Meet the man who got James Hetfield involved in Addicted To Porn

He seems comfortable with a mic… Justin Hunt and James Hetfield at a screening of Absent in San Rafael, California, in 2011
He seems comfortable with a mic\u2026 Justin Hunt and James Hetfield at a screening of Absent in San Rafael, California, in 2011

Back in January when James Hetfield was announced as the narrator of a new documentary about the effects of pornography, the internet did what it does naturally, throwing its toys out of the pram as the frontman embarked on another venture that wasn’t playing Damage Inc 50 times in a row. But according to director Justin Hunt, who’s spent four years making the alarming documentary Addicted To Porn: Chasing The Cardboard Butterfly, this is a project that the metal legend has been keen to pursue for a long time.

Why did you decide to make a film about porn addiction?

“I was blown away by the effect it was having. I’d never considered what it was doing to individuals and families, and of course it ripples out into society as a whole. We’ve just started to get the spotlight on it because people are starting to realise that this is having more of an impact than what people are doing in the privacy of their own home.

Is it a new phenomenon?

“I don’t know if porn addiction is new, or sex addiction for that matter, but technology is increasing the issue exponentially. Before, you had to go to a store or have a buddy with a stash, now the accessibility means it’s so easy to get your hands on. It’s easier for younger and younger kids to be exposed to it. We are really starting to see that exposure is changing the landscape in terms of intimacy and relationships, because we’re putting young kids behind the wheel of a Ferrari with their sexuality when they’re not prepared for it.”

You’ve known James since he featured in your 2009 film, Absent, which focused on the issue of fatherlessness in modern families.

“I interviewed him about how he turned his father wounds into music. Seeing the film affected him so much as a father to his kids, and he became a huge proponent of the movie. He’s such a humble guy and has said a pretty amazing thing about Absent: ‘Justin’s done more for me than I could ever comprehend.’ That blows my mind. We became friends, and we’ve talked pretty consistently since. He was very up for narrating this right from the beginning.”

“I think James believes in me because I fight to do what’s right,” says Justin

“I think James believes in me because I fight to do what’s right,” says Justin

Why was he so interested in this film?

“We’re both fathers and husbands, and realise that we have names and skills that can bring attention to the issue. He knows the value of his name and being involved but I think he believes in me because I fight to do what’s right. I think he finds a certain level of integrity in what I do. I’m sure he’s seen plenty of people deal with this issue – they don’t say ‘sex, drugs and rock’n’roll’ for no reason. He just wants to make a difference.”

How have Metallica fans reacted to James’s involvement?

“Initially, people were pretty shitty about it. I don’t mind them attacking me, I expect that. But they got shitty with him, too, and there’s no real reason for that. I think people want James to be the James they’re used to – this roaring lion of metal – and it irritates them when they don’t get that. But a ton of people respect James for taking this on and recognise it’s a big deal that he’s involved in a project like this. It’s a lot more positive now. Metal fans are passionate, but they forget that he’s a family man and that he cares about other things as well. I appreciate him doing it as it’s not like he’s sat around twiddling his thumbs. I really think that indicates how much he believes in what I’m trying to do and how important he thinks it is.”

Aside from James’s involvement, is this film and subject matter more applicable for metalheads?

“It’s applicable whether you like metal, Mumford & Sons or Willie Nelson. I would classify myself as a metalhead but I’m also a human being. Metalheads are people and this is affecting everybody. I was asked, ‘Who’s your target audience?’ and I said, ‘People with eyes’ because everybody’s being affected by this.”

What message are you hoping to convey with the movie?

“It’s no different to what James does with his music. He’s expressing what’s important to him and trying to make the world a bit better for everybody. That’s all we’re trying to do. I’m just expressing what’s important to me and trying to make the world a little bit better for some people. I’m not making movies like everybody else just so we can make money, I’m doing things that I believe in. People can like it or not like it, but I’m keeping true to what I’m inspired by. I definitely picked that up from listening to Metallica over the past 30 years!”

Addicted To Porn: Chasing the Cardboard Butterfly is out now via Itunes. See www.atpdoc.com