The New Podcast Everyone’s Talking About |
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Forget Serial, S-Town and Desert Island Discs – there’s a new podcast everyone’s talking about, and it’s possibly more gripping than its predecessors. The Butterfly Effect is the brainchild of journalist Jon Ronson (of Radio 4 and This American Life fame), and charts what happened when one man made pornography free and available to the masses online. Intrigued? Find out more…

So what exactly is it about?

The opening episode features an interview with a man named Fabian, who founded the umbrella site which hosts PornHub and other free pornography platforms. The succeeding episodes chart how surprisingly varied individuals and demographics have been affected by the free availability of adult films online, from young people exposed to explicit content to participants within the industry itself.

What’s the format?

There are seven episodes, each around an hour long, narrated by Jon Ronson, along with interviews from contributors and his own commentary.

So what has the impact of free porn been on the industry?

Multiple porn performers have been put out of work, as films are being tailored more and more to be search engine optimised. That means that in an age where ‘babysitter’ and ‘MILF’ are the most searched for items, there’s not much work going for actresses in their mid-20s. Plus directors and producers frequently have their work pirated and distributed for free, impacting their earnings.

And society more widely?

The podcast charts some catastrophic effects – one episode follows a young Aspergers sufferer put on the sex offenders register for repeating terms he learnt watching free online porn to a classmate, another how individuals are more susceptible to porn and sex addiction now so much free content is readily available.

Any episodes we should particularly look out for?

Episode X, which describes the process behind bespoke porn – a user generated service offered by production companies in LA who tailor-make pornos for viewers. Some customers use this for depraved, complicated acts they can’t otherwise get on mainstream channels, whilst others use it to exorcise their demons – one heavily documented incident sees a man ask for a film of two girls destroying the stamp collection he was bullied for as a child.

Sounds pretty shocking…

You learn a quite lot about the porn industry itself and what’s asked of the actors and actresses, but mostly it’s the dark side of adult filmmaking in an internet age that’s under the microscope. Whilst some of the stories told tug at your heartstrings, it’s really an interesting case study into how the internet transforms and reshapes industries.


The Butterfly Effect hits iTunes in November – for now, you can listen on Audible (we recommend using your free trial for this one).

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