Louis Theroux is my favourite documentary filmmaker by far, he has this way of making you feel emotions for people that normally you wouldn’t, people you think don’t deserve any form of sympathy. Why is it that he can do this, is it something in our brains, something that only some people have, the ability to feel sympathy towards individuals that we genuinely think don’t deserve it? Or is this just me being a softie with too many emotions for my own good? Louis explores various topics in his many documentaries but some deal with topics that people often shy away from discussing.
Among the Sex Offenders
How he manages to remain unbiased, I will never understand. Reading the title of this episode in his LA Stories series, I immediately thought to myself that I was not going to feel sympathy for anyone featured, but he just somehow manages to get me to feel emotions for these people, some that I would consider scum, that a lot of people would. He interviews them in such a way that he does not judge, he is just looking for answers, to inform people of the stories, I wonder how exactly he can interview these people and not let his emotions show. I recommend watching them, it is so important to expand your knowledge and your views on certain subjects, to explore topics that are interesting yet chilling at the same time.
By Reason of Insanity
It is discussed a lot relating to horrifying cases, the plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, and I have often wondered just how beneficial this form of plea is, do they really deserve to be found not guilty, were they really not in good state of mind, did they really not know what they were doing it and do they regret it? Louis’ two part documentary on exactly this subject is thought provoking and helpful in answering many of my questions. He states it as one of the first times that the doors of an institution have been opened to cameras and he uses his opportunity in a great way, many others could have exploited it and used it for the wrong reasons but of course, Louis would never do that. Through these stories Louis explores different mental illnesses that have caused these people to do unspeakable acts to family members, strangers etc and again, Louis evokes emotions in me that I never dreamt of having for people who have done such things. He shows that while some don’t agree with the use of insanity to be found not guilty, in some cases, these people really were not in the right state of mind, and their illnesses caused them to do things that if they were healthy, they probably would not have done. Which isn’t to say that the act isn’t still despicable, that is not what I’m trying to convey here, murder and sexual assault etc are very serious cases.
So where do we draw the line on the guilty verdict, how mentally ill does someone need to be to be found not guilty, surely anyone capable of doing some of the things displayed in this two part documentary could be seen as not in the right state of mind, should anyone capable of these things and with clear mental problems be found not guilty? It’s a difficult to draw the line with horrible crimes and mentally ill driven crimes. That is the great thing about Louis and his documentaries, he uses his ability and his viewership to educate people on topics they might not normally think about at all and with his style of documentary he shows a different side to the usual stereotypes of people from all walks of life.
A Place for Paedophiles
This is another documentary that before watching I firmly stated I would not feel any emotion towards any of the interviewees and I would in no way shape of form feel sorry for any of them. Somehow Louis changed that, while like his other films, there were people I genuinely felt no sympathy towards, there were others that I felt bad for. How is it that it has been ingrained in my head not to feel for these people and after one documentary interviewing them I feel sympathy towards some of them. Realistically I shouldn’t, I wish I wouldn’t because again, these people have done unspeakable criminal acts, unforgivable in my eyes but somehow Louis has managed to alter some opinions in regards to these men.
It is a tough subject to discuss, one that confuses me. It confuses me that I feel emotions, sympathy or otherwise towards them at all. It feels wrong for me to feel bad for them, it does not feel natural, which is what a good documentary does in my opinion. While Louis also has some documentaries that do not make me feel bad for the individuals involved, I think that has less to do with his style of work and more to do with me as a person, my interests and other factors.
In his documentary on Neo-Nazis in the States, I felt no sympathy except at one point where children were shown to be completely brainwashed by their family, I felt sympathy for them, other than that I felt no emotions towards anyone interviewed in that piece, I wonder why it is that I feel sympathy for some of Louis’ interviewees but not all, especially in the more ‘taboo’ topics, I say taboo because generally the people I have felt sympathy for, don’t get sympathy from the public at all.
I would seriously recommend Louis Theroux documentaries, they are easy to watch if you are just becoming interested in watching documentaries, they are thought provoking, provide good information and delve into topics that I would not have found interesting until I discovered Louis. You can find them on Netflix, some of his most recent ones have not been added to Netflix yet but I suggest keeping an eye out on BBC for new films by Louis, he really is an inspiration documentary filmmaker. Hope you guys enjoyed this blog post as it does not fit into my ‘usual’ topics. Please leave some feedback, I enjoy reading comments!