Five Hard-Hitting Documentaries From The Genius That Is Louis Theroux
Ahead of the release of My Scientology Movie – Louis Theroux’s much anticipated documentary on a very secretive religion – we’ve picked out five ofthe most hard-hitting and controversial – but fascinating – of his films.
Check them out here:
A Place for Paedophiles
For A Place for Paedophiles, Louis visited the Coalinga State Hospital in California: a mental facility that houses “sexually violent predators” (predominantly child molesters) who have served their sentences, but aren’t deemed fit to rejoin the community.
They can be kept at this facility indefinitely, and there are options for therapy, although it isn’tmandatory.
Louis – the first documentarian to be allowed into the hospital – interviewed various “individuals” (they can’t be called inmates as it’s not a prison, and they feel that “patients” is demeaning), as well as members of the staff.
He examined the various controversies surrounding the hospital, including the fact that many of the inmates believe that they aren’t mentally ill and so shouldn’t be held in a psychiatric facility. They instead think that the “hospital” is a charade designed to keep them locked up indefinitely.
Louis Behind Bars
One of Louis’ most famous films, Louis Behind Bars saw him visit one of America’s most notorious prisons: San Quentin.
Filled to the brim with serial murderers, gang members, torturers and sex offenders, San Quentin is a brutal, deeply racist environment, but not one that seemed to phase Louis.
Ever cool, calm and collected, for this documentary he interviewed some incredibly dangerous men about their crimes, and about life inside. He shone a light on the banality of evil, but also found friendship and love (most remarkably between a Jewish man and a neo-Nazi with a wife and kids on the outside).
TheMost Hated Family in America
The Westboro Baptist Church are infamous for their extremist views: they believe that homosexuality is a sin that should be punished by death, they hate Muslims, Catholics and Jews, and they frequently picket the funerals of fallen soldiers, children or celebrities to let the world know it.
Louis Theroux visited the founding father of this Church – Fred Phelps – and spent a few weeks interviewing various members of his family.
He tried to show how such extreme, illogical and hateful beliefs can be passed down through a family, and howotherwise intelligent people can – in good conscience – stand at a funeral with a picked saying “pray for more dead soldiers”.
It’s a fascinating, but disturbing look at “the most extreme people that [Louis] has ever met”.
Louis and the Nazis
Widely considered as the most dangerous racist in America, Tom Metzger was an active member of the KKK back in the 70s, ran a public access TV show that welcomed anti-abortion lobbyists, Holocaust deniers and pro-segregationists, and is the founder of the White Aryan Resistance.
Louis Theroux met him for his documentary on America’s Nazis.
Trying to find flaws and contradictions in the racist ideas held by Tom, and other American Nazis, Louis also spent time with a mother,indoctrinating her 11-year-old daughtersto be as racist as herself.
He looked at how these girls were influenced by such extreme ideas, despite being too young to fully understand them. One reviewer summed up Louis and the Nazis perfectly, calling it “the most brilliant TV programme I wish Id never seen”.
Twilight of The Porn Stars
Back in the 1990s, Louis Theroux made a documentary about the porn industry, and male porn stars. He looked at the ins-and-outs of the job (if you will), and also examined the dangers it could have, either physically or psychologically.
15 years later, and he revisited the subject. In Twilight of the Porn Stars, he examined how technological process had devastated the porn industry – now there’s almost unlimted free porn on the web – and also looked up the men he had interviewed the fist time around.
He found one in prison, and discovered that another had killed himself. Onehad simply fled.
While this documentary isn’t as fun as the first Fun, it’s fascinating, and doesn’t glaze over any of the difficult moral ambiguities.
You can find Louis Theroux’s documentaries on Netflix.
Let us know your favourites in the comments!