The Aestheticization of the Real Body in Porn and Politics

On 4 November 2008, election day in the United States, Hustler released the pornographic film Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?, which referred to the female Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. Labelled a misogynistic response to women in power, or at best a weak and ineffectual parody, it was largely dismissed. However by critically examining the film, we can see that it is a celebration of the idea of Sarah Palin, but a critique of the reality. This critique was summarised by Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s off the cuff remark during his election campaign —“you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig” (as cited in Zimmer, 2008). Obama was referring to the rapid transformation of Palin after she was nominated as Vice Presidential  candidate for the Republican Party. The category “pig” that Obama was referring to is the white, working class conservative. Hustler’s production was at once an attack on Palin’s willingness to become a Pygmalion figure for the Republican Party and a celebration and validation of the group to which she belonged. Ultimately, Who’s Nailin’ Paylin? (2008) suggests that contemporary politics and pornography use many of the same techniques and tactics to break through the image and generate a sense of immediacy and reality.