How do adult films like "Star Wars XXX" get away with it?
September 30, 2011 1:22 AM   Subscribe

How do adult films like "Star Wars XXX" get away with it?

Surely George Lucas doesn't want it? Are they making deals and paying licensing fees to 20th Century Fox?

How does this work?
posted by Meatbomb to Media & Arts (20 answers total)

 
It's a parody. Fair Use rules apply.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:38 AM on September 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


I always understood it that way as well. It's a parody. Same way Weird Al gets to do what he does. So if someone wanted to do a parody called "Metafilter XXX", they could probably get away with it.

Maybe.

With special guest, "Meatbomb"?
posted by chillmost at 1:50 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Besides the parody angle, there's also the original filmmaker --- like Lucas --- not wanting to call attention to the XXX film: the porn producer would LOVE being sued, for all the free publicity.
posted by easily confused at 2:05 AM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess what gets me about the parody angle is how much they are able to completely rip off everything. There are stormtroopers, there is Chewbacca...

So what is stopping me from making say "Star Wars Jerks" which is a parody because Luke Skywalker is a snarky asshole? I would sell "Luke Skyjerk" t-shirts and X-Wing toys piloted by Luke Skyjerk...

I am not a fan of IP and copyright but this just seems so out of step with the way everything else works in the entertainment industry...
posted by Meatbomb at 2:24 AM on September 30, 2011


There was a Seinfeld one that did the rounds online a year or two ago. There was even a version with all the porn taken out just so you could enjoy the parody parts. They billed it quite specifically as "Seinfeld: A XXX Parody". No linking but it's at seinfeldxxx.com. They're doing The Office, Big Lebowski, and Scrubs, all in a similar manner.
posted by wackybrit at 2:44 AM on September 30, 2011


Parody was recognized by the Supreme Court as constituting fair use in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569 (1994).

Note that fair use doesn't really apply to trademarks. So they can use characters, settings, and even names to a certain extent, but they can't--and don't--use any Lucasfilm logos. Even the "Star Wars" title has been modified a bit. It's obvious what it's supposed to be, which is fine, but it's also obvious that this isn't coming out of Skywalker Ranch, which is the point.
posted by valkyryn at 3:17 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Episode 4 of the Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show features an interview with one of the major porn parody directors. They address this question (although I forget where).
posted by Midnight Rambler at 4:36 AM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


The MGM movie Spaceballs also had take-offs on Darth, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, etc. There is simply no real strong copyright or trademark case against this sort of parody.
posted by exogenous at 6:25 AM on September 30, 2011


The much harsher copyright rules in the UK mean that these things do get copyright flak - example of Dalek Porn.
posted by Coobeastie at 8:44 AM on September 30, 2011


I guess what gets me about the parody angle is how much they are able to completely rip off everything. There are stormtroopers, there is Chewbacca...

Technically speaking, the Star Wars franchise (both the movies and extended universe) has been primarily composed of speculative fanfic bearing wildly varying degrees of official sanction and/or aesthetic quality ever since the first film came out in 1977. In my mind, if George Lucas can effectively rip off his own creation for 30+ years, then there's very little that's truly wrong with me or you or some parody porn studio doing the same.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:07 AM on September 30, 2011


The much harsher copyright rules in the UK mean that these things do get copyright flak - example of Dalek Porn.

That link actually has a good example of how they "get away" with it - if you'll note the poster, the monster looks almost-but-not-quite like a Dalek, and -- despite the article stating the title is "Attack of the Daleks" -- is named "Attack of the DalOIDS". It gives the creators an "out" -- "see, look, we're not talking about DalEKS! It says right on the label!"

Although it is kind of a gray area. As long as they don't REALLY try to pass themselves off as a geniuine Lucasfilm production, or as long as there's a REASONABLE chance someone would be able to ascertain that "oh, no, this isn't a formal Star Wars thing," they're probably okay as a parody.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:22 AM on September 30, 2011


So what is stopping me from making say "Star Wars Jerks" which is a parody because Luke Skywalker is a snarky asshole? I would sell "Luke Skyjerk" t-shirts and X-Wing toys piloted by Luke Skyjerk...

You mean "Star Jerks," with "Y-Wing" toys piloted by "Luke Skyjerk."

Avoiding infringing on trademarks is key--and porn parodies are generally pretty good at that (I once watched a Trek porn with character names like "Jean-Luc Prickhard"). Also, it needs to be clear that your intent is to parody--a comment upon the original work, rather than just a different-in-name-only rip-off. As wikipedia states: "In 2007, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a fair use defense in the Dr. Seuss Enterprises v. Penguin Books case. Citing the Campbell v. Acuff-Rose decision, they found that a satire of the O.J. Simpson murder trial and parody of The Cat in the Hat had infringed upon the children's book because it did not provide a commentary function upon that work.[2][3]"
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:37 AM on September 30, 2011


So what is stopping me from making say "Star Wars Jerks" which is a parody because Luke Skywalker is a snarky asshole? I would sell "Luke Skyjerk" t-shirts and X-Wing toys piloted by Luke Skyjerk...

Fair Use is a tricky subject because, by definition, the rules are subjective. A federal judge must be consulted for any action to actually be levied against you.

There are four tests a judge could look at.

* the purpose and character of your use
* the nature of the copyrighted work
* the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
* the effect of the use upon the potential market.

So, your argument would be:

* I'm holding up Star Wars for ridicule.
* Star Wars is a massive, worldwide franchise that everyone already knows about.
* I'm creating T-shirts and toys featuring my own art that presents itself as an obvious parody of the original.
* This couldn't possibly derail the massive Star Wars commercial juggernaut.

The one thing I would say about "Luke Skyjerk" is that is has to be a actual parody. You have to comment upon the original. You'd have less of a leg to stand on if you presented Luke Skyjerk as an honest-to-goodness, sincerely filmed space opera.

This is a parody: Thumb Wars. So is this: Spaceballs.

This is not: The Last Starfighter. This movie really means it, so while it has the tropes of a film like Star Wars (ordinary kid discovers he's destined for space adventure), there are no direct Star Wars references.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:33 AM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


You mean "Star Jerks," with "Y-Wing" toys piloted by "Luke Skyjerk."

Y-Wings are part of Star Wars already- They were the other type of starfighter that attacked the death star in the first movie. Slow, but very reliable bomber. Also taken: A-wing (Fast attack), B-Wing (Heavy bomber, some show in the 3rd movie, not sure if they were added later), E-Wing (Some stupid thing from the books) and probably a few other letters.

P-Wing is also open. Just make it look more phallic and it would fit the parody just fine.

....Ok, one of my first Aspergers obsessions was Star Wars, and to date is the longest, strongest one I've had. They also published the obession-riffic Guide to Vehicles and Vessels that I read so many times the plastic peeled off the cover. (Those are really well made books for softcover by the way). I can't think of how many thousands of hours I spent pouring over that and adding each and every ship to a space battle in my head, one by one. *ahem* I'll let the thread get back on topic now.
posted by Canageek at 11:13 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Strictly opinion, but I think the fact that the creators in question 1) have enough money to effectively resist a lawsuit, 2) get in enough legal trouble that they tend to have experience with litigation and lawyers on retainer, 3) would have every incentive to use a high profile lawsuit to increase the visibility of their product, and 4) as all above have noted have a reasonable legal defense of their product means there are some very big disincentives to pursuing it legally. At the moment George Lucas' name is really only connected in theory with Star Wars XXX, and the mainstream media isn't all that likely to report on it because, you know, they'd basically just be reporting on porno. George Lucas brings a big lawsuit, the mainstream media would be all over it.
posted by nanojath at 11:22 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wrote the screenplay for The Breakfast Club - A XXX Parody. (Directed by Lee Roy Meyers, interviewed in the Jeff Rubin link above.)

When I submitted my first draft, I had titled it "The Fuckfest Club." His response (partial sentence) was "...if you have some time to finish Breakfast Club - A XXX Parody (that's how we name 'em now...very careful names)."

One of the eye opening things about the experience is that the margins are razor thin. Contrary to what nanojath said, the porn industry not (currently flush) is (in it's way) incredibly careful about avoiding legal trouble, as simple lawyer fees from a lawsuit defending yourself in a case that is clearly protected by parody and fair use will eat up any profits in a heartbeat.

That's why the dearth of creative names (each studio has it's own variation - "This Ain't [Original Name] XXX", "[Original Name] - A Porn Parody"). It's my impression that the only real foothold the original rights holder would have to sue is if there is some chance the porn version could be confused with the original, diluting the value of the property.
posted by BleachBypass at 12:33 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


... the porn industry is not (currently) flush and is ...
posted by BleachBypass at 12:53 PM on September 30, 2011


Plus, there's this weird phenomena nowadays where stars are really proud if someone makes a porn version of their work. You've made it to the big time. I remember seeing Zach Braff on Leno and he could not have been more tickled to promote Scrubs - A XXX Parody.

(I'm fairly sure this does not apply to George Lucas.)
posted by BleachBypass at 1:00 PM on September 30, 2011


But I think it has to be funny, or at least trying to be. I could be totally wrong about this, but I think it has to be an attempt at humor. You probably couldn't commercially do Saw Wars, a horror version of Star Wars, could you? That might be a comment on the original, but is it parody?
posted by Toekneesan at 2:03 PM on September 30, 2011


There's a Star Trek TNG porno parody that really pushes it. It's a loving homage, they got a Patrick Stewart impersonator for a non-sex role, and it's a sequel to an actual episode. And last I heard, there's plans for a Doctor Who porno parody starring the 19th, 20th and 21st Doctors (it was subtly implied in an interview that it was considered heresy to cast anyone in an existing Doctor's role).

Porn parodies seem to be becoming an outlet for professionally-made fanfiction. A little voice in my head just said, "It's a shame they have to add sex to make them," followed by another, more sardonic little voice replying, "Add?"
posted by BiggerJ at 9:00 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


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