Today I'm thinking about the way recent attention to porn for straight men relates to the idea that "the closet" is a myth.
James Deen is a successful porn performer who makes porn featuring him having sex with women, aka straight porn. Much has been made of the fact that Deen is conventionally attractive, especially in comparison to most of his male peers. They typically have big muscles, spray tans, and big hair, a la the men on the cover of romance novels; in contrast, he is slim with short hair, a la the boy next door. There is even an argument that his success has been in spite of his looks.
That argument goes this way: "Women like to look at him, but men don't. Men buy most of the porn out there, so what they like is what sells. But the fact that he is popular is 'proof' that women are buying more porn than they have in the past, because, otherwise, what could explain it? Men who buy male-female porn would not be interested in buying porn featuring an attractive man. When they watch porn featuring men and women having sex, they only want to see beautiful women, and what the men look like is irrelevant and/or the men should not be attractive. Either that or the men in straight porn should not be attractive to the straight male customers, because otherwise the male viewers might get upset about being attracted to them, because straight men all have internalized homophobia issues, and those issues override any enjoyment they would get out of looking at men they find hot." Seriously?
I think this line of thinking completely misses the boat, by suggesting that (a.) Deen only appeals to women, and that (b.) most men in porn are "unattractive" because then the male audience won't get distracted by their looks or distracted by being too "into" the men. BS. I believe that producers of "straight" porn have had a clear sense of what their target audience - straight-identified men - wants to see, and they make careful, calculated business decisions based on that institutional knowledge. Porn is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and industries don't grow to that level of financial success without a great deal of market savvy about their customers.
I doubt the industry is only taking into account how the customers want the women in male-female porn to look. Male porn performers look the way they do because porn is usually made with a male audience in mind, and these men fit the stereotype of who the porn industry thinks male porn buyers want to see. Otherwise, if straight men truly didn't want to be distracted by seeing a man in a film (either because they don't find men attractive, or because, uh-oh, they do, and can't handle their own attraction to guys!), straight men wouldn't watch any porn with men in it.
But, in fact, straight men watch straight porn more than any other type of porn.