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Matt Pollack’s movie, Run Run It’s Him, is a case study in addict behaviour.
Matt Pollack’s movie, Run Run It’s Him, is a case study in addict behaviour.

Confessions of a porn junkie Add to ...

Matt Pollack spent the better part of this century’s first decade tracking and watching dirty movies. He’d wake in the morning thinking of porn, plan his day around acquiring and pleasuring himself to it, and eventually pass out with pornographic images still seared on his eyelids. His apartment was filled with teetering pagodas of porn tapes and DVDs, and he filled notebooks with meticulously cross-referenced lists of preferred scenes – the better to find that magic moment. You could call him an addict.

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That’s what he called himself, and that’s why one of the other things he did during this century’s first decade was make a movie about his addiction to porn called – endearingly, hilariously and sadly – Run Run It’s Him. Available for digital download at runrunitshim.com on April 1, the movie’s coming out on the Internet is, if anything, singularly apt. If Pollack’s obsessive porn hunt required a concerted campaign of planning and effort, today there is a vast universe of dirty amusements merely a click or two away. Viewed online, Pollack’s low budget first-person confessional movie only seems that much more disturbingly pertinent. If Pollack, a psychiatrist’s son and seasoned music and bookstore clerk, was a porn junkie who actually had to leave home for a fix as recently as a decade ago, his contemporary counterparts can fix 24/7 without ever getting out of bed. To make a pharmacological analogy, it’s like having your favourite substance on tap free of charge all the time.

Pollack’s movie is a case study in addict behaviour: He tells us how he came to let pornography monopolize his thoughts and desires, and the process whereby that fixation, with its promise of instant gratification followed by instant shame and then insinuating thoughts of the next fix, resulted in a cycle of compulsively repetitive actions that drove him deeper into his unquenchable desire and further from even relatively normal human contact. Speaking on-camera to his interviewer and co-director Jamie Popowich, Pollack candidly describes deferring the loss of his virginity to age 24, how pornography made him terminally ill-at-ease around women, the estimated “thousands of hours” he spent masturbating, and the way his brain began to develop a formidably efficient facility for knowing exactly what distractions were to be had, and where, in his increasingly extensive personal archive.

Like a lot of addicts, Pollack both knew he had a problem and felt completely powerless to do anything about it. It was out of this sense of isolation and hopelessness that he got the idea to make Run Run It’s Him, which basically amounts to the first step anyone must take in order to initiate recovery: you’ve got to tell somebody about your problem and admit you need help.

The movie itself is such an admission, but so are many of the encounters it depicts: Pollack fessing up to his obsessions to various female friends and former girlfriends – some of whom, in a gesture that smacks equally of catharsis and self-punishment, he asks to sit and watch some of his favourite scenes – Pollack taking us on a city tour of his preferred porn emporia, and even confronting his parents with his secret. Not surprisingly, they claim to have had no idea, a fact which speaks equally to the addict’s talent for compartmentalized concealment as it does the loved ones’ for selective obliviousness.

Run Run It’s Him is unmistakably a first film, and it bears the burden of its limitations: how you wish the movie might have opened up to the testimonials of porn addicts, or generally placed Pollack’s own intemperate habits in the larger contexts of porn, technology, sexuality and even substance addictions. But then you have to remind yourself that this is a movie made, and bravely so, in a dark vacuum, before anyone was really talking about pornography as an addictive distraction, before a guy like Pollack could feel comfortable coming out with his secret, and before the Internet became the most insidiously generous dealer of sexually explicit images in history.

On-camera, Pollack is a genial, smart and candid presence, and you can understand why director Alan Zweig (A Hard Name, When Jews Were Funny) cast him as the youngest crank in his documentary I, Curmudgeon: Pollack has a frankly self-deprecating manner about him that’s at once attractive and defensive, a way of holding your attention and at arm’s length at the same time. Long before I knew him as a recovering porn addict I knew him as an especially informed and engaging record-store clerk, which is to say as an enabler of sorts for one of my own insatiable appetites.

Since finishing his movie in 2009, Pollack has struggled with figuring out just how to release it and what the impact of that might be, and he’s frank about just how free of the old habit he actually is. Now engaged to be married, he claims to be largely but not entirely clear of the old ways. What he hopes more than anything else is that the movie will help others with the problem feel a little less lonely than he once did, and that he’ll finally be free of the kind of conversations which faced him when he and his movie were invited to certain specialty film festivals (with names like CineKink, Pollygrind and 8.Porn) in different parts of the world. Those were the places where people often told him he was crazy to call his lost decade a form of addiction, a sure sign – if you ask me – that’s probably exactly what it was.

 

 

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