Sunday, 1 October 2017

The Coolidge Effect (Thoughts and Comics)



This isn't about the theatrical quality of Wonder Fool's production of The Coolidge Effect. This isn't about the moral conclusions that the production suggests - that pornography has a negative impact on human sexual relationships, but that impact might be softened if individuals are part of a comfortable community and have healthy interactions with other people and their environment. This isn't about the audience interaction by performer Robbie Gordon.

It's about the first ten minutes of the show, and the finale. Both of these scenes rely on a description of the experiment that led to the Coolidge Effect theory. 


Robbie Gordon's description of science exists within a theatrical performance, and the 'truth' within that performance is defined by the beliefs of the characters. However, this is not a traditional play script - it uses aspects familiar from 'live art' and has an episodic rather than lineal narrative - and has an explicit message. This makes it closer to an 'agit-prop' play or an educational lecture. Indeed, Wonder Fools are explicit that their intention is to begin a conversation.

Scientific theory is used to lend authority to their role in the conversation. Yet in using it, they perform science. In their performance of science, they strip away the qualities - scientific method, the demand for skepticism, the series of checks and balances, the peer review - that lend authority to the theories. 

 It is intended as an introduction to a conversation about the use and affect of pornography (within the context of its ubiquity on the internet), but the foundations are unsteady. 


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