Sarah Jones is an artist whose controversial play, Sell/Buy/Date, has affected audiences in a multitude of ways. The playwright/performer has made a film that comes across as a hybrid feature that mixes elements of her stage production and a documentary that shows the aftermath of her play. The result is a rather fascinating and thought-provoking look at the lives of sex workers and how this reality impacts the people who choose this source of income and the world at large.
Jones chose her passion project after losing someone very close to her. This loved one was a relative who chose to become apart of the sex industry. The film follows Jones, after having presented her stage play to multiple audiences. And the reactions have been mixed, with a strong lean into the negative. Some sex workers have reacted poorly, as they feel that someone who has never worked in their business should have no business telling their stories. Jones uses her film as an opportunity to deal with this response and allows these people to express their experiences.
The thing that struck me about this film is that it reflects how an artist can learn much from striking a chord amongst a particular community and how the artist can use this reaction to evolve. This growth and the journey to such is what makes this film so intriguing and fascinating. At the same time, some of the choices that Jones uses often distract from the larger issues she wishes to explore.
In Sell/Buy/Date (the film), Jones portrays various characters she has created based on her life experiences, as reactors to the issues she wishes to explore. While this makes the documentary a bit more entertaining, I feel it often detracts from the gravity of the matters she wishes to examine and open for discussion.
Nevertheless, the fact that Sarah Jones presents multiple perspectives on the sex business and acknowledges some of the different problems associated with it, shows that she is an artist that in search of personal growth. And this is an enlightenment she wishes to impart upon her audiences. The sex industry is a rather complicated entity, but it is, perhaps, complicated because of the stigmas and attitudes imposed upon those who have selected to seek this work as their occupation. In addition, because humanity is judgmental in nature, and often voracious with its appetites, sex will probably remain a matter that is both desired and reviled at the same time. The big takeaway from this film is that there are no easy answers or explanations when it comes to sex in our world.