Dec 16, 2016

A Second Look at James Ray Documentary

CNN will be re-airing Enlighten Us this Saturday evening at 9:00 (check local listings), so if you missed it, you have another opportunity. As I wrote here, I don't think it's good, or fair, but it is worth seeing. I've been doing a little more digging into the odd bits of media coverage surrounding its television debut, because I was left with lingering questions about the director's choices and perspective.

One of the main things I've learned is that there really isn't a lot of interest in this documentary or in James Arthur Ray, as demonstrated by the dearth of coverage. The debut in the Tribeca Film Festival got a little coverage, but not as much as you might expect. I did find a smattering of new material, however. CNN pimped the television debut with some interviews, and, like the documentary, they're worth seeing if only for Ray's unconscious self-reveals.

I also rummaged up a few articles. The most in-depth piece I could find is in People magazine. People is owned by Time Inc., which is part of Time Warner, which owns CNN.

In all these interviews, Ray paints himself as a victim of the legal system, but explains that Kirby Brown, James Shore, and Liz Neuman weren't victims at all. They were heroes. He's kind of heroic himself and hopes his ability to survive all he has suffered can serve as an inspiration to struggling people everywhere. He's taken responsibility, though. He's definitely taken responsibility.

“My work was never on trial,” he says. “The tragedy was on trial. The jury found absolutely no shred of evidence of intentional misconduct or harm. It was a tragic accident, and it was determined to be negligent, and because three people died, it was determined to be criminally negligent.”

So "it" – the "tragedy" – was on trial and found guilty, not Ray. I guess it was the tragedy that was convicted of negligent homicide and went to prison?

Dec 8, 2016

CNN Ignores Victims in James Ray Doco

The year 2016 has been dubbed "post-truth" by the Oxford English Dictionary, "an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’." Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Exhibit A) Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray.
The CNN produced documentary is slick, compelling, and far more revealing than its subject probably intended, but it is also very nearly fact free. Director Jenny Carchman wove together media footage and personal interviews without commentary. The lack of narration, which can be a very effective documentary style, meant, in this case, that one outrageous falsehood after another went unchecked. The passive narration was particularly troubling, given that the victims' families were completely excluded.

Jean Brown, sister of the late Kirby Brown, was quick to respond to James Ray's lies about her sister and her family, posting the above video the day the documentary aired. (see above) It is unfortunate that she was not given the opportunity to do so in the documentary itself. And it was not for lack of trying. As discussed here, both Jean and her mother Ginny took it upon themselves to contact the director, but Carchman evinced no interest.

Kirby Brown, James Shore, and Liz Neuman, were little more than footnotes in this story of their gruesome deaths. Make no mistake. This documentary is entirely about how their deaths affected the man who caused them.