Posts Tagged ‘louis theroux’

Transgender Kids

Sunday, April 12th, 2015 | Distractions

Louis Theroux’s second documentary to arrive this year is “Transgender Kids”, a look at children who are transitioning.

It makes sense. Louis voices the question many people think at first – “what if we’re wrong?” It’s true that some changes are irreversible; you can only go through puberty once. However, as the doctor points out, we know the risks of not allowing people to transition. In contrast, we don’t have much evidence as to how many people transition back to their birth-assigned gender, and I’ve never heard of it.

Theroux has previously been accused by some critics of poking the bear with unjustifiably probing questions, or using the same tired format of looking dough-eyed into the camera while he watches people’s struggles. However, I saw none of that in this documentary. It was carried out carefully, bringing insight into a topic without leading the audience.


By Reason of Insanity

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 | Distractions

Long life the termination of Jeremy Clarkson. His actions, forcing the BBC to cancel the remaining episodes of Top Gear, have bumped Louis Theroux’s new documentaries into a prime slot on Sunday evenings. Though given Theroux has a history of speaking to violent, bigoted people, maybe we can expect “When Louis Met Clarkson” to be hitting our screens soon.

Theroux’s new two parter, entitled “By Reason of Insanity”, saw him visit the Ohio State psychiatric hospital to interview people who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity, or in some cases, not fit to stand trial.

It was no wonder this was the first time they have agreed to let cameras in in 50 years. The hospital looks great. Far from the questionable standards Norah Vincent encountered in Voluntary Madness, the building is clean and new, and the facilities look reasonable. Not quite up to the standards of Norwegian prisons, but still pretty good. Of course, it is a treatment centre, not a prison, but it was still heartwarming to see good facilities and good staff to help these people.

Indeed even after conditional release there is still a lot of support. One man who had recently been released was staying at a hotel and received daily drug deliveries to ensure that he stayed on track.

As Chris Bennion points out, we know the format by now. Theroux wandering around wide-eyed and looking innocent, slowly poking people with a stick until they spill their stories. However, it’s a format that works, so why not? The documentaries are both moving and revealing, bringing attention to some of the most sensitive topics in our society.

Louis Theroux’s LA Stories

Sunday, April 20th, 2014 | Distractions, Thoughts

Louis Theroux is my favourite documentary maker. When I read in the BBC Magazine that he had moved to LA and was planning on making some documentaries on his experiences there, I awaited them with much anticipation.

They were not my favourite documentaries he has ever done, but still enjoyable. The dogs one was fairly predictable. It also puts in perspective the destruction of a giraffe in Denmark. One pound in South LA is killing dogs by the dozen on a regular basis. Why are people not up in arms about that? Not to mention all the animals we eat…

End-of-life care helped explain how the United States manages to blow quite so much money on healthcare. Some of the people in there were correct – why not try everything to fight for life if you have the choice? But on a societal level, you do have to wonder whether those resources could be better spent elsewhere. It must be a tough decision for the people who make those kind of budget calls.

The most thought provoking I found was the sex offenders episode. It was pretty clear that nobody thinks these people deserve a second chance. However, if you are going to adopt that kind of attitude, why let them out of prison in the first place? Or put them to death. That is something the US still does of course.

I do not know how this compares to the UK system. I can, for example, get a list of all the sex offenders in my area from a handy site called “UK Paedos Exposed”. However, this seems to be built from user submissions, rather than state-published data. That is a pretty sick website, but not on the same level as the state-run database you can find in the US.

This is available from the UK government, but only if you are a parent or carer and want to check a specific individual. However, The Sun newspaper claim to have plotted every convicted sex offender on a map.

Meanwhile the open access in the US, as Theroux points out, leads to apps like “Offender Locator” that allow you to find them.


Speaking of Louis Theroux

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013 | Distractions

No, he hasn’t announced another documentary.

But he has done what some might consider the next best thing – and produced not one, but two lists of documentaries that he thinks are awesome. I haven’t checked any of them out yet, but I plan to. You can find the lists here and here.

Jonathan Creek

Monday, March 4th, 2013 | Distractions

Having been struck down with the flu most of last week, I’ve been spending a lot of time in bed, watching Jonathan Creek.

It’s actually not that old, the first episode was broadcast in 1997, but it’s certainly starting to show its age. Floppy disks, VHS cassettes, an age before you could and would look up everything on the internet – it feels like a historial drama now. Not to mention that the first few episodes weren’t even in widescreen.

It also left me with a very torn feeling – I don’t want to move out of the city but at the same time, I now have a strong desire to live in a windmill. Tough call.

I’m also very pleased to see that they are making a brand new episode of Jonathan Creek, that will appear this Easter as a one off feature length episode!

Just need a new Louis Theroux documentary now and it will be the best Easter ever…

Twilight of the Porn Stars

Thursday, June 28th, 2012 | Distractions, Thoughts

Louis Theroux’s latest documentary sees him revisit a documentary he did 15 years ago, about the adult industry.

It’s makes me feel very old that the documentary is now fifteen years ago, though with that recently having been screened alongside it brought back some interesting memories – for example in the original, Louis actually appeared in one of the films. He was just an extra, and kept his clothes on, but I’m sure it provides him with a great dinner party anecdote none the less.

I actually felt his blog post about it was more enlightening than the documentary itself was, mostly with him just re-visiting people he had previously seen. A lot of what I saw made sense, but only because of the added commentary I had already read from Louis’s writing (to which I would link to but I can’t remember where I read it; it wasn’t on his official blog).

The industry is described as being one in crisis as YouTube still porn sites overtake the DVD market.

This seems somewhat obviously (as if anyone buys DVDs these days, the new MacBook Pro doesn’t even come with a DVD drive) and rather than it putting them hard times, it seems more that, as with most markets, changes happen and the industry needs to adapt.

The traditional film and music industries are good example of this. Internet piracy is apparently destroying the music industry, but it’s been destroying it since people started making recordings on casette tapes and yet somehow it has survived all these decades.

But to suggest that the internet has prevented the music industry from making any money is simply nonsense. Apple, with its iTunes music store, is now the most valuable company on the planet, ahead of oil giants and banks. Spotify is looking like it will soon be posting profits and as for the film industry, last year LoveFilm sold for £200,000,000. There is clearly money to be made for this willing to adapt to the changing conditions.

The adult industry is the same. People aren’t throwing money at mail order DVDs anymore, but to say that nobody pays for porn anymore is simply untrue. Just like at the rapid expansion of who in 2006 were so profitable that they could afford to spend $14,000,000 on the historic San Francisco Armory to use as a film studio. Plenty of new opportunities have arisen too – cam sites for example is a huge opportunity to take a massive cut out of the strip club market, in the same way that live dealers on gambling sites have taken a cut out of the casino market.

When I first entered the adult market in 2004, it was all about pushing paid content sites. Now the landscape has changed – it’s now about pushing dating sites (I use the term dating sites loosely, casual sex sites would probably be a more appropriate name) because that is where consumers are spending their money these days. They’re not spending less, just as I don’t spend any less on digital music than I did on CDs, they’re just spending it in different ways and you have to change your business model to adapt to this.

If the industry wants to survive and thrive, it needs to be willing to role with the times.

Floating along the Jersey Shore

Thursday, May 17th, 2012 | Thoughts

I really enjoyed Louis Theroux’s recent two documentaries, Extreme Love, even if they were both heartbreaking.

The first, which looked at autism focused on a specialist school in New Jersey. What struck me first though was that I was somewhat thrown as to what I was watching. Was this a special school for autism, or a special school for fat kids?

It sounds like a joke, but I was genuinely shocked as to how many of the children at the school were significantly overweight. Has obesity in the United States become such an epidemic that it has now become so shocking to the rest of the world?

Probably not. A quick google around suggests that obesity is particularly prevelant in children with autism. They use data which is now eight years old and even back then, over 30% of children with autism were reported to be overweight.

This compares with 23% of children who do not suffer from autism – still a very high number though.