This is only 3 1/2 hours and it’s done in episodes, so it felt a little repetitious, but it was really amazing journalism and no longer than it needed to be. The story is about how one guy’s founding of Pornhub and other free porn sharing sites disrupted the industry and had long-lasting effects that are still resonating today.
I am not a big fan of porn, but I am very interested in business and how new technology changes have far-reaching repercussions. I came out of this feeling not so much like Ronson was anti-porn, but that he had a lot of pity for everyone involved in the industry. Everyone felt like a loser, each for their own reasons. The porn actors end up ruining their chances of having a normal life, the “girls” find themselves aged out of the industry at 29, the producers have to keep running faster and faster yet make less and less money, and millions upon millions of porn-addicted men find that they’re no longer able to enjoy sex with real, life women. It’s like a stunning indictment of both porn and capitalism, where everyone feels like a victim. And yet there are some fascinating stories here, from the dutiful son why buys a life-like sex doll for his mom, to how one man became so rich he has a fishtank that has to be cleaned by divers, to the bespoke porn video that may save someone’s life.
Plus, I soon recognized Ronson’s charactaristic voice from The Psychopath Test. So very British, and so nebbishy, you get the feeling like no matter how bemused or shocked he becomes, he’ll never be so crass as to say anything more controversial than “ah, I see.” He’s like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit, except an investigative journalist who likes controversial topics. As soon as I was done, I bought another audiobook by him just because this one was so good.