Listen and learn: revealing podcasts on porn and alcohol

And finally . . . our third podcast selection is Limetown – a six-episode mystery series

British author Jon Ronson addresses the inequality that performers in pornography face in comparison with the protection and wealth of those who bring the product to viewers. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

British author Jon Ronson addresses the inequality that performers in pornography face in comparison with the protection and wealth of those who bring the product to viewers. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

 

The Fridge Light: You’ll Have Another

This episode of the relatively new culinary culture podcast The Fridge Light takes a look at how alcohol is sold.

Beyond the simplicity of cash for pints, this is an examination of the culture of brands and this episode looks at who made gin cool – the first “brand ambassador” who changed bartenders from service workers into culinary influencers.

There’s a lot of talk of “educating” bartenders and customers about the product. The strategic language casts a light on how we’re sold something that can ultimately destroy us.

There are more benign details, such as how tequila ambassadors hand out hats as a means of romancing bartenders into brand loyalty, apart from the quality of the product itself. Have a listen and then the next time you flip through a bible-sized cocktail menu and choose to go wild with a €12 Old Fashioned served in a tiny glass swan with smoke pouring out of the top, you’ll know why those spirits made their way to you. Chances are there was a free hat involved.

Limetown– Episode 1: What We Know

One of Serial’s accidental brood of fictional, haunting offspring, Limetown is a six-episode capsule series, which went online in 2015.

Reporter Lia Haddock assumes the Sarah Koenig role here, a passionate young journalist pasting together an audio investigation of a small town in Tennessee that one day became empty. Every single resident of Limetown disappeared and Haddock is here to find out why – and why the news forgot, and why nobody ever looked closer at the tragedy – and what strangeness lurked underneath, “a ghost story you can barely remember”.

Limetown simply sounds great: the layering of soundscape, interview footage, and how the storytelling intersects with the form of the podcast makes it hugely involving and immersive. I mainlined the six episodes in one sitting when they first hit the digital airwaves, so compelling is the story of this fictional disappeared town, and Lia Haddock’s connection to the case.

There is a second season arriving in 2018, and it’s worth sinking deep into this story before then. The unfolding mystery, the immersive audio quality, and the sharpness of the dialogue make it a real stand-out piece of contemporary audio fiction.

New Podcast Of The Week: The Butterfly Effect Episode 1

Jon Ronson, journalist and author of The Men Who Stare At Goats and The Psychopath Test, hosts this shocking exploration of what happened in one teenage boy’s bedroom in 1990s Belgium and how it changed the world forever.

This podcast is about the intersection of tech and porn – and how one young man disrupted an entire industry, and impacted the lives of many people he will never meet. It is an in-depth look at how Pornhub became the internet gargantuan it is today: and the series promises to explore the knock-on effect of stolen pornography making one or two men rich and respectable while destroying a livelihood for an already highly stigmatised career path.

Ronson brings a lot of empathy to the conversation by addressing the inequality that performers in pornography face in comparison with the protection and wealth of the men who put together the code and algorithms that bring the product to viewers.

Hearing how defensive one interviewee becomes when faced with the negative consequences of free and stolen pornography is startling: Ronson brings a real humanity where otherwise there is only dehumanization and sterile data.

Also worth listening for are the statistics that Pornhub has gathered: users of the site are being watched as they watch and some of the stats are shocking. This is a serious piece of documentary about ethics and consumption.

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