HBO’s recent documentary series shows how easily a small village community believes lies if its values are threatened. The documentary makers manage to do the same for the viewer as well.
Everywhere intrusive true crime has many unpleasant aspects, but sometimes the genre produces masterpieces of its kind.
One such is the three-part series that can be seen on HBO How to Create a Sex Scandal -documentary series (2023), which tells the story of a brutal legal saga that lasted for years.
It all starts in the Texas village of Mineola in the early 2000s.
At that time, the conservative little village was devastated by the club of swingers that opened in the community. The religious residents saw the activity as debauchery and the place was closed.
This one after, however, the villagers were shocked by much more serious accusations, when several local children accused seven adults of running a pedophile ring. In the videotaped testimonies, the children told how they had been fed pills, taught to dance sexy and even have sex with each other in sex-change circles. In addition to all the ugliness, the children’s parents seemed to be involved in the crimes.
The case went to court, and the outraged jurors had no trouble making their decision: the first defendants received their verdicts in a few minutes. In the documentary, the grown-up children then tell what kind of damage their horrible childhood has caused them in adulthood.
Sound pretty standard horror documentary, huh?
How to Create a Sex Scandal– in the series, however, the recent is only the starting point, under which new twists and turns are revealed as the series progresses.
The viewer gets to see videotaped interrogations of children, stories of those who took part in the events, old news clips and trial recordings. In following them, he is in the position of a member of the jury: he has already formed an image of the terrible events during the first part of the series, and now he has to check his ideas again.
When a child in a video tells detailed descriptions of the flower wallpaper in the house of horrors, should he be believed or not?
Series in the other and in the third episode, the viewer’s assumptions are broken. A horrible place is just an ordinary place, a thought-for-good person might actually be a manipulative monster.
Perhaps the best thing about the documentary is that it makes a comment on the entire true crime genre. It is especially typical for three-part crime documentary series that the possible culprit changes from episode to episode, but usually the viewer does not stop to think about the effect of the authors’ choices on their experience.
Now the form and message of the documentary are one, and the viewer has to check his own motivations.
His way of doing things thanks to this, the series manages to reveal the class racism hidden in us as well. It is easy for a middle-class viewer to believe that the people living in the trailer are immoral outcasts who push their children into the “sex park” to get drugs.
It’s also incredible how much one bad-looking police photo can affect a person’s preconception.
To succeed experienced true crime perpetrators in their ambitious endeavors, By Julian Hobbs and Elli Hakamin, has had to get the people he needs in front of the camera, including those who have committed atrocities. They have succeeded admirably in that. The fact that such a logically progressing story has been created out of a confusing tangle of years also deserves recognition.
Also of interest to Finns is the last part of the series, at the end of which it is shown in detail how children’s interrogations can fundamentally go wrong. Without searching the mind Anneli Auerin children’s apparently unsuccessful hearings.
Must hope the documentary series fixes one more thing. Based on the ending, the legal murder presented in it is not even close to being corrected yet. At least, if the authors are to be believed.
How to Create a Sex scandal documentary series (2023) HBO.
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