The Spectacle Blog

Sad End For Young Porn Actress

By on 5.23.14 | 2:22PM

Gawker, the internet's premiere moral vacuum, brings us the tragic story of Alyssa Funke. Ms. Funke, a 19 year old college freshman, took her own life last month after appearing in a pornographic video. Prior to her suicide, Funke had been subjected to rude messages on social media from old high school classmates branding her a prostitute. Her grieving parents blame the unwanted notoriety for her untimely death. From the Gawker piece:

Funke's parents said she had long suffered from depression, but they believe the harassment she faced online played a major role in her decision to kill herself. On a fundraiser page they started to fight cyberbullying, they wrote, "Alyssa like so many other teens was a victim of bully and sadly the bullying lead to her death. Social media has revolutionized the way people bully eachother now days. Now you can say whatever you want and not have to look the person in the face while doing it."

Bullying, cyber or otherwise, is treated as the scourge of our time. But here lies a confusion of cause and effect. Bullying did not lead to Ms. Funke's death, but her own tragic decisions. She not only suffered from depression, but was a teenager. If teenagers are known for anything, it's erratic decisions. The straight A student clearly lacked even the clarity to know that her foray into adult film would scandalize her peers.

The comments posted by readers of the Gawker piece go the bullying route, perhaps unsurprisingly given that Gawker's readership runs slightly to the left of Mao. Blame is cast at America's "prudes," and those who would commit the grievous act of "slut shaming." One commenter who pointed out that the "bullying" comments were, in fact, accurate--Ms. Funke had been paid for sex, and was therefore a prostitute--was chastised for his "antiquated" worldview. One reader even made the logically tortured case that not only should porn actresses not be subjected to slut shaming, but "adult film stars should get health insurance so they can get treatment for things like, say, mental health issues." It is apparently lost on this person that Ms. Funke likely embarked on a porn career because of her mental health issues. And the illness which clouded her judgment enabled her to take her own life, not some unkind words.

"Belle Knox," a Duke University undergrad outed several months ago as a porn actress, has been hailed as a heroine of contemporary feminism and a shining example of "sex positivity." Her between-the-sheets escapades earned her a regular gig writing for the women's website xoJane. In her latest piece, she addresses the "chilling" similarities between herself and Ms. Funke. Apparently, Ms. Knox, too, suffers from depression. She uses her column to celebrate her career as a "sex worker," but one wonders at the soundness of her judgment.

Those who tout the anything goes sexuality of our age would never admit that doing pornography is a questionable decision. After all, what rational person would place blame upon a degrading, disgusting industry which views people as mere sexual playthings, not as ends, but means? Surely, it must be the prudes and the bullies who are the real problem! The Gawker piece notes that Funke's local sheriff is investigating the "cyberbulling," but does not believe any crime has been committed. Of course not. Ms. Funke's peers were simply reinforcing the norms of society, which refreshingly still views certain acts as abhorent no matter how much the readership of sites like Gawker plug "sex positivity." No, there was no crime here. Only a sad ending for a straight A student who would have had a bright future.

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