Parents Beware: Chain
Stores Going Crazy Selling "Girls Gone Wild"
by David Almasi
A New Visions Commentary
paper published October 2003 by The National Center for Public
Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited.
Probably thinking of himself as being
on the cutting edge of the civil rights struggle, rapper Snoop
Dogg broke his ties with Mantra Entertainment - makers of the
"Girls Gone Wild" videos - because it doesn't feature
enough black and Hispanic girls getting naked.1
"Girls Gone Wild" is a perverted
outgrowth of Reality TV. Producer Joe Francis has made a mint
filming usually drunk females exposing themselves at beaches,
bars and other public places.2
Francis enlisted Snoop to bring celebrity to his smut, but Snoop
doesn't think Francis practices enough adults-only affirmative
"If you notice, there hasn't been
no girls [of color] at all on none of those tapes," Snoop
disjointedly told the Associated Press. "That ain't cool,
because white girls ain't the only hos that get wild." Noting
that black and Hispanic "hos" have been "complaining
to me like crazy," he wants to produce his own line of dirty
videos to "bring some flavor to the table."3
That might have to wait since Snoop and
Francis are being sued by a girl who appeared on the cover of
their "Girls Gone Wild Doggy Style" video. Jamie Capdeboscq
alleges she was only 17 years old when they filmed her, and that
she was plied with drugs so she would flash her breasts for the
camera during a 2002 Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans.4
For Francis, this legal trouble is in
addition to the 22 counts of racketeering, drugs and other illegal
activities he has been charged with in Panama City, Florida.5 If convicted, he faces a possible 30 years in
prison. Police raided a condo rented by Mantra this past April
and seized 175 hours of footage from spring break parties. Parents
have complained that their underage daughters were told to say
they were over 18 on camera, and prosecutors say the footage
contains alleged minors performing sex acts. A Francis attorney
downplays the charges, commenting, "It doesn't become child
pornography when you're just dealing with nudity."6
Girls Gone Wild commercials are a staple
of late-night television, which advertise the videos for sale
directly from the Francis's company. Since I thought purchasing
directly from Francis created a barrier - albeit a thin one -
that kept minors from purchasing the videos, I was surprised
to recently find them on sale at my local Best Buy. The "Rugrats
Go Wild" DVD in the children's section may be just steps
away from Girls Gone Wild titles stacked at kid-high level in
the miscellaneous section like "Sexy Sorority Sweethearts,
Volume 2" and "Forbidden Spring Break."7 To prove Snoop wrong, by the way, Francis also
offers "Black Girls Gone Wild: Funkin' at Freaknik."
Best Buy doesn't sell explicit pornography,
but Girls Gone Wild is close. Their presence at a mainstream
store makes it more likely these videos will get into the wrong
little hands. Kids attempting to purchase one may be thwarted
by a conscientious register clerk, but this still doesn't present
an imposing barrier because Best Buy also sells over 70 Girls
Gone Wild selections and similar titles through its web site,
where kids can buy anonymously. They can even use the gift card
they got from grandma.8
I checked out the web sites of similar
retailers. Here's what I found:
- Goody got it! Sam Goody and Suncoast,
both owned by Musicland, boast the same 30 Girls Gone Wild and
- Barnes and Noble also has 30 titles
and offers discounts to members of their "Readers' Advantage"
- Amazon (which also sells for Borders)
has 22 titles.11
- FYE has 40 titles, but Tower only has
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To their credit, Circuit City, Target
and Wal-Mart do not sell titles from the Girls Gone Wild collection.13
Bookstores usually keep dirty magazines
on high shelves or behind counters away from children. Blockbuster
refuses to rent NC-17 and hardcore adult videos altogether.14
While Snoop Dogg struggles to make the
world of adult entertainment colorblind, it seems that many of
our large-scale electronics chains are making it easier for these
videos to get into the hands of impressionable kids.
Don't want your kids to be exposed to
Girls Gone Wild filth? Here's an idea: don't patronize stores
that sell it. Block their retail sites as you would a porn site.
When it hits them in the pocketbook,
maybe then they'll get the point.
(David Almasi is the director
of the African-American leadership network Project 21.. Comments
may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org.)
1 "Snoop Dogg: Where Are the Topless Black
Girls?" Associated Press, June 24, 2003, available at http://cbs11tv.com/entertainment_story_175161144.html/resources_storyPrintableView
as of June 25, 2003.
2 Paul Lomartire, "Girls Go Wild - So Do Profits:
Empire of 'Ordinary' Girls Flashing Anatomy Becomes Part of Cuture,"
Palm Beach Post, March 16, 2003, available at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/866802/posts
as of September 12, 2003.
3 "Snoop Dogg: Where Are the Topless Black Girls?"
4 "Snoop Dogg Sued by Teens for Racy Video,"
Associated Press, August 12, 2003.
6 "Prosecution Lays Out Case Against 'Girls Gone
Wild' Creator," Associated Press, September 4, 2003.
7 "Girls Gone Wild" DVDs were found on the shelves
of the Pentagon Centre Best Buy in Arlington, Virginia on September
29, 2003 along with these other selections: Playboy-produced
videos of nude model shoots, a knock-off of the "Bum Fights"
video in which homeless men engage in gladiator-style competition
(the producers of the original "Bum Fights" faced felony
battery and solicitation charges in relation to the video), the
Steve-O video (a former performer on the MTV show "Jackass"
who does extreme stunts like attaching his scrotum to his leg
with a staple gun), "Banned from Television" (real
footage of things like people being hit by trains and trampled
by animals) and brutal "backyard wrestling" home videos.
8 Inventory search completed and sample sale executed
at http://www.bestbuy.com on September 5, 2003.
9 Inventory search completed at http://shop.suncoast.com
and http://shop.samgoody.com on September 5, 2003.
10 Inventory search completed at http://video.barnesandnoble.com
on September 5, 2003.
11 Inventory search completed at http://www.amazon.com
on September 5, 2003. Sample sale executed on September 29, 2003.
12 Inventory searches completed at http://www.fye.com
and http://video.towerrecords.com on September 5, 2003.
13 Inventory searches completed at http://circuitcity.com,
http://www.target.com and http://www.wal-mart.com on September
14 "Blockbuster: About Us," web FAQ, April 24,
2002, available at http://www.blockbuster.com/bb/webfaq/0,7846,NT-ABT,00.html
as of June 25, 2003.