If Charles Dickens were to write a book about the current global economic situation, he'd be tempted to call it Hard Times. Except, of course, he'd be accused of plagiarising himself. Perhaps instead he could rewrite his classic opening line from A Tale of Two Cities to simply read: "It was the.... worst of times".
I bring up Dickens because hardship and toil is apparently what America's beloved pornography industry is facing, according to two heavyweights of the genre, Larry Flynt and Joe Francis. Despite the presence of the letters d, i, c and k in his surname, there's surely no other reason why I would link one of the English language's greatest storytellers to the people behind "the money shot".
(Mind you, you could argue that Dickens' popularising of the novel, via serialised installments of stories detailing 19th century trials and triumphs, could have set the groundwork for Flynt's popularising of the hard-core skin mag Hustler, and Francis' serialised installments of Girls Gone Wild. Also, I reckon Dickens was totally hot for Elizabeth Gaskell. North and South isn't just a book - it's sexual position.)
Flynt and Francis claim their $12 billion industry is not recession-proof, and consideration should be given to a bailout, akin to the type given to America's ailing car manufacturers. They reckon a hot cash injection of $5 billion is needed to ensure their continued success. In Flynt's words, they want the US Congress to "rejuvenate the sexual appetite of Americans" - in ways that nasal sprays just cannot deliver.
I for one welcome calls for increased funding to the other Silicon Valley. Personally, I'd like to see some of the lucre pumped into better quality scripts, with more plausible pool-boy related plots. And while the Rohypnol-fuelled adventures of college girls have made good fodder for Francis' Girls Gone Wild series so far, perhaps it's time he look seriously at increasing his special effects budget. You know, to get more bang for his buck.
It's now just eleven more sleeps until Barack Obama is inaugurated as President. Let's hope one of his priorities is fluffing the porn industry back to life. And let's hope he delivers the cash in the most appropriate fashion - with $5 billion worth of $20 bills stuffed down Larry Flynt and Joe Francis' underpants.