WHY IS MY MOST-WATCHED DOCUMENTARY ATTRACTING THE MOST OUTRAGE?
Updated: Aug 1
Never, in 15 years of uploading videos to YouTube, have I seen the words 10,000 VIEWS sitting quietly underneath one of them. Until yesterday.
[Obviously, I discount the quarter-of-a-million views for this video. Perfect illustration of how a media scandal combined with YouTube search can make a crappy video go viral, if you ask me]
So, why has 'Waiting With a Killer' outperformed everything I have ever made? Why more views? Why more fury? Why more anger? Why has it fuelled more personal attacks on me as a human?
In the interests of balance, before answering these questions, I wish to thank everyone who has been so generous in their praise for this documentary. Without your positivity, there's every chance I would resign myself to the belief that I have indeed made a giant misstep with this release:
You need only read the comments underneath the documentary on YouTube, however, to understand the scale of the opposing views:
"Abhorrent", "Horrible", "Exploitative", "Disgusting", "Vile", "Worst thing I've ever seen".
So, why the disgust? To answer this, I must first concede that my first-hand experience of drugs and mental illness is on par with my first-hand experience of polygamy & pimping: I have zero experience of either. With that in mind, then, we must accept that I am perhaps naive to the signs of drug abuse or mental vulnerability. I say this not to concede that Matthew [the documentary's main contributor] is a victim of either, rather, I say this to concede that if he is, I would be the least capable person I know of detecting it.
My nativity regarding certain 'life traps', however, is something of a blessing when producing the kind of unscripted stories I do. Why? Because simply put, it frees me of judgements that might otherwise undermine my willingness to talk fearlessly to random people who willingly and spontaneously share jaw-dropping stories with me. Hand on heart, until people started speculating about Matthew's use of Methamphetamines, I had never even heard the term 'tweak'. Had you?
I wonder if the people who accuse me of exploitation have a better understanding of drug abuse and mental vulnerability than me? Possibly. Maybe, then, it's their heightened awareness that makes them more sensitive to the symptoms - causing them discomfort when they see it. In contrast, I felt no such discomfort, because as far as I was concerned, I was simply talking to a man, albeit, a man with an unfathomable repertoire of life experiences.
The next question, then, is do the people condemning the existence of this documentary know, for a medical certainty, that Matthew is a drug abuser or mentally vulnerable? Of course, the answer is no. Sure, he might be both, but for a medical certainty? No.
[NB: My YouTube channel is not monetised, by the way]
Matthew, to me, is just another fascinating person who captured my imagination while I was going about my day, minding my own business. We got on. We spoke. I sought his content before publishing our talk. He granted his permission without hesitation.
The only regret I have about this encounter is absent-mindedly not pressing 'save' when I punched Matthew's email address into my phone. Maybe, with a means of contacting him, I could further dig into his story.
Or, maybe there's an argument for saying my absent-mindedness was the universe' way of ensuring I never speak to Matthew again. Maybe we've already spoken enough. Maybe all questions resulting from his story are best left to viewer interpretation.
Regardless, whatever you think about this documentary, I remain unflinching in my celebration of your right to think it.