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Louis Theroux Reflects on Past Mistakes in New Documentary

Louis Theroux is set to release a new documentary reflecting on his past subjects, and past mistakes.

direct image of subject and topic at hand
Credit: BBC

Like most of us in isolation, film documentarian Louis Theroux has had time to reflect on his past; in his new documentary Louis Theroux: Life on the Edge, he’ll revisit old subjects and issues.

Louis Theroux’s Rise

Louis Theroux began his career as a print journalist after graduating from Oxford in 1991. Working for several American magazines in the early 90’s, it wasn’t until Michael Moore gave him his big television break on TV Nation that Theroux became the iconic documentarian that we know him as today.

Then, in 1995 the BBC hired Theroux as part of a development deal, where he began his first documentary series, Weird Weekends.

From Weird Weekends, Louis Theroux has interviewed a slew of interesting, controversial, and at times abhorrent subjects. His earliest documentaries focused on such groups as the White Aryan Resistance in California and the white nationalist pop group Prussian Blue. Especially with his informal approach and gentle demeanor, he has been able to get inside some of the most biased figures.

However, even Theroux’s kind disposition can not cover up the politically incorrect moments within some of his work. Louis Theroux has recently gone on record to say he regrets “certain encounters” within his documentaries.

Past Mistakes, Better Future

Despite how angry people may seem online in our new age, overall tolerance for people’s race, gender, religion, and sexuality has increased. With this tolerance has come new media standards in the last two decades. What was once “socially acceptable” to write and say in 2000 is no longer blindly swallowed by the public.

Notably, he has reflected on his 2008 documentary Life Behind Bars, a series where Louis Theroux investigated American prisons. In one episode, he was told he would be interviewing a prisoner named Bradley Worledge. Instead, he was introduced to Deborah, a trans woman.

Theroux discusses in episode three of Life on the Edge that he would have rephrased his questions to Deborah. In the interview, he asked her: “do you consider yourself a woman?”

By all means, Theroux’s inquiry was acceptable for the time period. However, in today’s world this type of phrasing is inherently insensitive. Recognizing this, Theroux has said that, “…. now I would have phrased it properly”.

Life on the Edge

showcase past topics Theroux has covered with humorous image
Image: BBC

There are four one hour installments of Louis Theroux: Life on the Edge, with airing starting on 6th September 2020 at 21:00. Often, the future of Theroux’s subjects was left in question. Now, Louis Theroux has had the opportunity to once again interview his past subjects.

This first episode, “Beyond Belief” will focus on Mike Cain and former members of the Prussian Blue, Lamb and Lynx. While Lamb and Lynx have rejected their past beliefs in white nationalism, Cain still stays rigid in his opinions. Having originally moved to Idaho to arm himself in preparation for war with the federal government, Cain feels listened to by Donald Trump.

Regardless of whether you agree with Louis Theroux or will watch his new documentary, there is something hopeful in the chaos of his subjects. Ultimately, Theroux has shown in going back to these people is that humanity is capable of change. I think, especially in our world today, we need to hear that.

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