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Seeking Fit Young Men to Listen to Our Podcast About Tickling

Listen to our chat with David Farrier, the director of 'Tickled.'
Image: YouTube

David Farrier is used to uncovering bizarre information. Whether it's tracking the legend of the Mongolian death worm or interviewing teens who get high off of their own fermented feces, it's all in a day's work for the New Zealand culture reporter. But his latest project—a film that dives into the world of competitive endurance tickling—was a lesson in the strange side of life, even for him.

"Something went off in our brains that, okay, this is maybe bigger even than we think it is, or more serious, or there's something more to it," Farrier told me via Skype.


Tickled, Farrier's first feature-length documentary, chronicles his and co-creator Dylan Reeve's journey around the United States in search of an elusive and litigious figure name Jane O'Brien. O'Brien solicits young men from around the world to star in online tickling videos, where they're strapped down while other athletic young dudes torture them with tickles (all while fully clothed).

What begins as a fun investigation into a weird pseudo-sport quickly spirals out to reveal some of the darkest powers of the internet: online harassment, blackmail, and hacking. The film is equal parts titillating and disturbing, kind of like being tickled.

"In a way, Tickled is like a cautionary tale of the internet," Farrier said. "If you're an internet native, you know that people catfish. You know that everyone isn't who they say they are. But there are still ways that people can get tricked. Just when you think you've heard it all, there's going to be something else."

Without spoiling the film for our listeners who haven't yet watched it, I spoke with Farrier on this week's Radio Motherboard about the broader topics Tickled brings to light, from online harassment to internet tribes to hacking. We may all be more internet savvy in 2016, but there are still plenty of dangers online and, sometimes, they're lurking in the most bizarre places.