Netflix Review: Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On (USA, 2017) is fascinating and so important
Directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus, and also a passion project for the actress Rashida Jones, the Documentary 2015 Hot girls wanted was a tough and confronted look at the exploitative and predatory nature of the adult film industry. In his to follow, Hot Girls Wanted: Lit, the trio come together for a six-part series that focuses on the advent of technology and how it has affected the way we view and consume sexual media.
Where the original film pulled the curtain down on an otherwise rudimentary operation – isn’t pornography just about people having fun having sex? – and gave us a glimpse of how emotionally and physically taxing it can be, Alight is a much more systematic affair. In addition to porn, the show focuses on camera modeling, social media applications, and even follows the case of a young girl who was accused of filming her friend being raped and broadcast on the popular Periscope website. .
Alight is truly a top notch series. Its production values are striking and its stories dark and engaging. The interview segments are straightforward and what I enjoyed most was how the directors rested on people’s faces long enough after they finished speaking, just so we could see if they had any doubts about what they were doing.
My favorite episode was Take me private. He follows model Alice, who has been incredibly friendly with a man in Melbourne, Australia for four years. The two are basically in a relationship despite Alice’s marriage, which leads her to come to Australia to spend time with him. The episode is truly heartbreaking and in what is a running trend for the show, is not about tapping into people’s emotions, but rather uses this story to inform and educate. This is Alight most important role: to show your audience how virtual relationships are not synonymous with personal relationships; that despite the drag-and-click nature of dating and casual sex, one truth remains: we all still have hearts and are susceptible to pain. It is the heart of Love me from Tinder tale, which shows how harmful dating apps can be.
It’s sad then that Alight doesn’t always play by its own rules. I was really intrigued by the concept: technology and its impact on sex and dating. However, straight out the door, Jones, Bauer and Gradus make a strong statement about feminism in the porn industry via the opening episode. Women at the top. Let me clarify one thing. There is nothing wrong with believing in something as powerful as women in control of their bodies and identities in an industry that is literally overflowing with testosterone. It is extremely important. My problem is that it doesn’t fit within the living room premise, which makes it completely out of place. There are also several other moments throughout the series where the men are painted as villains and the issue is less about my views on gender equality and more about the producers trying to surreptitiously preach their agenda. It’s puzzling, only because that’s not the subject of the series and Alight is a wonderful study when it isn’t trying to make you feel guilty for being a man.
It has its other flaws. The final episode Don’t stop spinning is pretty weird. He fails miserably in trying to make us empathize with a girl who broadcast the rape of her friends. He has a valid point to make about how teens thrive on likes and followers, sometimes blinding their better judgment, but his execution is rushed and oddly managed. There are also reworked elements from the original film that we didn’t really need to see fleshed out anymore.
If this review goes like I didn’t like Hot Girls Wanted: Lit, so I implore you to look at it in a different light. I think I just wanted what I was told I was going to get – its title, its poster, its synopsis. And for the most part, I have, but sometimes it falters. Despite its inappropriate episodes and its not-so-hidden agenda, I really enjoyed Alight. It’s hard to watch, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s fascinating and so important. Above all, although our female trio does raise relevant points about the current world we live in today. We live life on the run, we crave acceptance and sometimes people get hurt or lose control of who they are and Alight may be the first step in helping navigate these treacherous waters.
Exam score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Hot Girls Wanted: Lit is available to watch on Netflix now.