Last night's viewing - The Face, Sky Living; Porn on the Brain Channel 4

 

If there was a "miaow!" button on my keyboard, I'd have worn it out on Sky Living's new modelling talent show. With Naomi Campbell on the judging panel, it could never be less than diva-licious, but The Face set itself apart from America's Next Top Model and even the superb RuPaul's Drag Race with an extra 20 per cent added bitchy. You see, it wasn't just the contestants in competition last night, it was the judges too.

The elegant and reasonable Erin O'Connor has always been an outsider in the modelling world. This gave her a natural sympathy with the less conventional beauties and a detached perspective in the to-camera interviews. Swedish Victoria's Secrets model Caroline Winberg is not as sweet as she looks, while Naomi Campbell is clearly the show's Simon Cowell stand-in. She doesn't care if anyone likes her, so naturally, they loved her.

The sight of a woman walking might seem everyday, but if that woman happens to be La Campbell, consider yourself privileged. It's like witnessing Novak Djokovic serve or Charlie Chaplin fall over. When she took to the catwalk 24 perfectly symmetrical jaws dropped in unison. "It literally looks like she's walking on water!" said one. "That's the walk of our generation!" exclaimed another. Clearly, none of them have seen the groundbreaking work of Miss J, the cross-dressing runway coach on America's Next Top Model.

And the contestants themselves? Alas, not everyone can win The Face, but I do have some runner-up prizes to dish out. Chloe-Jasmine's camp theatrics win her the Most Instantly Irritating Award (she owes a lot to her reality show forerunner, Katie Waissel from X Factor 7). Sophie from the Rhondda Valley is already Miss Wales, but she gets a special commendation for a smile that could rebuild a thousand former mining towns. The competition was fierce for the title of Reliably Snide 2013, but ultimately the judges felt it had to be Racquel. She wins for a stream of barbs as sharp as her cheekbones, including: "I honestly don't wear a lot of make up because I have beautiful skin. A lot of these girls' faces are plastered."

Whatever Racquel thinks, the fact is they're all such daft, dewy-skinned little ducklings, that you can't help but hope they make it out the other side of this madness with at least some self-respect still intact. A similar anxiety for the youth of today underpinned Porn on the Brain, last night's other TV highlight. There was an appreciable change of tone about 15 minutes into Martin Daubney's excellent documentary on the effects of internet pornography. The jolly Brit-pop soundtrack faded out, the visuals got gloomier and the leering smile melted from the ex-Loaded editor's face. Porn isn't just a bit of harmless bit of fun anymore, is it?

If you read a newspaper, you'd already be aware of many of the programme's revelations: hardcore images are freely available to any under-10 with internet access; young people and teenagers are particularly susceptible to addiction; repeated exposure to such images can cause long-term psychosexual damage. The major interest of Porn on the Brain, though, was watching Daubney come to terms with this information. When a representative of the naughty Noughties feminist backlash says he no longer dismisses the issue as a moral panic, it's a particularly powerful moment.

It was a uncomfortable watch. The frank confessions of teen porn addict Callum were deeply troubling, but most troubling was the queasy sense of guilt shared by all adults who've been too busy enjoying the benefits of the gimme-gimme-gimme internet to forestall its consequences. So, what are we going to do now? Daubney's conclusion – that we have to stop sniggering and start talking – was simple, but it can't be repeated enough.

Comments