Tuesday, 20 May 2014

#reviewsdaytuesday: Tyger Takes On... Porn (BBC3)

As I think you might be able to tell from the title of this post, this programme shows some sexually explicit content. If you are under the age of 16 and feel comfortable witnessing and hearing about this, or if you're over the age of 16 (and similarly feel comfortable to do so) I would urge you to go and watch the show. I will also warn you that there is a mention of rape and rape fantasy towards the end of the show, so, if that is triggering for you, skip from 43 minutes to 46 minutes.

The show was broadcast on 15th May and is available on iPlayer for the next 3 weeks.

Similarly, this post will be discussing the explicit content of the show, so if you are uncomfortable with this, you can read my last post about what I do to my hair!

This show comes from a slightly 'laddy' perspective - not so much in the information it's giving (although, I'd say it tends to focus on boys watching porn and the female porn stars, rather than girls watching porn) but rather in the little clips of Tyger which appear to be there because the writers of the show are aware this could be an awkward topic and are trying to play it for laughs. This irritated me, particularly at the start of the programme as I was afraid that this was going to be a show which was created as an excuse for the BBC to showcase a 'cool' star, and these clips felt very self conscious.

Happily, however, the main content of the show was, for the most part, very thoughtful, insightful, and, most importantly, well-rounded. Throughout the show, Tyger was very open and frank about his own experiences with porn, as well as his own sex life, and how he thinks the former may have influenced the latter. I should also mention that Tyger grew up in a home very open about porn, as both his parents worked in the industry. Aside from the 'put your cock away' jokes with his Dad, I thought this was an interesting and insightful aspect to the show, as not many teens can say they grew up in a house that was open to porn. I certainly didn't (although, I should mention that porn has no appeal to me, and I've never really watched it except from when a guy put it on at a house party - much to the disgust of most of the party goers). 

The show did a relatively good job of interviewing both men and women equally when it came to the broader surveys about porn consumption, however when it came to the effects porn has on an individual’s sex-life there was a definite focus on men. This might be simply because it is men's expectations of sex which are most heavily impacted by porn - although this being said it takes two to have sex and this show was entirely focused on heterosexual porn and relationships, so you would think it would impact on women too (and the one occasion when he did interview a women about the impact of porn on her relationship it was particularly disturbing and troubling). The interviews he did with some of the men whose sex-lives had been most heavily impacted by porn were very revealing: they were only turned on by the porn-star look, they expected porn-style sex, they expected their sexual partners to do all the things porn stars would do and they weren't very good as discussing sex with their partners. I was particularly interested when he re-evaluated his own porn consumption and subsequent sexual expectations, as this opened up for a discussion of what is 'too much porn' and made the suggestion that if you say 'I watch porn once a week' that is still an addiction.

However, the moment in the programme which I most enjoyed was Tyger's interview with Cindy Gallop, founder of the 'Make Love Not Porn' campaign. Cindy's discussion was the real turning point in the show for me, and opened up the discussion I was most looking forward to - we need to equally blame the porn industry as well as society’s reluctance to discuss sex when we are looking to explore the negative impact of porn on my generation's experience of sex. Sadly, this discussion wasn't taken much further in the programme, though I think it is the most important discussion the how had, and I partly feel this was because they wanted to keep their audience profile entertained, so decided instead to show porn being filmed. 

Whilst showing the porn being filmed was helpful to de-romanticising porn, I wonder whether or not the show could have found the time to more fully discuss the how impact of sexual education (or lack thereof) works in tandem with an ever expanding porn industry and ever increasing availability of porn. I also was expecting to have a fuller discussion of how the online free to view porn sites were impacting on the professional porn industry, which never really became fully realised.


Over all, the programme was useful as a springboard for discussion, and I'm looking forward to seeing the next in the series of Tyger Takes On

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