Money Shot: The Pornhub Story Review – complicating and compelling

By Romey Norton
Published: March 15, 2023 (Last updated: July 4, 2023)


Pornhub has a sexy, smutty history laid bare in this documentary. Complicated and compelling, it’s a must-watch. 

We review the 2023 Netflix documentary film Money Shot: The Pornhub Story.

Why are we so obsessed with sex? I read that strip clubs make more money than casinos per square foot. The sex industry and porn business are insanely lucrative and even more problematic. With sex being such a big thing in our lives and the media, this documentary sheds light on what happens behind the screens of the biggest porn conglomerate, Pornhub. 

Netflix is getting into bed with Pornhub, teaching its viewers all about the on-demand service. The website emerged in 2007, changing the face of porn forever, meaning that you can watch it whenever you want, wherever you like. They have changed distribution and production, and according to this documentary, it is now becoming a volume game. You wouldn’t believe the first video was made by three students from Concordia who liked naked women. They sold Pornhub to Fabian Thylmann in 2010, who used his skills with SEO to make this the most dominant site online.

Money Shot: The Pornhub Story Review

Pornhub enabled erotic content creators to reach a worldwide audience and gets 3.5 billion website visits per month, thus making it the most visited website in the world. Why is this? The reason for the site is to be sexually aroused; the problem is that anything can be porn.

The first part of this documentary is about the positives of the site, how it was created, and how it has become the number one porn website in the world in the last ten years. It discusses the rise of Modelhub, launched in 2018 and allowed models to make more money without having to promote as they have Pornhub’s traffic. It’s almost recruiting you to join, as it’s promoted to be safe, easy, and lucrative. (The money they can make is insanely tempting).

The documentary’s next section focuses on the website giant’s negatives. It has had many allegations of non-consensual material and trafficking on the website, which makes it extremely difficult to have taken down. There is also the workers’ ethics, especially towards women, and how their material can negatively mislead viewers. 

Columnist for the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof, was prompted to investigate after seeing the protests from the activist group Trafficking Hub. He found stories about girls who have been raped and their videos distributed online, and Pornhub even ran ads on these videos, as this type of content is in demand and makes money. The ethical choices behind the scenes are exceptionally questionable. With this evidence, it is undeniably true that the site cared more about making money than it did protect vulnerable people/victims.

This documentary features interviews with performers, past employees, activists, friends and family of workers, and more. The interviews have bright, colorful settings, and even the people whose identity is protected are done with a bright white halo effect instead of the person being in the dark.

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There are quick shots of awards, sex toys, images, and videos, and there are sex, nudity, and violent references used throughout.

Hearing their stories and how sanctions and changes affected their work and income is very eye-opening and gives another dynamic to the documentary. Your first initial thought is to protect victims instantly, as it should be, but in doing this, you’re effectively hurting someone else and their careers. The sanctions and constraints then lead to the world of Only Fans, touched on briefly. 

The final part of the documentary is a mix of the good and bad of Pornhub, and it’s interesting to watch. I didn’t know much about this industry when I started watching, so I learned quite a bit.

It is quite sad to see that when people protest, the people who get hurt are the actual sex workers/performers/content creators, not the giant owners themselves. Many people protesting the site are ultra-far-right Christian groups using the notion of protecting girls and women from abolishing the industry. It’s not about abolishing it but making it safe. If we abolish this industry, we are hurting women’s sexuality and sexual freedom overall. The issues around sexual abuse is an internet-wide issue, not just on Pornhub, and serious action needs to be taken to protect people.

Is Money Shot: The Pornhub Story good?

Yes. Whether for or against porn, this documentary is fascinating as it showcases both the good and the bad.

One thing I will take is that sites such as this need to prohibit downloads, increase moderation and verify users to help protect people. Not having these is incredibly irresponsible and puts people at risk. However, it’s also ensuring that sex workers/performers/content creators are treated fairly and safely. It ensures that sex is consensual, and the workers can earn and take home the money they deserve. 

What did you think of the 2023 documentary film Money Shot: The Pornhub Story? Comment Below.

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