[Moans, Groans, Slurping]: The Politics of Captioning Pornography
CSWS Noon Talk / February 26th, 12-1:30 PM
Jane Grant Room / Hendricks 330
On June 27th, 2018 Pornhub announced it was launching a closed caption (CC) category on its website which would help serve its d/Deaf and hard of hearing viewers. In 2020, Pornhub is being sued for a lack of closed captioning by a deaf user. Most of the discourse on the newly formed Closed Caption category has been relegated to mainstream internet outlets positioning the CC feature as an oddity, a marketing tactic, or a joke. These outlets' jokes regarding the use of CC are built upon the infantilization of people with disabilities and a narrow focus on how pleasure is experienced.
In this talk, English PhD student Celeste Reeb examines the Pornhub CC archive to understand how it helps to con-struct and normalize certain pleasures over others while offering ways to challenge dominant discourses of pleasure. Captioning is an important factor in pleasure which requires rethinking who watches porn and where pleasure is found. This talk uses feminist disability frameworks to examine CC for pornographic media and investigates the labor performed by female actresses, the way pleasure is derived from online pornography, the rhetoric surrounding disability and pleasure, and what bodies are presumed to experience pleasure. Closed captioning helps to reposition sexual pleasure in terms of outside of bodies valued by normative heterosexuality
Reeb received the prestigious 2019-20 Jane Grant Dissertation Fellowship from CSWS for her dissertation topic, “Closed Captioning: Reading Between the Lines.” She also received the English department’s 2019 Rudolf Ernst Award, a fellowship given annually to a single PhD candidate.