I've been sleeping really well for me. I still wake up in the middle of the night and change from couch to recliner, but lately I've actually been going back to sleep and sleeping until 9 or so. I think it's partly due to the new neck pillow I recently bought because I was having neck pains. Whatever the reason, I'll take it.
But when I go back to sleep, it's with the TV on (of course) and so I wake up in the middle of one of the morning programs. Yesterday, it was during the "host chat" of Kelly and Ryan. Kelly was talking about a documentary she had seen the night before. I swear for someone who always seems to be doing something, she watches more TV than I do. Most of the things she watches are things I haven't heard of. And Tickled was definitely not something I had heard of.
Did you know there were tickling competitions? Competitive endurance tickling, to be more specific. The documentary Tickled cover the "sport" and Kelly mentioned she had only seen half of it and was going to watch the other half that night. I decided I'd be all ready for her and found the show on HBO and watched the documentary.
Kelly, amazed that there was such an event, said that it started out very funny and "turned dark very quickly." Tickling turns dark?
Boy does it.
The documentary was made by a reporter from a New Zealand television company which heard about the sport of competitive endurance tickling and wanted to do a story about it. He contacted "Jane O'Brien media," which sponsors the event. I'm not sure how his sexuality was revealed to O'Brien media but he is apparently bisexual and received such an amazing diatribe back which says that this is a "passionately and exclusively heterosexual athletic endurance activity," called him a faggot and demanded he drop any attempt to do a story about it.
Naturally, this did nothing but pique his interest.
He spoke with some participants and learned more about it. The young men had been recruited by promises of expensive gifts and travel (which were all given) and they agreed to participate.
The subject is tied by hands and feet and a crew of ticklers tickle him everywhere -- underarms, ribs, feet, etc. The show never did show the aftermath, or an actual competition (if there is one). It's one of the weaknesses of the show that nothing ever comes to a conclusion.
But the threats continued. Participants who wanted to talk had their lives ruined by defamation campaigns against them, exposing their personal information and contacting school or work associates to discredit them as homosexual or as sexual deviants, in retaliation for challenging or speaking out against the company.
Ultimately it was discovered that the head of "Jane O'Brien Media," was this guy
David D'Amato, a zillionaire (inherited big bucks when Daddy died). The attempt to do...whatever...with D'Amato, a very secretive guy, ended with his death in 2017. Prior to his death he had seen the film the New Zealand guys made and told them "You need to lawyer up. You need to get criminal counsel.".... "The film is a piece of garbage full of lies. Release the audio tapes that show you're lying. And if you don't release it, it's the same as admitting you're lying."
Tickled has received critical acclaim. In a review headlined "fetish documentary goes from giggly to grim", Nigel Smith of The Guardian gives the movie four (of five) stars. Dennis Harvey of Variety states the onscreen presence of the filmmakers "is justified because the harassment they experience in pursuing the story becomes a big part of its narrative". The Salt Lake Tribune, giving it 4.5 stars, said it was "an act of journalistic courage" and that they "reveal the harm that can be done by an individual with a lot of money and a vindictive streak". Manohla Dargis of The New York Times, giving it a Critic's Pick, said Farrier "and Mr. Reeve see the humor, but they also see the pathos—because it's all fun and giggles until someone gets hurt."
[And BTW, Kelly didn't mention it this morning. I think after seeing the second half, she was a appalled as I was!]