Note: this film is currently available on Netflix Instant streaming. 

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Porn stars are people, too. While that may sound obvious and quite superficial, it cuts to the heart of Hot Girls Wanted. The Netflix acquired documentary that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival demonstrates the objectification and abuse of women in the porn industry, most notably 18-21 year olds who have recently entered the business. Most of these girls have normal domestic lives, not fitting into the stigma of coming from abused, neglected homes where their fathers didn’t love them or their mothers didn’t teach them how to be ladies. More often than not, it’s the promise of making a lot of quick money that entices these young ladies to push themselves onto the marketplace. Yet what is happening, oddly enough, is a saturation of young women who often only carry a shelf life of one to three months. What makes it all the more traumatizing is the violent displays of sexuality happening in their films, and the denotation of “teen” with most of these stars. Directors Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus skim the surface of many of their stories, but the importance of the narrative hangs over the sporadically affecting film.

Hot Girls Wanted runs a scant 84 minutes, yet it is filled with insightful moments outside of its fact-driven story. One of the most surprising scenes is a photo shoot for the women that involves a man telling them how to be sexy; while at first he seems to be merely guiding them toward taking good photos, he begins to tell a girl that her face isn’t sexy enough. For the next girl, he falls over out of stupefied glee when he sees her ass. The misogyny and idiocy could not be more obvious. These women are solely viewed as pieces of meat for the industry to consume and throw out in a short time; it’s simply depressing. The singularity of the vision makes the documentary both effective and one-dimensional. We all know the porn industry is an ugly place, and even these girls know it. As the film nears its conclusion, it remains obvious that a certain number of girls will continue working in porn because the industry still accepts them. Another story, however, has a girl returning home after making $25,000 in 4 months with only $3,000 of that sum left. Porn is an expensive industry for women, and one that continuously degrades and defiles them. Hot Girls Wanted repeats that construction, simultaneously making the film repetitive but imminently important.

Grade: ½ (out of 5)

Written by Eric Forthun