When I first heard about the Mood Pictures / Elite Pain (Mood/EP) raid, I didn’t think anything of it. Actually, I already saw the storyline for Mood’s next film after the whole affair would have been cleared up, maybe titled "Extreme Porn". The story would have been like this: Two beautiful, young but starving girls answer to a newspaper advertisement, promising them good money for an erotic photo and video shoot. They end up in the arms of a vile film crew (consisting of three equally beautiful and young girls) who abuse poor girls for the production of extremely hard spanking movies. Once in the studio the two girls are immediately tied down and thrashed with a strap and a cane. But help is already on the way in form of a SWAT team (a man and two young dommes in oversized uniforms) storming the building and taking the sinister film crew down. They decide to give the film crew a taste of their own medicine. And so the movie ends with three more severe beatings and justice is served once again…
But then it became more and more clear that this obviously wasn’t just a little intermezzo. It rather seems to be the end of the company. I haven’t taken part in the discussions that followed the news about the raid, yet. However, I wrote down my thoughts three weeks ago. At first I planned to post them as a comment on Ludwig’s Mood Pictures Raided By Police post. But I had so many things on my mind that the final text was much too long for publishing it as a comment. I finally decided to post it as the next edition of Kaelah’s Corner, although the discussion has almost ended by now. But it’s a very personal piece of writing and posting it is important for me. So, here it goes:
I’ve been reluctant to take part in the discussion about the Mood/EP raid, not because it doesn’t move me, but because I have so many thoughts on my mind and I’m deeply emotionally involved in the whole affair. So, my comment will be very personal and not only analytical and impartial. Since my position is neither 100 per cent pro Mood/EP nor against them, I’m afraid that people on both sides might misinterpret my statements. But the topic dominates my thoughts so much that it keeps me from doing other things which are more important from an objective point of view. So, I finally decided to write down my ideas on the topic and to sort out my mind. I’ll try to separate personal thoughts about Mood/EP’s products (which to my mind might influence my point of view in the discussion and therefore should be mentioned, but can’t be a base for judging the current case) from the moral/ethical and legal issues (which are the really important points of the discussion).
My personal relationship and thoughts about Mood/EP:
I have to admit that this company was one of the reasons I’ve shed lots of tears during the last year. I don’t know how often I cried about Mood/EP related issues, but I’m very sure that I’ve shed x-times as many tears as all the girls together in one of their films. The reason for that is quite simple: While Ludwig is a (albeit critical) fan of especially Mood’s work, their newer movies are far beyond my personal limits concerning the severity of the beatings and the marks. So, when I watched the trailers of Inmates part one and two, the movie in which Ludwig worked as a top for Mood Pictures, it made me cry heavily. The same happened more than once, when I read one of Ludwig’s reviews highly praising a certain scene and then looked at the pictures going along with it. My gut feel told me that this looked too extreme, but since I hadn’t done such a severe scene myself, I knew that I wasn’t in a position to judge the movies.
And a lot of facts didn’t support my bad feeling, for example the medical aftercare and Ludwig’s first hand experiences of the girls making jokes after the spankings were over. I desperately wanted to understand (and preferably even share) Ludwig’s enthusiasm, but instead I just felt very sad when I read something about the films or saw some pictures. I couldn’t even watch Inmates, because I knew I would end up crying and choking. Even worse, I also felt threatened by the movies. While Ludwig has been critical about certain aspects about Mood/EP, some of their (especially older) movies contain some of his favourite spanking scenes on film. In his reviews he often complimented the girls for their beauty and erotic reactions. So, from my point of view, those girls gave my boyfriend an erotic stimulation I wasn’t able to give him. It made me feel inferior to those girls and caused a lot more tears, although Ludwig always told me that our sexual experiences were completely different from and much more important than watching a movie and that whether or not I would one day do such a hard scene wasn’t important for our relationship as mates.
Still, all those different thoughts and emotions remained there. So, I finally decided that there was only one way out of the dilemma: Doing a Mood-style fifty strokes caning myself. Only that way would I be able to judge the movies based on personal experiences instead of a vague gut feel, maybe reduce the problems I had with the movies and at the same time give Ludwig a very special present and hopefully feel equal to the models afterwards. I did the scene December last year and wrote about it in the January edition of Kaelah’s Corner. My first hope did come true, I now feel much more capable of judging the severity of the movies.
Unfortunately, aim number two and three weren’t achieved. First of all, my reactions weren’t as sexy as the reactions of some of the girls starring in the movie scenes Ludwig likes best. The whole scene from his point of view was as sexy as those scenes. But still, my reactions were (partially) not as sexy as those of some models. Well, given the fact that Mood/EP have made hundreds of scenes and I had just one shot this isn’t much of a surprise, is it? But still, the feeling of the movies remaining threatening didn’t fade. The thought of Ludwig telling me about a new scene in one of the movies that blew him away or guest-starring in another Mood film scared me to death. And the problems I had with the bad gut feel about the films? Well, after having done my own severe scene I watched both parts of Inmates. And I didn’t cry once during the whole movie! Unfortunately, I cried like mad afterwards… The only difference is now, that I can clearly distinguish the parts that have to do with my personal taste from those parts that have to do with moral issues I have with their practises. So, time to change to that more objective (and concerning the current issue only important) part of the discussion.
My appraisal of different moral/judicial aspects concerning Mood/EP:
Employing vanilla models:
To my mind, this is neither a legal nor a moral issue. We are talking about the production of a spanking porn movie, aren’t we? In my opinion this is nothing but a business. The girls are hired by the producer for a job that’s specified in a contract signed by both parties. Having fun isn’t part of a business contract, as far as I know. It sure isn’t in the contract I have with my employer… Of course I can understand that many people find spanking movies with kinky models much more interesting. And it would also be easier for me to have a good feeling about the films if I could tell myself that the girls were enjoying it because they were kinky. But I don’t see any moral issues against hiring vanillas. And, by the way, not every kinky girl would enjoy such a hard scene, either. I certainly didn’t enjoy that fifty strokes caning! I even was afraid that in case it turned out to be a very negative experience it might influence my whole kink and my sexual life negatively. Luckily, it didn’t turn out to be that bad, but it could have happened…
Financial situation of the models:
This is a point Ludwig is very concerned of. He even asked Pedro about the reasons why the girls worked for Mood/EP and whether they desperately needed the money, before he decided to work for them as a top. Pedro told him that most of the girls didn’t need the money to earn their basic living, they used it as some extra money. I have to admit that I wouldn’t even have objections against hiring girls who haven’t a huge financial background as long as they don’t do it out of the combination of a) starving and b) having no alternative job they could do in order to earn their basic living. As long as the girls have a real choice whether they want to do a job like that or not I don’t have any moral objections against hiring them.
This is one of the most important aspects in my view. To me informed consent requires two things: The girls have to be told and / or shown precisely what they sign up for and they must have the chance to quit any time they want. I think the first point is widely agreed upon, but the second point has been discussed from different points of view. The question was: Is it okay when the girls sign a contract explicitly excluding the use of a safeword or, in other words, can they consent to a certain number of strokes in advance without being given the chance to stop the whole thing during the spanking. I’m of the opinion that, talking about a job for a company, the answer must be no!
Again, we are not talking about a private BDSM-session, in which a bottom wants to make a special experience by playing without a safeword. We are talking about the production of commercial spanking porn. In this context the only reason for not using a safeword would be to protect the producer from not being able to use a scene because the girl decided to quit. And to my mind, the safety and the freedom of choice of the employee in this case is more important than the business interests of the company. I’m of the opinion that a company has to take more care for the safety of their employees than people might do in a similar private situation. This also applies to all the different businesses in the world. For example: When I decide to clean my windows using an old rickety latter that’s my free choice. But a window cleaning company using the same method could be sued for not providing their employees with safe equipment.
But, how have the practises of Mood/EP really been? When Ludwig worked for them, he was told that they didn’t have any safewords. Instead, they had a nurse looking after the girls’ condition and stopping a scene if necessary. From my point of view, this is morally objectionable, because the nurse can’t really see the mental state of a girl she doesn’t know and therefore the girls must have a chance to stop the scene.
In practice, of course, the girls did have the chance to stop a scene, as Ludwig experienced. They just had to talk to the producer out of character and the scene was interrupted. That happened several times during Ludwig’s shoot. No moral objections, then? I don’t think so. After having done a Mood-style caning myself I can tell you that for me it was a very extreme situation, both physically and mentally. Short message to all the guys out there rambling about Mood/EP not being extreme because there are even more extreme films out there: Please, go to the dominatrix next door and try it yourself before shouting your mouth off! The same applies of course to all those who condemn Mood/EP without having a clue what they are talking about.
I am kinky and I had been spanked before (I even had tasted a few equally hard strokes before), but 50 very hard strokes is something completely different. I wasn’t able to predict my reactions and mindset, and I guess that the reactions and mindset can also differ very much at different times. The situation was so demanding that I wasn’t able to communicate my physical and mental status in a differentiated manner, like I can under normal circumstances. That’s why I am of the opinion that there must be a very clear and very easy to remember safeword to protect the models.
Maybe 99 per cent of them won’t need it because they are very well capable of calling the name of the director when they need a break. But, again, I have moral objections against low safety standards, especially in an environment where the models make themselves that vulnerable. There even was one situation during Ludwig’s shoot which proves my point of view: Tammy, the second girl he was caning, asked for a break several times by starting a discussion with the director. A few strokes before the caning was over she shouted “Stop!" again. This time she didn’t directly start a discussion out of character, though. She remained silent afterwards. It wasn't clear that she really wanted to interrupt the scene. So, the assistant director gave Ludwig a sign to continue, and he gave Tammy the last couple of strokes.
We discussed that topic a long time ago and I told Ludwig that to my mind it wasn’t okay to continue in that unclear situation. He agreed and also wrote about the change in his point of view in several comments already. Obviously, the girl was alright afterwards. She did a second movie with Mood a short time later. But still, I have moral objections against company practises that lead to such borderline situations.
The current accusations are very different from Ludwig’s experiences. The woman says that she hadn’t been informed accurately of what was laying ahead of her and that a safeword which both sides explicitly agreed upon was ignored. I don’t know the Hungarian laws, but I’m quite sure that if those accusations are true, it isn’t only a moral but also definitely a legal issue. The thing is, however, that although I’m very critical about Mood/EP, it doesn’t seem to be very realistic. As I’ve written above there have been borderline situations which I already find morally objectionable, but there has been a chance to get a break or to quit (one of the girls at Ludwig’s shoot quit after only a few strokes). Well, according to Pedro’s mail the scene as well as an interview that was made beforehand are on tape, so it should be quite easy to reveal the truth!
I already mentioned the models’ safety in the context of safewords. There are more aspects belonging into that category: Cleanliness, medical care and the risk of permanent harm. From Ludwig’s report about his shoot it seems that concerning the first two points Mood has been exemplary. Canes weren’t allowed to lie on the floor because that would have increased the risks of one of the models getting an infection. And there was the nurse who looked after the girls and applied medical aftercare when a scene was over.
But concerning the risk of permanent bodily harm I have objections against Mood’s practises. First of all, the insecurity and inaccuracy of some of their tops caused a higher risk of strokes hitting delicate spots like the kidneys. That was also one of Ludwig’s strongest critical arguments concerning Mood’s practises. And they did severe whippings on the lower back and things like that, which to my mind caused unacceptable risks for the models. These safety issues in combination with the safeword discussion are the reasons why I have been of the opinion that Mood/EP shouldn’t be allowed to continue to produce movies the way they did.
In the current accusations these safety issues don’t seem to be mentioned. We’ll have to see how far these things are used in the trial in favour or against Mood/EP. It seems that the presence of a nurse has already been mentioned negatively: "They were so brutal, they even needed a nurse." I definitely have a completely different view on that point, for me it is one of the things that speak for Mood/EP.
Legal situation in Hungary:
I have to admit that I don’t know the legal situation concerning the porn production in Hungary. Is producing severe spanking porn legal in Hungary? I think the trial will give us an answer to that question. I don’t want to speculate on that point without the knowledge that would be necessary for that discussion.
My personal conclusions:
Given my personal taste and thoughts about Mood/EP and the moral issues I have with their work, I should be one of the happiest persons in the world now that they seem to be history. However, I am not! I would have been very glad if someone had checked their practises and given them additional requirements in order to increase the models’ safety and reduce the risk of one of the girls suffering harm. Furthermore, I had hoped that they would have reduced the severity of their movies at least a bit in the future (to the severity level they had a few years ago). My biggest aesthetic issue was that the beatings had become constantly more severe (leading to heavier, bloodier and longer lasting marks) without rewarding the higher suffering of the girls by putting more effort into producing a high quality product concerning the shoot of the action scenes and the surrounding story. But, as I already said, that is just personal taste. Due to the moral and especially safety aspects discussed above I didn’t approve of Mood’s current practises and was of the opinion that they shouldn’t be allowed to go on like that. But had I been sure that the models’ safety was intensely taken care of, then I would have preferred Mood/EP to exist as long as they would have liked to.
The main reason I’m not happy now is that it seems to me that this isn’t about objectively inspecting Mood/EP’s practises as producers of spanking porn, like did they do enough for the safety of their employees, did they give them the free choice to quit whenever they wanted and so on. The accusations, the TV-team accompanying the SWAT team, the contradictory records, Pedro’s mails – it all doesn’t really fit. If the accusations are true then to my mind it is completely okay that Mood/EP are history. But somehow I’ve got the feeling that Mood/EP have already been found guilty even before the evidence is secured and checked. So, I’m sitting here with a very bad gut feeling and some personal and some moral issues, this time against how the case "Mood/EP" is dealt with…