In the shocking and hilarious documentary Orgasm Inc., filmmaker Liz Canner takes a job editing erotic videos to be used for drug trial sponsored by a pharmaceutical company that is developing an orgasm cream for women.
The experience launches Canner on a nine year odyssey as she follows the companies that are racing to be the first to win FDA approval for a product to cure a new condition – “female sexual dysfunction.” The potential prize: billions of dollars in profits.
Featuring illuminating footage and powerful interviews with sexperts, therapists, doctors and scientists, this enlightening film explores the strange science of female pleasure and in the process reveals the warped mentality of our pharmaceutical and medical industries. Upbeat, engaging and provocative, Orgasm Inc. will change the way you think about sex.
Orgasm Inc. 8.0
eyelights: it demystifies the so-called Female Sexual arousal Disorder.
eyesores: its short on support for its counter-arguments.
SIDE EFFECTS: May Cause Uncontrollable Laughter, Feelings of Outrage And Amazement Followed By Symptoms Of Withdrawal When Film Ends.
‘Orgasm Inc.’ is a 78-minute documentary film about the pharmaceutical industry’s attempts to find the female equivalent to Viagra, a pill that will increase women’s sexual desire. As Viagra has proven, there are billions at stake, so industry players are all racing to make it to the top. As one can imagine, money, not health, is usually the primary concern.
This film project began when Liz Canner was looking for a lighter project, to counter her more political work. She was offered the opportunity to film an erotic video to be used during trials for a female “orgasm cream” by a company called Vivus, who had once devised a product for men. In exchange, she asked for authorization to interview their staff and follow their work.
Put together over many years, this is a low-budget video, featuring lots of interviews with the people concerned, as well as some amusing animation and lots of news reports – as the events gradually unfold. It mostly focuses on the people behind Vivus, but it also includes The Berman Centre, Proctor and Gamble, as well as one of their counterpoints, New View.
After a short intro, featuring a variety of women describing their orgasms, the film reminds us that 43% of women suffer from female sexual arousal disorder, or FSD. But then it immediately question what FSD is, because it truly is a complex matter: there are many reasons why women wouldn’t want sex or enjoy it. And, for the most part, it’s psychological.
But drug companies define these so-called conditions in order to get approval for their products. They’ve been redefining old ailments and raking in a fortune. According to ‘Orgasm Inc.’ (its source isn’t established), clinical trials by pharmaceutical companies are 3-5 times more likely of getting favourable results than independent studies. If true, it would hardly be surprising.
But what we discover is that the so-called “43%” is based on a survey from the early ’90s, where any “yes” answer to the countless questions was piled into the resulting figure; it was an extremely broad survey. Basically, the number was trumped. Later, the authors were discovered of being linked to Pfizer – the maker of Viagra (and countless other drugs).
To make matters worse, there is a coordinated media campaign by the industry to push the notion of FSD on women. For instance, The Berman Centre, which has become renowned through their links to Oprah, and who coined the term FSD, pushed Viagra in their countless interviews even if it had been proven not to work. The Berman sisters were paid 75 thousand dollars a day by Big Pharma for this.
It’s so out of control that 42% of the spending on pharmaceutical products is in the United States, even though it is only home to 5% of the world’s population. Ironically, Americans don’t live longer. To treat FSD, one company has gone so far as to devise spinal implants to help women’s sexual response, and there are many clinics offering laser surgery to “remodel” women’s vaginas (to tighten and for esthetic reasons).
Through television interviews, Leonore Tiefer of New View tried to educate people, to counter the lies being pushed by pharmaceutical companies. Of course, there was a move by the industry to stop her through a media blitz. Still, she was able to help stop the FDA approval of Intrinsa testosterone patches after a 10-hour hearing – even though Proctor and Gamble had pumped 100 million dollars into advertising.
Carol Queen is also interviewed. She believes that the key problem is that women don’t have a good understanding of their bodies, so they can’t possibly expect good sexual health. She talks about vibrators, history, the former diagnosis of hysteria, …etc. Reinforcing this notion, the film interviews young women about the info they get on sex. Not much, it appears; what they get is through their peers.
It’s clear that, even in a sex-soaked pop culture, we are having a difficult time getting crucial information across to the people who need it the most. There is so much misinformation and disinformation out there, it’s quite astonishing. And dispiriting. It really is all about money over all other concerns. The more dysfunctional we are made to feel, the more we will seek relief. A fortune can be made on our backs.
‘Orgasm Inc.’ doesn’t support its arguments with enough specialists and activists, but it remains a very important document. Like ‘Petals‘, I believe that it’s a film that should be shown en masse to women and men everywhere. There isn’t enough information to counter the deluge of falsehoods that we are being programmed with.
It’s not just our sexual health that is at stake, it’s our psychological health, too. We simply can’t expect to feel good about ourselves if we’re constantly told that there’s something wrong with us – even when there is absolutely nothing wrong. Sure, some of us have sexual disorders. But most of us are completely normal.
We shouldn’t need a cure for normal.
Date of viewing: February 7, 2014