Channel 4's Pornography: The Musical is an operetta about the sex industry.
(Edited highlights of the panel's review taken from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)
I was completely baffled by it. I really admire Simon Armitage and Simon Boswell. I thought that this failed completely. I thought that the musical numbers did not work in any way to elucidate the interviews which were actually fairly tough and fairly grim about what is going on in the industry. This just doesn't offer any new insight. It has some interviews which are partially revealing, but are then broken up with these, I have to say, crass musical numbers. Neither the lyrics nor the music gave me any more insight into the lives of these people or the industry itself and left me with a rather sour taste that actually what you were being offered was something a bit prurient, disguised. It's a shame, because I really admire the makers of it, but I thought it was a failure.
Bonnie, as Mark says they try to give us numbers in two senses, statistics and also songs. Did you learn anything from it?
Well, I learned that Simon Armitage can write some pretty awful lyrics. I was shocked, totally shocked - and I admire both of them as well. It's banal. The women all look exactly alike. What's this with the platinum blonde hair? Almost every one of the women... So it reduced them to anonymity that they didn't deserve. The interviews were interesting. The women could have been interesting. I had no idea - was this a joke, was this real? It's that bad really.
Ian Hislop, Channel 4 is having a strange time at the moment. On Sunday night they had Derren Brown, the illusionist who may or may not have been attempting to commit suicide on TV. They have this coming up, do you understand the strategy there?
I think its fairly traditional strategy for Channel 4, which is put the word "pornography" into something and hope someone watches it. Pornography: The Musical is a new twist. Usually they pretend it's a documentary and they put some porn in it, but this time they have put some music in it. It doesn't make any odds, the musical numbers are as porny as the stuff they're talking about. All the girls were sad and depressing talking about the industry and their career and all that sort of drivel that people always talk when they are put on. You felt well, are they any less exploited by coming on and talking dirty for Channel 4 than they are for actually filming it. A lot of it was very sort of disgusting.
I agree with you, the women are absolutely chattels. They could have had... their stories are interesting, but they're not used in an interesting way. The music is banal and so are the lyrics. It's awful.