Directed by David Farrier & Dylan Reeve
19th – 25th August 2016
Review by Colin Serjent
Despite the title this documentary is no laughing matter by any stretch of the imagination. It is an in-depth investigation into the identity of a phantom figure, whose identity is revealed towards the end of the film, who has built up an endurance tickling empire – seriously! – run under the name of Jane O’Brien Productions.
New Zealand television journalist David Farrier came across this seemingly harmless sexual fetish, which has a heading of ‘Competitive Endurance Tickling’, which is the title for videos featuring men being tied up and tickled by other men. and featured it on his tv programme, which principally deals with oddball behaviour by humans.
After it was screened he received a series of emails of homophobic invective and legal threats from Jane O’Brien Productions. Farrier is perplexed by this vitriolic response and makes him very determined to delve deeper into who or what the production company is/are.
What he and his associate Dylan Reeve unveiled was the power differentiation between the participants featured in the tickling scenes – mostly all disempowered and from poor backgrounds – and those with massive amounts of wealth, who can use that money to manipulate people and cause them great distress with threatening lawsuits as well as cyberbullying.
When the identity of the owner of Jane O’Brien Productions is revealed – the person is not called Jane O’Brien – it comes as a major surprise.
However moral Farrier appears to seem in his pursuit of ‘the truth’ he is not whiter than white himself. For example he secretly recorded a meeting with representatives from the company, before he even had an inkling of the true facts, and recorded a private conversation, and filmed it, with the stepmother of its owner which was included in Tickled. It made me wonder whether he had asked her consent to feature this. Unethical or what.