Television’s Portrayal Of Adult Blogging

By | December 17, 2007

AlexSuze, SuzeSonic made a comment on one of yesterday’s posts asking what we thought about the recent Channel 4 documentary “The Sex Blog Girls”. Rather than answer in a comment I thought I’d answer in a more considered manner in a post.

We didn’t remark on the show at the time because quite frankly we thought the programme was pitiful. Its portrayal of adult blogging was almost wholly inaccurate and the ideas they chose to feature were so thin that it could have easily been condensed into a half-hour slot, or less.

What came across was a light-weight programme made by researchers who really should have looked at their job descriptions and actually done some research. The programme’s mini-site at Channel4.com here declared that adult blogging is dead. The programme re-iterated this when it aired. Well sorry “researchers” but there are hundreds if not thousands of genuine adult bloggers out there still writing and thousands of people each day read what we create.

So for the reasons above we chose not to give it any more attention than it deserved.

Frankly though we didn’t expect anything else. TV’s interpretation of anything sexual has to conform to the guidelines laid out by UK law. We have taste and decency guidelines and legislation in this country to ensure that only content suitable for those individuals viewing a transmission is aired. If a director/producer and their team are talented this means they find innovative solutions to the problems posed by the presentation of delicate content. They ensure that a subject is discussed fully and frankly without crossing the boundaries set out for them.

What happened with the “The Sex Blog Girls” is that a TV company got hold of an idea and appeared to decide what their conclusions should be without actually talking to anyone or researching the subject. If this was Channel 4 or the production company is irrelevant, the mistake started there. They then went out and interviewed a few people like Emily Dubberley, Abby Lee (Zoe Margolis) et al and cut together a programme that they believed supported their presumptive conclusion.

I felt sorry for Emily and Abby during the programme as they didn’t seem to be saying a great deal. They appeared a bit wooden as if they’d been wheeled out to do a piece-to-camera and then heavily edited. For women who have been writing for such a long time and would have been teeming with ideas and insicive discourse on the subject of adult blogging they were stilted and repetitive. I can only put this down to the heavy editing that must have been used to filter out all the non-obvious (and therefore interesting) stuff they had to say and leave one of the three premises of the programme; i.e. women are sexual animals too and should be allowed to express it with the same freedom as the other half of the population.

I don’t disagree with that point, no right-thinking person would. To disagree with the idea of sexual equality is to attempt to oppress and suppress one half of the population. If you read the last sentence of the last paragraph out loud it takes about four seconds to say. Not 44 minutes of air time.

The second point was obvious; If your family found out they would be shocked and the effect on the relationship between the blogger and their family, the blogger and their friends, the blogger and their work colleagues would all be irreversibly altered.

No shit Sherlock!

Again I agree but not ground breaking documentary journalism.

Finally there was the “Tabloid Sting”. That would be what? According to the documentary, to paraphrase Zoe, “I received a bunch of flowers saying congratulations on the book”. Somehow the tabloid in question had found her name and address. But the poor lass wasn’t given the opportunity to explain how they found out. Anyone could have given her name to the papers and the documentary didn’t explain what had happened.

To me a tabloid sting is dressing some guy up as a Sheik and nailing crooked arms dealers. Not getting a tip-off about the identity of an author and sending her a bunch of flowers. That’s a hack following leads. The effect was to leave me initially wanting to know what had actually happened for a moment, then thinking “Do I give a monkey’s?”.

And don’t get me started on the repeated shots of skinny girls typing naked on a laptop or the tracking shot of newspaper headlines used three times in the space of ten minutes. Someone ought to tell TV companies that audiences are more sophisticated than that these days. Oh, I just did.

The show was a missed opportunity, which is particularly surprising from Channel 4, a TV channel for whom I have always had a great deal of respect. They have provided some interesting, enthralling and ground-breaking television in the past.

I suppose we’re all allowed a Turkey from time to time especially at Christmas.

Tags: Abby Lee, Zoe Margolis, Girl With A One Track Mind, Channel 4, The Sex Blog Girls, sex blogging, sex blogs, adult blogging, adult blogs, tabloid newspapers, red tops