Tickled is a small documentary I watched right before the year came to an end and have been waiting to review since. The thing that makes Tickled so unique is that it starts off as this funny little project about some wacky journalist that stumbles upon competitive endurance tickling videos and then spirals out of control, becoming a story about the abuse of the youth, control, and perverseness.
I hate calling films “rides,” but Tickled is a wild ride through one of the weirdest places of the internet. Not only that, but it expands from there and reaches out into reality where some these tickling-businessman will go to extreme lengths in order to secure their fetish-borne emporium. That’s where David Farrier and his documentary crew come in, demonstrating the power of journalism and how two dudes with a camera and a very determined mind can stop a couple of bullies with way too much money.
As I mentioned previously, Farrier just happens to stumble upon these ridiculous videos of incredibly athletic young men in full Adidas gear strapping other men down and tickling torturing them. To anyone and to Farrier this seemed absurd and immediately requested an interview, an interview which he was immediately denied after receiving a threatening e-mail from the company at the head of the tickling empire, Jane O’Brien Media. That’s where it all begins and while most people might have stopped after being threatened they’d get sued into poverty, Farrier and his partner diligently persevered until reaching the end of this, slowly uncovering how something so innocent as tickling could be turned into something of such a depraved nature.
As they track the people in charge of this whole operation, Farrier discovers what the head of Jane O’Brien Media is capable of doing just to protect his beloved fetish. From ruining teenagers lives to sending sickening postal cards about his dead brother to another victim, Farrier discovers he’s not just uncovering the work of a bully, but taking down a manipulative monster and that’s why Jane O’Brien’s mysterious owner is so afraid. In this doc you’re aren’t just tracking the discovery of some wild tickling fetish, you’re noticing the sheer power people put into protecting that which they love even though it might be something horrible and most importantly you’re following the story of a journalist standing up for what he believes to be right and fighting the good fight by applying all his knowledge about being a proper journalist into taking this enigmatic figure and his cruel empire down.
David Farrier does a tremendous job in transforming this tale about this weird thing he stumbled upon online into a story of David versus Goliath, perfectly capturing every moment of the battle. Tickled is a documentary that starts off as something small and insignificant that goes onto to explore much stronger themes regarding power and passion, as well as display the rightful application of proper journalism. Much like Spotlight, Tickled does something fantastic where it demonstrates the power of the journalist and destroys the villainy of the abuser through an intelligent takedown that’s now been recorded down in history.