Not As Interesting As I'd Hoped
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 01/02/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As a person who does spend some time in gay Internet chat rooms, I purchased this video sight unseen. I reasoned it to be an interesting enough topic to take a chance on buying the film without being previously familiar with it, which is always a risky proposition. What I got were mixed results for which the filmmaker gets an A for effort, but the film on the whole was a bit less than satisfactory and not as fascinating or as revelatory as I'd hoped.
Writer / director Todd Ahlberg spent several months finding likely contributors by doing ad-hoc surveys in gat chat rooms, and assembled what he judged to be a fairly representative group of diverse gay men who cruise the net. He then interviewed them, and pieced the interviews together into a fairly cohesive documentary that presents many of the interviewees' opinions, gripes and aspirations, but offered little solid analysis of the phenomena known as "cruising the net".
The film is about an hour long, and as much as the subjects get to talk about what attracts them to on-line cruising and we hear some interesting stories, the film seems to conclude that many of the gay men who spend time on-line are sexually compulsive, addicted to cruising, inordinately lonely or all of the above. The problem is that the film doesn't offer much in the way of solutions or alternatives. I kept waiting for some of my own observations of on-line cruising to surface (such as the chronic ageism that permeates the chat rooms) or some of my pet peeves concerning the meat-rack that is cyberspace (such as the endless rudeness and shallowness of many of the participants) but a lot of my concerns as well as many thing that I would have liked this film to address were not covered. I wanted the film to branch out into still more issues and observations, but, as a film that ran only one hour, there just wasn't time.
I was also confused by the information presented on the DVD box. It read: "Feature: approx 60 minutes; extras 100 minutes". I wish they wouldn't lie about such things. The feature did run about an hour, but the "extra's" consisted of a short but informative "making of" piece that lasted about 20 minutes, and the trailer, which was three minutes long. Even if you count the directors commentary (which I don't think should count) it hardly comes up to anywhere near 100 minutes. I think it's time that distributors start being held accountable for such things. I don't consider the film a complete waste of time, but I am looking forward to a more fully realized documentary that really does the subject justice.
SEX ON THE NET
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 12/15/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
Sex on the Net
Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride
"Hooked" (Eclectic DVD) is a documentary about gay online cruising and hooking up. It is not about love or friendship but about raw sex. Filmmaker Todd Ahlberg traveled all over the United States to explore all of the many aspects to online cruising and met with dozens of computer users. His emphasis is on the lighter side of the phenomenon by showing the satisfaction of instant gratification and takes a good, hard look at the rules (basically unspoken) by which the whole business works. His conclusion is that the seductiveness for online cruising with its false promises of quick connection in actuality leads to alienation.
Through a series of interviews, we hear of men who aggressively and actively use the internet in search of quick sex. Through many different ways the internet has changed the lives of many gay men and there exists online a veritable endless feast of sexual possibilities.
Ahlberg finds that in most cases the internet is overcrowded with liars---men who disguise their real appearances by inaccurate profiles with preposterous physical measurements ("stats") and by posting pictures of themselves from bygone days. The danger of online cruising is also presented when we see how many men will go to visit apartments or isolated locations which put their safety at risk. (It seems that an erection has no conscience). It seems that the majority of men who engage in online cruising are only interested in quick and anonymous sex (in some cases conversation and eye contact are avoided completely)m and therefore the whole aspect of self-preservation does not exist to men online.
Those interviews tell their own personal stories of adventures they have ad and do so openly and candidly. Language is not monitored nor is frank discussion of what happens when the guys meet each other. If any of you have ever gone into online chat rooms, I am sure you understand what I am saying here. What else is also fascinating is that everyone agrees with the danger and the fact that so many lie about so many things, the fact that people continue to use the internet for sex. Some of those interviewed are online sex addicts who will go on nod never log off, even while having an encounter. For example, if you set your computer to go to gay.com and go into the Arkansas chat room, there are some characters that live there. There are several whose names I have seen every time I log on and are always there regardless of time or day of the week. A friend told me that he used to log n seven years ago and they were there then. The internet has become their lives; they do not go out, do not work regular jobs and spend their waking hours in a gay chat room. Obviously they are not having sex because they are always chatting online or if they do meet someone there, they just let their computers continue to run while they step away for a respite.
After watching forty minutes of the film, it became a bit tiresome--especially after the shock of the whole thing wears off. The details given by those in the film about their voracious sexual appetites and their addiction to the internet to feed their carnality all begin to sound alike. Perhaps if the director had focused on only a few men instead of as many as he did the film would have been a lot more creditable.