The glorification of fanatics who attempted to hijack religion and Rock & Roll – and create a not-so-subtle hybrid of the two – thankfully, hasn’t gained much ground. That’s the good news. Sure, Guns N’ Roses thought it was funny to record a Charles Manson tune for their The Spaghetti Incident – the album itself with gravy as a bloody sight, perhaps their idea of toning down The Beatles “Butcher” cover, with both The Beach Boys and Marilyn Manson using elements of Charles Manson’s musical efforts (such as they were) for their own purposes…yet it was The Beach Boys who first worked with the psychopath before he and/or his followers went on their killing sprees.
Which brings us to David Koresh. These well-done documentaries sure are intriguing looks at major events culled from the news media, but at the end of the day the “media gone wild” aspect is what brought these individuals the attention they garnered, not talent. Both Koresh and Manson manipulated those around them and both of these so-called “leaders” were at the center of some catastrophe. So what does it say when sensationalism takes the place of talent? Is there any value in buying a CD from Charles Manson? Sure, if you are a masochist. These two untalented individuals, in particular, are the poster boys for individuals displaying a lack of creativity desperately yearning for public acceptance.
Where the “Final 24” episode on Janis Joplin contains valuable interviews with those who knew her (though still lacking in the exploration of the myriad conspiracy theories surrounding her death as well as the deaths of Canned Heat’s Al Wilson and Jimi Hendrix), this David Koresh package is called by its creators one of many “…psychological detective stories attempting to uncover the mystery of why the celebrity died.”
Celebrity? The dictionary defines the word as “a famous or celebrated person.”
Koresh and Manson were infamous. They offered nothing of substance, in this critic’s opinion, to society, they served their own self interests.
As a unique look at a particular historic event, this series works. If viewed as a celebration of notorious people…it’s downright ghoulish. Because the media has taken the mantra “if it bleeds, it leads” to new heights, the ultimate goal here seems to be to get ratings, not generate important historical documentation. That being said, if one ignores the heavy-handed presentation, the non-musical or non-artistic episodes still have some valid information. The Joplin DVD is a welcome addition to the Janis Joplin catalog, this David Koresh documentary, better suited for TV.
By TMRZoo Chief Film Critic