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Weekly schedule, past shows

Erik Wemple
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Posted at 03:48 PM ET, 02/03/2012

‘Nightline’ story on porn star rings mighty familiar to some


Porn star holds forth on journalism ethics. (COURTESY JAMES DEEN)
ABC’s “Nightline” yesterday did its patented treatment of 25-year-old porn star James Deen: in-depth reporting and interviewing en route to an excavation of key social issues. In a six-minute segment, reporter Cecilia Vega nailed all the salient points about this Internet sensation.

That he’s an average guy:

With his curly brown hair, soft blue eyes and fit body, this 25-year-old porn sensation from Pasadena, Calif., looks like he could be your neighbor, you classmate or that cute guy at the bar you’re hoping will catch your eye.

That he has a very young fan base:

“I’m kind of average, normal-looking, I don’t know, I’m approachable,” Deen said. And for that, the ladies, especially teenage girls, adore him.

That he’s not ripped.

[H]e is so “normal,” and doesn’t really look like he belongs in a world where gladiator-like, macho men are king and bigger is best.

That he doesn’t follow the porn-star script:

Make no mistake, critics and fans alike love his films, and they say Deen is different — a porn star who holds hands with his leading ladies, who gazes into their eyes and is quick to be romantic.

Burrito:

While we can’t talk too much about what’s posted on his blog, for obvious reasons, we can say that mixed in with photos of his well-endowed co-stars are tweets about the toast he ate for breakfast or the burrito he wants for lunch.

The dramatic highlight came when Vega pressed Deen on whether he bears some culpability for youngsters watching his X-rated stuff. Deen responded that teens are going to be interested in sex. Next issue, please?

A sliver of the American public was likely bored by the “Nightline” report. Those folks are the careful readers of Good magazine, a Los Angeles-based general-interest publication. In a long feature on Deen last November, Good staffer Amanda Hess nailed a few points about this 25-year-old porn star:

That he’s an average guy:

For the most normal guy in porn, porn has always been normal.

That he has a very young fan base:

Deen is not supposed to be the star of his scenes — his sex partners are. But on Tumblr, a network of teenage bloggers has emerged to turn the focus on him. The young women trade Deen videos, post candid photographs, and pluck out all the minute details that turn them on ...

That he’s not ripped:

He doesn’t work out.

That he doesn’t follow the porn-star script:

Deen’s young fans gush over the sight of him thrusting into a woman while holding her hand.

Burrito:

A week after I bring Deen a burrito, he tweets to his followers: “BRING ME A BURRITO!!!!!!!!!!!” Then three days later, “I am hungry. Bring me a burrito. . . . no really. Who is bringing me food?”

Parallels between the stories angered Hess, who tweeted last night:

“Hey @Nightline @ceciliavegaABC I liked your James Deen story better when I wrote it. http://bit.ly/vmEJtR

Hess asks: “When is TV news going to catch up with the rest of journalism and its norms for attribution? At the very least, ‘Nightline’s’ online version begs a link. It seems like TV is in the business of lifting stories from print and the web and is not going to change anytime soon, even when they are distributing their stories online, too.”

“Nightline” has this take: “Anyone that spends five minutes with James Deen would come up with these same observations.”

Now for an unparenthetical full disclosure: Hess is a treasured former colleague.

Sticking up for an old newsroom pal, however, isn’t the point here. Nor is it whacking “Nightline”; Friday afternoons are no time for journoscolderama. The point here is that this awesome chain of events allows us to sample the porn industry’s views on the ethics of journalism crediting, a vastly unexplored area of scholarship.

So, young porn star James Deen, do you think that there were intolerable similarities between the Good story and the “Nightline” piece? “There’s really not much there,” says Deen. “I’m a guy, I do porn. I’m apparently kind of normal. I have a fan base.”

So, young porn star James Deen, should “Nightline” have credited Good for the James Deen story? “I’ll watch scenes by another director and obviously that that director is stealing an idea that I already had,” he says. Okay, details please! Describe a scene, James Deen, that they ripped off from you. “There are tons. However, I’d rather not go into specifics because I don’t want it to come off as an accusation, and honestly they all could very well have been their own independent thoughts. I didn’t invent sex and many people can come up with the same sexual concepts.”

Says young porn star James Deen: “People copy people. . . . At the end of the day, who cares? In 20 years, is this what you’re going to be thinking about? Be happy and have fun.”

By  |  03:48 PM ET, 02/03/2012

 
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