Porn Entrepeneurship Teaches Students About Free Markets

Porn Entrepeneurship Teaches Students About Free Markets

The Carnegie Mellon’s School of Art is now offering a Spring 2015 course in “Internet Resistance,” a class dedicated to disrupting the Internet. And creating new porn.

The class was designed by university educator Paolo Pedercini, a self-described radical video game designer, leftist activist and media production expert. The syllabus describes the course as, “both a schizo-seminar about critical issues in cyberculture and a trans-media studio course to develop terrible ideas for the networked society. Through booms and crashes, colonizations and disruptions, IPOs and LOLZ, Internet has been a spectacular laboratory of social conflict.”

The goal is to challenge artists to “do more than tweak their portfolios and sink into the social media malaise” of the Internet. Grading is simple. “A if you can demonstrate it aroused some people, C if already exists,” the syllabus says. 29 of the registered students use a closed Facebook group, an anonymous imageboard and tumblr to collect artwork and case studies.

During an interview with Vice.com writer Ben Richmond Pedercini said that he wants his students to ask themselves, “How can I come up with something new when everything has been done?”

“Artists may not be always capable of implementing actual alternatives but they can explore glitches, failures and breakdowns,” he explained. “They can work with the absurd, over-identify with the adversary, warn about troubling future trends. In a world of problem-solvers, artists have to play the role of problem-makers.”

As Richmond observed, it’s not just the role of problem-makers these students are playing, but the class sets the stage for students to essentially become overnight pornographers. By exploring the limits of fetishism, the students seek to challenge “Rule 34”, or the idea that if something exists, there is porn on the Internet for it. They are also, quite ironically, learning how to compete and innovate solutions to market demand. Like capitalists.

In addition to this course, Pedercini teaches experimental game design and media production courses for Carnegie Mellon’s Art school. He also publishes as Molleindustria, a design platform that produced To Build a Better Mousetrap, an interactive anti-capitalist “management game”. The play places users as bosses of a faceless corporation. The goal: manipulate hiring, wages, exploiting your employees and profit like a filthy profiteer.

Buzzfeed covered the game saying it arrived at a “propitious moment” because, “Marx is in. Left-ish literary journals are flourishing. Marxist economic critiques of the limits of neoliberal capitalism are ubiquitous. And Pedercini’s game, a simple and savage little number released on International Worker’s Day, fits right in.”

The online pornography industry is anything but a Marxist playground, however. The industry rakes in $13 billion dollars annually and demand is unlikely to plateau in the near future. New markets emerge at rapid pace and as producers meet the need, they continue to feed the consumer’s hunger.

Which leaves one to wonder: if the free market is considered an unregulated communication of consumer demands with competing producers and maximum profits, CMU and its Marxist educator could be unintentionally molding tomorrow’s porn capitalists. Any irony that we hope isn’t lost on the students.

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