The Butterfly Effect
This buzzed-about Audible Original is just the thing to appeal to mass-market podcast consumers and super-listeners alike. It's a limited, bingeable series that shines light into the dark and secret crevices of our culture, and it's powered by a narrative sophistication that's comfortable with ambiguity. Presented by the deceptively mild-mannered British journalist Jon Ronson (The Psychopath Test, So You've Been Publicly Shamed), the aim is stated clearly at the outset: Ronson wants to understand how the advent of streaming porn, and in particular the success of Pornhub, has changed the world. This question takes him in directions he never imagined, deep into the welcoming world of porn performers and producers in the San Fernando Valley. The industry is on its knees in the wake of Pornhub's success, and the only porn that's thriving is "custom" - bespoke videos tailored to individual customers.
Ronson is the right man for the job here, clear-eyed and gentle and not afraid to just keep asking. The series as a whole is an unqualified pleasure; we inhaled it over the course of three hours, but it has lingered far longer in our minds. Hear it via Audible now or iTunes in October.
Gateway episode: Chapter 1