Please Respect Mia Khalifa's Rebrand
May 13, 2022 7:33 AM   Subscribe

...which explains how she ended up “crying on the Hogwarts Express” while Cortez “was throwing up in a full-on Snape costume.

Crazy kids. I guess that's puppy love.
(On a slightly more serious note - good for her for finding happiness, for making happiness.)
posted by From Bklyn at 8:00 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]

I had a longer comment written out but I thought I'd be less verbose:

- I don't see Mia Khalifa calling people creeps and jerks. I find it really doesn't help the narrative to frame people who consume pornography as creeps and jerks, I've seen other outlets say this besides Bustle. Plus she still is on OnlyFans and doing photoshoots she feels comfortable with, which really any professional should. So it really gives the implication that you're a creep or jerk until you have enough money to pay for OnlyFans. Not to dwell on this as there are creeps and jerks, but in a similar respect once I became confident in my career I did not retain clients I did not work out with and I believe it was fruitful for both parties.

- Framing it as a growth story is awkward as there's no real indication of growth, nor should there be. She's older and she has regrets about things she did while younger. She's also in a place of incredible privilege for a lot of reasons, not many people can do non-explicit OnlyFans photos to maintain a career. Or become a social media star.

- Finally she didn't really have insights or anything interesting to say. I mean not everyone is Daniel Schorr here, we don't need a full fledged New Yorker profile but the gist of the article was that she was once in pornography, is less so into it now and she has a pretty typical high profile social media account.

She's very lucky she did not have any debilitating or pre-existing addiction or mental health issues and was able to navigate the pornographic world. I doubt it is as exploitive as the mafia filled 70s or 80s, or even the stories that came out of the 90s and 00s. Online pornography and "amateur" pornography seems to have commodified ponrography to anyone with a camera. I'm sure it is still way more exploitive than, say, working at a paper company.
posted by geoff. at 9:47 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


I mean, having a toe in the adult side of things, it gets incredibly frustrating for me that her character arc there gets phrased as "no insights". Her experience is pretty similar to mine on a more dramatic scale, that indeed once you are sexualized, people assume your sexuality exists on their terms.

For example, a lot of people don't realise that the largest victims of non-consensual pornography are adult performers. Despite an intensely predatory culture underpinning the piracy, porn, in particular is pitched as this thing that if you would be paid under X circumstances, you should accept any means of distribution. Pornhub clawed it's way to success by pirating porn until it forced the studio system to play along, to at least try to squeeze some revenue out of the non-consensual distribution of content.

Meanwhile, a lot of the exploitation in the old studio system is because even if you *want* to make adult content, performer, owner or crew, that's a lot of violence to wade through if the public gets ahold of the real you. Thus yeah, organized crime was and is involved. It was involved in Stonewall, too. Abuse + criminalization = natural habitat for crime.

But, put plainly, people who knowingly don't pay for porn and consume pirated content ARE creeps, and in Mia's case this was a significant part of her fame. Pornhub based sharing, above and beyond the agreed distribution, gave her celebrity she wasn't seeking. This wasn't DVD selling like hot cakes, this was largely "fan" distributed sharing of a shock film. Fans who put not a single penny in her pockets even as they pursued her into absurd levels of ostracism through attempts to consume her.

It puts her in the same camp as the Kardashian whose sex tape provided notoriety enough to push her success to where it is today. Despite being a victim of a sex crime, people still endlessly snark that she "made a sex tape" as if she orchestrated her own abuse, rather than making lemons out of lemonade.

It also speaks to the sea change of "the Fappening", a mass non-consensual sharing of images event that allowed the broader habit of humans to make nudes to be much more broadly accepted as not "asking for it". Remember when "celebrity sex tape" was her crime to be mocked for when someone distributed it? And people would think nothing of trying to get such images enmasse?

Like Mia, though mine was niche and small potatoes, my brief brush with sexual content related popularity was the woman-on-the-internet abuse phenomenon on steriods. Add a secondary popularity based mass slut shaming adventure, and tbh control over my own sexuality vs ability to make meaningful art with it is walking a tightrope of dealing with ravening vampires. Who, again, were there to get as much as possible from me, for free.

And tbh, it's my entirely opinion based perception that in my niche of femdom, how we are treated is actually why commercial femdom far outstrips lifestyle femdom in visibility- I don't domme for cash, but I get the same nonesense shit from non-payers my sex worker peers do. It's not surprising any femdom focused group is a tearful pile of guys bitching about the ratio and the wicked fake pros. Visibility without an incredibly controlled grip on your self image and access to you is horrific to experience.

Which I think comes full circle to her youthful pursuit of breast implants. The performed self and its complexities can't just be dismissed as an opt out thing. Being seen is complicated, and being seen while femme horrifically dangerous. Being seen is also fulfilling and a creative outlet.
posted by Phalene at 10:51 AM on May 13 [36 favorites]

That someone could read that profile and not notice the story of personal growth, overcoming abusive relationships and finding her own voice… wtf??!
posted by eviemath at 11:25 AM on May 13 [13 favorites]

I find it really doesn't help the narrative to frame people who consume pornography as creeps and jerks, I've seen other outlets say this besides Bustle.

This is a misinterpretation of the article and a weird place to start out at, honestly.

I liked the article and found her voice interesting and thoughtful. Previously I was vaguely aware of her name but knew nothing about her, and really appreciated reading this.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:24 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

I find it really doesn't help the narrative to frame people who consume pornography as creeps and jerks

What in the world? Where the heck did this interpretation come from? From the article:
What Khalifa posts on OnlyFans is titillating without being explicit, lewd but not nude, and she says she’ll “block someone if they even say one thing that’s annoying” or “tell them to shut up if they complain.” She’s the only one who reads and replies to her DMs because the third party companies she’s tried out have been unable to replicate her take-no-shit style, lapsing instead into flirtatious pandering. Her attitude is that she doesn’t have to make nice with the customer: “You should have read the fine print. It says no nudity. Respect the rebrand.”
posted by mhum at 5:41 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

I think the writer of the article does a great job of speaking to the circumstances of Mia’s life and her change in outlook. Mia’s actual quotes are pretty limited. On the Media had a good segment where they talked about what makes a great celebrity profile, and one of the tips was that when the writer spends ink writing about the food ordered and the place they’re eating, the publicist for that celebrity has limited the amount of time the writer has with the subject.

I think she’s clearly been through hell, gotten to a better place, addresses some of the toxicity of that experience, but her input and actual quoted words in this piece aren’t terribly expansive. I would be curious to read more about her in a few years in a more in-depth piece, where the journalist spends more time with her, to see a little bit more directly from Mia even further beyond now.
posted by glaucon at 8:19 PM on May 13

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