The “drive-thru for sex” that the Internet represents for many gay men is scrutinized in “Hooked,” a reasonably engrossing first docu feature for helmer Todd Ahlberg. Scanning online chat rooms, dating hookups and sex sites through interviews with numerous 20- to 50-year-olds nationwide, smoothly assembled pic arrives at the unsurprising yet thoughtful conclusion that cyberculture’s hyper-availability of needy folks creates yet another locus for modern addictive behavior. Gay fests and highly specialized cable outlets should bite.
Fairly diverse interviewees make the Internet seem superficial, with oft-misleading person-to-person contact (and its sometime face-to-face physical followup) only leading to greater loneliness. “Having sex is easy — relating to other people is hard,” one notes. Ease of cruising for sex online is presented as yet another facet of our “disposable culture,” where immediate gratification displaces depthed communication. Dangers of meeting total strangers are just briefly addressed; sexual-encounter descriptions are fairly graphic. Though some participants say the ‘Net helped them “come out,” more cite a desensitized dependency on anonymous sex. Several are now “in recovery.” Talking-head footage is judiciously broken up by graphics and shots of real interstate (not Internet) highway.