too shy to type a response on their computers, although more adventurous users type requests and transmissions and interact as if they’re involved in a substantive relationship. The women on film insist that they’re real, normal, intelligent, empowered, and certainly not exploited. They’re rendering services, creating a fantasy, and getting paid. At the very least, they’re more than comfortable with their bodies.
Apparently, no one is getting hurt. But, of course, that’s the most controversial aspect: is someone involved being abused or exploited? Or is this all genuinely harmless? As long as they’re doing it by their own design and desire, what’s the problem? Surely, those that partook in “Cam Girlz” did so of their own volition (not everyone in the industry is a product of emotional and sexual abuse), but decidedly more nefarious entities and victims certainly populate the world of monetized sex streams – though that is not covered (or of concern) in the scope of this documentary.
“The most important thing is to be online.” Intriguingly, the element of marketing is addressed, with the many subjects considering their initiatives entirely entrepreneurial. The entertainment value, a knowledge of the audience, and an understanding of the product are crucial components of the business. Most of the girls wish to fill a niche to avoid dullness; apparently, boring sex scenarios are of less value. Most revelatory are the cammers’ appreciation for being their own bosses and finding financial success that surpasses that of more customary jobs. $75,000 a month for the top performing models is nothing to scoff at; obviously, sex sells. And there is also a surprisingly expansive array of performers, running the gamut of body types and ages and even the wildness of the programs. One in particular involves elaborate costumes and creepy ventriloquist puppet interactions.
Most of the footage is snippets of the shows, which, when devoid of narration, are mere sexual images (pole-dancing, masturbation, showering, fondling) for the sake of sexual images. This will, undoubtedly, prevent “Cam Girlz” from being a film that can reach a wide audience. Furthermore, the plodding pacing, with its focus on visuals over a more philosophical debate on the topic, diminishes the potential for a truly inspirational analyzation. Few breakthroughs or eye-opening viewpoints are scrutinized, succumbing instead to generally trivial blurbs of individual ideals on achievement and emancipation from the entry-level employment rat race.
Eventually, the alternating shots of naked women curiously gives way to a few male users, who admit that watching cam girls builds confidence, substitutes for communications at the typical bar or strip club, and helps them explore their sexuality. One man misguidedly believes he’s accruing genuine, intimate connections. That is, sadly, the major fallacy. For the girl, it’s an act, a chiefly invented personality; they’re paid to be enthusiastic about their erotic endeavors. In a real life situation, they’d certainly behave differently. The degree of anonymity (as evidenced by suggestive screen names), as long as it exists, is the only protection – and also the catalyst for more dangerous follow-ups. Yet this predicament is only touched upon by a single model, with just a couple of sentences.
“You have to have a lot of self confidence.” Obviously, online sex shows are still a taboo topic. The girls here attribute this to a lack of communication and education about sex in general. Promiscuity is shunned and intercourse is demonized; open-mindedness is a difficult concept to propagate, especially when old-fashioned traditions and religion still immoderately dictate the forms of acceptable professions. It’s an amusing subject, but executed with a distinct lifelessness, a lack of technical and editing verve, a tonal flatness, and a failure to movingly illustrate the various personas that frequent the picture. It’s commendably beyond (quite graphically) the uninspired standard of talking heads, but it’s nevertheless wanting for depth and potency, regardless of the compelling nature of the issue.
– Mike Massie