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Summary

Join best-selling author Jon Ronson as he traces the story of one very strange butterfly effect: What happened after a teen in Brussels figured out how to make porn free and easily accessible on the internet. Traveling from the tech world of Silicon Valley to the San Fernando Valley, where most porn films were made, you learn the consequences of free porn, which turn out to be mysterious, shocking, sad, and, at times, even surprisingly sweet. A 7-part series takes you on a journey to places you’ll never expect. [Explicit]

This is an Audible Original Podcast. Free for members. You can download all 7 episodes to your Library now.

©2016 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2016 Audible Originals, LLC

Critic reviews

"It makes for a gripping listen, a story that unfolds in a madly unpredictable way." (The Guardian)

"A sympathetic look at performers and producers in the porn industry, that's never once prurient or judgmental." (Rolling Stone)

"On the radio, Ronson comes across like Hunter S Thompson as played by Alan Bennett - an odd mix of gonzo chutzpah and cuddly politeness. He charms and is charmed by his interviewees. As a result, he has a rare gift for revealing the human side of people who have been dehumanised." (Daily Telegraph)

"The Butterfly Effect has the same level of detail and widescreen storytelling that you would expect from a television documentary." (Financial Times)

"Fascinating." (VICE)

What listeners say about The Butterfly Effect

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    5 out of 5 stars

Jon Ronson's journalism at its best - and free!

I like Jon Ronson's writing style so I was curious about this free audio show when I signed up for Audible. Even if I would have never guessed to be interested in the story of Pornhub, his research approach and sincere way of interviewing really makes it interesting and made me want to come back to it every day. You do need to get used to Jon's voice, but after a few episodes it didn't catch my attention anymore. I'm glad I tried this show though before buying one of his audio books, because I might have regretted my purchase during the first chapters. Now I am used to his voice I know I'd be comfortable listening to him for 10 hours. It's not as lighthearted as you would expect from the subject, but it really opened my eyes to how much effect a single website/platform can have on the rest of the industry. And this must go for many other, less "niche"/"extreme" companies. Always an interesting subject, the butterfly effect. Since it's free for Audible members, just add it to your library and you can always decide to jump in when you don't know what to listen to next!

40 people found this helpful

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I loved it, I cried, but mostly I laughed.

I thought this was beautiful, which is something I hadn't expected to be writing in this review. I wasn't really aware of Jon Ronson until today when I saw him, perhaps ironically, on YouTube. I fell in love with his style almost immediately, though at times it does feel a little 'gossipy'. I guess this is probably a technique adopted for the sake of drawing information from his interviewees and so my brain decides to accept that excuse and try not to cringe on the few occasions this occurs rather than throw out the baby with the bathwater and lose out on all the wonderful aspects of Jon Ronson's work. There is a lot to love here in both the presentation style and the content being presented. Jon Ronson has a very relaxed style of presentation which is very engaging, somehow personal and confidential as if he was speaking directly to me whilst at the same time open and gregarious as if he's presenting a great gift to the world, and he is. The stories presented here are simply human stories, not sensationalised tabloid trash about the dark goings-on in the lurid world of a steamy sex industry. In my opinion each of the subjects of these stories is treated with equal sympathy and respect, even when there has been a little laughter regarding their stories initially as in the case of the stamp collector. I think this initial laughter and amused astonishment is a very human reaction to what seems to be a very bizarre situation and I'm glad these moments have not been edited away in fear of negative reception. In these moments I feel Jon Ronson becomes part of the story himself and probably represents many of us, the listeners, thereby giving me the feeling of being part of this huge, awful, flawed, judgemental, vulnerable, human family. I loved it. In summary, this is a great book which is most often funny, sometimes sad, once or twice heartbreaking, but always packed to the brim with human dignity. It made a 47 year old man cry. Buy it.

5 people found this helpful

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A first rate introduction to the PornHub scandal

Gripping documentary on the consequences of Pornhub takeover of the global porn business. It doesn't give the solution but watch this space.

4 people found this helpful

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A meandering and judgemental op-ed

It had the potential to be interesting, but instead it turned out to be a fairly inconsistent and oftentimes ironically judgemental piece. Example 1: What have sex dolls bought for dementia sufferers got to do with free porn? Nothing. Example 2: to a sex offender (who he views as harmless) the author says it would be terrible to have to live in a place with other sex offenders - in contravention of his distaste of the stereotypes he has just railed against. There are quite a few interesting tidbits throughout, but they are fairly incoherently pushed together to seek to form a topic, which becomes a little frustrating.

13 people found this helpful

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Enlighten yourself and challenge your prejudices

I was not sure what to expect since this was my first experience of John Robson. Ronson deals with the subject matter with care and an intelligent approach that tells it as it is without making it a joke or smutty but in a very human way so as the listener you feel you are properly engaging with the people he speaks to. Thanks for the enlightenment - who would have thought Pornhub would have touched so many different people, in different worlds so much. My lasting memory is that none of us have the right to judge since non of us know where our path will take us and who ever goes through life not making decisions they later regret. We all make the best decision we can, given our personal circumstances, but sadly so many people don't have that many options and end up making one bad decision that stays with them for the rest of their life.

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A brilliant insight

The Butterfly Effect looks at the effect free porn has had on the industry. Jon Ronson looks at the industry and focuses most of his efforts on one man, Fabian, the creator of PornHub – probably the world’s most famous free porn site. There are many interesting snippets that are revealed, and without giving too much away Fabian essentially got very rich while giving away porn for free. Those who make porn. Not so much. The consequences reach further than that of the producers, the performers are also obviously earning a lot less money so need to turn to other means to supplement their income. There have also been far reaching consequences on society. I found the section dealing with young men and teenagers particularly interesting. It is certainly a fascinating look at the effect of one business decision. During the podcast Jon speaks to many producers and performers to see what they are doing to make ends meet, and how they feel about Fabian and his websites. I thought it was fascinating and would recommend you give it a listen – but even though I really enjoyed it, it pales in comparison to the follow up, The Last Days of August.

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A necessary investigation

I’m blown away by the quality of this audio documentary, from production to final edit. It’s rare to see such interesting storytelling in non-fiction material like this one. Well done guys!

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a lot of repetition

With the highlights, then the main show, it felt confusingly repetitive. Interesting story, with interesting people, but was waiting for more penetrating insights. Was often left thinking "and...?"

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Why

I have never heard a more annoying voice in my life. The content is great, the voice however is not.

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Great content but a rotten player app

This item was entirely ruined for me by a barely functional Android player app. It displayed the incorrect chapter number, failed to move on automatically and resisted all attempts to force it to cooperate. I will not bother with any more of these offerings - too frustrating!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Leigh
  • 01-02-18

Incredible story; couldn't stop listening

What did you love best about The Butterfly Effect?

The narrator/author is intensely compassionate, thoughtful, and respectful. His interviews are fascinating, touching, and often funny. The people he meets completely open up to him. The narrator is Welsh, but don't worry if you aren't good with accents. He's got a very engaging radio voice that I found soothing and completely comprehensible (I'm from the States).
The case the author presents on the ethics of free pornography is nuanced, not preachy. There is some sexual content, but this is not a sexy or sensationalist piece. There are a lot of big ideas here about public health, economics, change, and the human psyche. Like most well-executed analyses, this series doesn't really align with a particular political agenda. This series may be of interest to all kinds of people. Also, the narration and production quality are great.
This series left me thinking critically, especially about how to discuss pornography with kids. I feel enlightened but not depressed.

4 people found this helpful

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  • mike
  • 31-03-18

Fascinating Subject

If you could sum up The Butterfly Effect in three words, what would they be?

Out Of Control

Any additional comments?

The subject of free porn might be too taboo for the media to cover but Jon Ronson takes it by the horns. He highlights the ripple effects free porn has caused from the struggling porn industry to the side effects it has on the youth. Backed up with fascinating interviews it will open your eyes and shock you.