Like believers who see the face of Jesus everywhere, the mainstream sees doom for porn everywhere it looks.

That may be a painfully inappropriate comparison to some but at least we didn’t mention Islam! Oops.

The latest example of the mainstream’s fatalism vis-à-vis porn comes courtesy of today’s Slate article, “Ben & Jerry’s Porn Signals Doom for the Industry.”

In it, writer Amanda Hess postulates that an industry that has to resort to “assistance from the dessert aisle in order to convince people to view hardcore sexual material” is all but, well, doomed.

She doesn’t even pose the endgame as a possibility, but a fact. The ice cream case was the canary in the coal mine, whether the industry wants to admit it or not. The case itself is not that extraordinary. A studio named Caballero Video made a series of porn flicks built around variations on the names of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, namely Ben & Cherry’s. B&J wasn’t amused and sued.

As AVN reported last week, “The suit alleges trademark and trade stress dilution and infringement of the Ben & Jerry’s trademark. The ice cream company has names like Karamel Sutra and Schweddy Balls, but takes offense to the porn titles of Coconut 7 Lay-Her Bar, Late Night Snatch and Boston Cream Thigh, which are similar to names the company uses. The ice cream moguls are also upset that the packaging for the porn looks incredibly similar to their own containers.”

The ice cream company won a quick TRO in court and the porn company, realizing it was in a losing battle, agreed to pull all of the titles off the shelves. For Hess, the import of the case has less to do with trademark protection than it does with the decision by Caballero to create a series of movies built on a flimsy foundation of parody.

Ben & Cherry’s is just a food you probably recognize,” she wrote, “and that tenuous association may be what ultimately spelled its doom.”

Hess’ point is that the industry is already a decade into the “parody boom,” which she says serves the need of producers to make something novel. The problem, she says, is that the type of parody that is often made are not parodies “in the traditional sense of the term,” and provide “neither hard-hitting commentary nor (intentional) laughs, but “just take a popular show (or a not-so-popular one; the WKRP in Cincinnati parody exists), dress up porn performers like the leads, then have them shed their clothes and cycle through the same suite of stock sexual positions you’d find in any mainstream porn title.”

It is, she insists, an “impressively, elaborately lazy strategy,” but at least they provide “a story on which a person reasonably could construct a fantasy.” The Ben & Cherry’s series, she argues, are “not so much parodies as they are porn-plus-puns.”

And it is that escalating laziness, she says, that spells doom for the industry. Of course, one lazy producer does not an industry make, and neither does it spell inevitable doom. Hess may very well be right that the inescapable decline of the porn parody presents a looming problem for the industry, but the porn biz has also always been one that attracts all sorts of players.

Take Tyga, for instance. The rapper is moving into the neighborhood, not out, and he’s not making parodies, but original features with original music titled after his top 10 hit.