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Jon Ronson - The Butterfly Effect: How Free Porn Ruined The Lives Of Sex-Workers

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So You've Been Publicly Shamed

Jon Ronson is a Welsh journalist and documentary filmmaker whose works include The Men Who Stare at Goats (2004), Them: Adventures with Extremists (2001), and The Psychopath Test (2011). He has been described as a gonzo journalist, becoming a faux-naïf character in his stories.

He produces informal but sceptical investigations of controversial fringe politics and science. He has published nine books and his work has appeared in publications such as The GuardianCity Life and Time Out. He has made several BBC Television documentary films and two documentary series for Channel 4.

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Journalism requires curiosity. and Jon has proven himself as one of the most curious journalists out there, willing to push boundaries and ask uncomfortable questions.

Welsh Born, World Educated

Jon Ronson was born in Wales and his curiosity led him into journalism from an early age when he began his work for CBC radio in Cardiff before he even began a formal study in media. Jon earned a degree in Media Studies at the Polytechnic of Central London.

A self-proclaimed introvert, Jon has always used his eccentricity to push boundaries. He wrote his first book in 1994. Clubbed Class is a journal of travelling where he bluffed his way into a jet-set lifestyle looking for the world’s best holiday.

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This first book truly shows Jon’s personality. He thrives on being alone, and yet he is curious enough to put himself out there in experiments where he can then turn around and report back to people. He is a true journalist.

His experience and true education in journalism come from his world experience. This led him to create some pretty intense Jon Ronson videos like “When Online Shaming Goes Too Far.”

Jon Ronson Loves New York

This Jon Ronson interview begins with Ronson explaining his love of New York City. He enjoys the people, and his ideas for his acclaimed book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed comes from his experiences in New York

Jon Ronson’s study of the culture of New York City led him to the idea of exploring the phenomena of public shaming online, e.g. when individuals become the victim of shame because of something they’ve tweeted. In this study, Jon discovered his own tendency to make fun of his privilege, much like those who became victims of public shame.

He explains the trends of public shaming, comparing people making mistakes to mutations, where they quickly learn to not say the things they’ve said in the past. Unfortunately, those things are already out there on the internet, forever following them.

Jon also discusses how he believes the book has been misused. He was not attempting to make any political statement. He just wanted to talk about how jokes went sideways.

Curiosity Keeps You Employed

Jon Ronson ardently believes that curiosity has helped him stay employed. He went into journalism and continues to explore new topics because of his curiosity, even though he’s had enticing offers. For example, after he wrote Shamed, intellectuals from the dark web invited him to collaborate on projects.

He declined and claims that if you only take jobs you know about, you lose curiosity, and curiosity keeps him doing what he enjoys doing.

The Jon Ronson documentary “The Men Who Stare at Goats” is an excellent example of how Jon’s curiosity has served to produce some excellent work.

Why Porn and Why Podcast?

Studying the world of porn and podcasting about it came innocently for Jon. He incidentally met a pornstar named Princess Donna. The meeting happened after one of his twitter followers tweeted and asked him if he’d ever looked into exploring porn and the shame involved in it.

Because Jon cares about the hypocrisies he sees in himself and humans in general, he began his porn project. Because podcasting is, as he puts it, the “wild west of narrative fiction”, he began podcasting about it.

Curiosity and Journalism

Jon embodies the curious mind of a journalist that we all need. The best journalists understand the world of news and media requires curiosity. Jon digs in and finds the stories that keep us informed.

Let me know what you thought of the episode in the comments below!

Chapters

00:00 | Trailer.
02:23 | Brian‘s thoughts on the episode.
03:42 | Brian’s introduction.
05:01 | How Jon Ronson found the transition to living in New York from London.
06:54 | How social media gave Jon Ronson the idea for writing “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”.
09:36 | The career choice he is glad he didn’t make.
12:34 | What motivated Jon Ronson to write The Psychopath Test, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, The Butterfly Effect. And Last Days of August.
14:22 | Do people realise he is writing about them?
16:09 | When Jon Ronson went Alien hunting with Robbie Williams.
25:24 | Why he started podcasting.
30:37 | Why, after meeting Conner Habib, Jon Ronson decided to do a porn documentary.
34:21 | Jon Ronson at Chateau Marmont with porn star Princess Donna.
37:20 | It’s a mistake to make a documentary about something you’re not inspired by.
38:43 | How Jon Ronson’s porn documentaries differ from those made by Louis Theroux.
41:50 | Comparing what Fabian Thylmann did to porn stars with what Spotify has done pop stars.
43:42 | The rise in watching porn coincided with an increase in erectile disfunction in men.
44:32 | The surprising consequences of the technological takeover of porn.
45:32 | Hunting amongst custom bespoke porn for the most unusual and least overtly sexual porn films.
47:42 | Jon Ronson’s Butterfly Effect and the Last Days of August documentaries were really acclaimed.
50:36 | Jon Ronson rather liked being among the Porn industry, apart from the suitcase pimps.
55:27 | What happened when August Ames committed suicide.
59:42 | When is the moment when you write a screen play.
1:02:06 | How Jon Ronson came to co-write a screen play with Bong Joon Ho director of Parasite.
1:03:16 | Overwhelming ethical responsibility for Jon Ronson when writing about death of August Ames.
1:08:01 | How he recovered from situational depression.
1:09:52 | No one realises how difficult it is writing about public shaming.
1:13:42 | Jon Ronson’s biggest tip for budding writers.
1:14:09 | Effect on him from writing Last Days of August has influenced his recent work.
1:16:27 | Difference in writing screen plays as opposed to books or podcasts.
1:17:34 | What he loves about Los Angeles.
1:19:58 | Is feedback important?
1:22:26 | Jon Ronson’s thoughts on Alex Jones and how they met at Waco and snuck into Bohemian Grove.
1:31:26 | His thoughts on de-platforming people like Alex Jones?
1:33:14 | His views on Twitters free speech policies.
1:37:10 | What causes him the most concern regarding Twitter.
1:38:52 | Why Jon Ronson will not write a book about Donald Trump.
1:40:36 | What he might be writing about in the next ten years.
1:41:28 | Why Jon Ronson isn’t homesick for London, where the British broadcast media treats everyone like a fuck boy.
1:48:46 | Why he wants to write more books and his advice to authors regarding audio versions.
1:50:27 | Jon Ronson’s advise to people who want to be an author.
1:53:20 | His writing process.
1:54:15 | What is Jon Ronson’s superpower.
1:55:36 | The best and worst days of his life.
1:57:39 | What scares him.
1:58:53 | What we would be surprised to learn about Jon Ronson.
2:01:33 | What keeps him awake at night. Is he worried about the world and will we make it as a species?
2:03:28 | Success secrets.
2:04:05 | How to keep in touch with Jon Ronson.
2:05:50 | Brian’s summing up.

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