1. Plot summary
“Big red son” describes the events that transpire in the Adult Video News Awards, in 1998, as narrated by David Wallace. The author begins by describing tragic statistics on auto castration among the male populace in the US. While these statistics merely serve as attention-grabbers, Wallace goes to great lengths to explore the cause and a possible remedy for the same. The essay describes the US adult entertainment industry from an outsider’s view, the players and the true nature of the industry as revealed by the author’s interactions with the industry’s stakeholders. Most of the essay is a description of the awards gala and the author’s impression of the actors, their vulgarity and the effect that pornography in general has on consumers. The author only deviates from the AVN awards to give his impression of Las Vegas and to describe the International Consumer Electronics show, which coincides with the awards. The essay culminates with the author leaving the awards gala, having been overwhelmed by its obscenity.
2. Main characters
The main characters in the essay are the narrator, David Wallace, and his companion Dick Filth. While Wallace has been sent to cover the AVN awards gala by the Premiere magazine, he takes on a casual approach to the event, owning the story and incorporating external and personal elements to it. Apart from the humor that the reader derives from the numerous (sometimes page-long) footnotes, not much else emerges about Wallace as he remains true to the spirit of unbiased journalism. The narrator describes Dick Filth as a marginal print journalist – one of the “worldly” reporters from a local men’s magazine with an uncanny knowledge of the main players and events in the adult entertainment industry. He not only offers Wallace Company throughout the gala, but also serves as a point of reference since he comes with insider knowledge on the adult entertainment industry.
3. Main idea of the essay
In essence, the author proposes to highlight the tragedy and the hollowness of the adult entertainment industry amidst its widespread popularity in the US. Initially, through a narration of the glamour of the AVN awards gala and an analysis of the multi-billion annual revenues generated by the adult entertainment industry, the author highlights the industry as overwhelmingly popular. As he interacts with the industry players, the author notes that key players can be identified with a kind of self-absorption that surrounds them. Rather than fall into the typical generalizations that perceive pornography as appalling because of the decay in morality that it represents or good because of the American freedoms that it embodies, Wallace pursues a different angle. He sees the adult entertainment industry as predominantly pitiable – a contemporary representation of sadness that surrounds the typical American. Whereas the author does not come out directly to denounce adult films, he perceives the trends in the industry (such as bondage, rape and under-age involvement) as vile. Although he does not mention it, the tragic note that he brings forth can be taken to mean that he blames the increasing incidences of auto castration on the proliferation of adult films.