Sunday, 22 January 2017

WATCHING: Tickled (2016)

Unbeknownst to many, there is actually a sport called Competitive Endurance Tickling. While you may not train for this sport, many athletes are plucked from the world of American Football and MMA, as well as others, to take part. They are flown across the world, put up in five star hotels, and paid thousands of dollars to be strapped down to a mat and tickled by other men young men in Addidas shorts. At least, this is the version of the so called "sport" that Jane O'Brien Media would have you believe.

Having discovered this videos online, New Zealand journalist David Farrier put in a request for an interview. The response he received was not what he was expecting. Instead of a simple decline, he was instead barraged with threats and insults towards his sexuality that went on across multiple emails. Not easily deterred, Farrier and television producer Dylan Reeve decide to investigate further. Reeve's young family is personally threatened over the emails, and three of Jane O'Brien's associates travel first class to New Zealand to personally tell Farrier to stop his investigations, or else the piling lawsuits against them will continue.

To describe the plot any more would do a great disservice to anyone who hasn't watched this documentary already. From the escalating threats to the broken lives competitive tickling as laid behind it, and finally to the shattering truth about Jane O'Brien, Tickled is a masterclass in storytelling. There is a scene in a car that left Richee and I particularly tense. The plot unfurls itself deftly until you find yourself captivated by this horror story about something so laughable. You want to laugh, and then you remember that this is something actually happening in the world.

Tickled ultimately reveals not just the dark side of tickling and the internet, but the petrifyingly intense way people with wealth and power will abuse their position. Farrier and Reeve do well to investigate deep into a subject that even their producers became scared of. The gonzo style of the documentary fools you into a light hearted expose, but instead the pace gets slower and we are dropped into something much darker.

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