Porn Again: Rashida Jones talks Hot Girls Wanted

Actress, writer and director Rashida Jones explains how technology is changing our sex lives and relationships

Rashida Jones may be better known for acting roles in Parks and Recreation and The Social Network, but her latest work is as one of the directors and co-producers of new Netflix docu-series Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On, exploring the increasing impact of technology on our sex lives and relationships.

“There is a weird paradox where privately everyone is obsessed with sex, but publicly we still consider ourselves a puritanical nation,” Jones says. “Around 70 per cent of broadband is used for porn but people can’t talk about it, there is no intellectual, academic, public debate about it – so how is it going to get any better? How are kids going to learn? We are getting more puritanical, yet people are using porn more – so that leads to shaming, feeling weird or peculiar or alone. And you are not.”

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Generations are growing up having never known a pre-internet age. The need to examine its impact on our lives is urgent, and with pornography an unexplored, unspoken part of millions of lives, this timely series takes a nuanced, feminist perspective on porn, intimacy and connection in the modern age.

“Nowadays, there is this need to present, to self-brand, to share as a means of creating identity,” Jones explains. “It is a pressure I never had as a kid. Kids now don’t know the difference, it is part of who they are, but it affects our intimacy and the way we deal with each other. What is real and what is not real? And will this generation have an understanding of what is real or will their real just be virtual, a verisimilitude of reality as opposed to an actual connection? That is what we explore in the series.

“If my generation try to present themselves differently on social media than they are in real life it is uncomfortable, it is sweaty, it doesn’t quite work. I’ve noticed millennials aren’t uncomfortable with that tension between who they present themselves as online and who they really are.

“We have a scene, about app dating. One girl was talking to her mom, who looks at her through the generation gap and says: ‘I don’t understand why you guys find it so hard to meet people, you are so connected’. She says, ‘I am literally in a room with 100 people and I’m looking at my phone. I am completely disconnected from them.’

Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On builds on the success (and reacts to some of the criticisms) of the original 2015 documentary film, Hot Girls Wanted, directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus with Jones a producer. The filmmakers felt there were many more personal stories to tell, focusing on the intersection of sex and technology. Subjects for the series include dating apps, same sex porn, female-forward porn and representations of race in pornography, all told in a non-judgemental, open, informative fashion.

Rashida Jones (centre) with Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus

“We have to be very comfortable using all the terms,” jokes Jones. “Too comfortable. You never want to be around us in a restaurant.

“My episode is really about female driven porn. Female filmmakers and photographers within the industry. It is not saying everything is awesome. There is a lot of pressure and there is a lot of constriction / constraints and restrictions in terms of supply and design within the marketplace. But it is a celebration of what is possible, because in order to tell stories that express female desire you need a woman to tell those stories.”

Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On is available now on Netflix