Candace Owens, host of Convicting a Murderer Photo: David Levenson
America's culture wars are here for your binge-watching of true crime. In a system where the choice of coffee, hat or music is also a political statement, Netflix is now in the line of fire. At least that's how viewers in other parts of the world might come to believe that they survived the first two episodes of Convicting a Murderer. Here's a forensic and incredibly tedious dissection of the 2015 Netflix crime sensation Making a Murderer, hosted by conservative commentator and Kanye West's best friend Candace Owens and airing on the right-wing network Daily Wire.
Who cares about Making a Murderer in 2023? Owens does. She strongly believes—some would say too strongly—that the original documentary misrepresented the truth about Steven Avery. He is a Wisconsin man wrongly convicted of sexual assault and released after 18 years – only to later be jailed for the separate 2005 murder of photographer Teresa Halbach and sentenced to life in prison (his nephew Brendan Dassey was found guilty jointly served a life sentence with him). offer).
Making a Murderer portrayed the case as a miscarriage of justice. Questions have been raised about whether local police stitched up Avery after he filed a lawsuit over a previous conviction. Convicting a Murderer presents the Netflix series as the personal crusade of Making a Murderer co-director Laura Ricciardi. “It all started with one woman's ambition,” Owens says in the first episode (the first two parts are free to watch; the rest appear weekly on the Daily Wire website). “It also started with her emotions.”
Owens is a fascinating figure, a celebrity that could only be minted in America. She first gained widespread attention in 2022 when she posed with Kanye West at Paris Fashion Week wearing a T-shirt that read “White Lives Matter.” Although she is African American, she described the left's “obsession with identity politics” as a “destructive force in our society.” She advocated for “Blexit”: the withdrawal of African Americans from the Democratic Party.
She communicates with her 4.6 million followers through Instagram and through a talk show she hosts for the Daily Wire. In both cases, Owens is impressive and doesn't take criticism lightly. When Vanity Fair profiled her earlier this year, the publication could not find anyone willing to discuss her views on the record.
And she certainly has her views. She refused to vaccinate her children, calling the “forcing” of vaccines on children “evil and sinister.” She condemned the Black Lives Matter movement. Last year he directed the film The Greatest Lie Ever Sold: George Floyd and the Rise of BLM. And when her friend West was accused of posting anti-Semitic tweets, she was one of the few to speak out on the rapper's behalf.
“If you're an honest person, you didn't think that tweet was anti-Semitic,” she wrote. . “You didn’t think he wrote that tweet because he hates or wants genocide of the Jewish people. This is not the beginning of the Holocaust.”
Owens feels – perhaps rightly – that she is attracting attention because white liberals in the US cannot stomach the idea of a conservative black woman. “I’m not taking it sitting down, and there’s a reason for that,” she told Vanity Fair. “I should be a hero, but they hate me because they only see black heroes through the lens of victimhood.”
Steven Avery, “Star” of “Making a Murderer” Credit: Netflix
She brings the same toughness to Convicted of Murder, although you have to wonder why anyone would feel so strongly about a largely forgotten crime series. The original Making a Murderer can be seen today as a curiosity from the early days of binge-watching television. This is definitely no one's idea of a fun rewatch. Remember those endless hours of court records and police interviews and the inflated 20 hour duration? And for what purpose? Avery, 60, remains behind bars. In June 2022, he was transferred to a maximum security prison in Wisconsin. Several appeals were filed against his conviction, but none were successful.
The Daily Wire was founded by right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro (you may have read his recent Barbie diatribe) and film director Jeremy Boring in 2015. The newspaper, headquartered in Nashville, bills itself as a haven for the “cancelled.” Just ask controversial Star Wars actress Gina Carano, who reportedly split with Disney over her right-wing views. She quickly found a new home with the Daily Wire, which published her western, Prairie Horror. Last November, the service announced that the number of subscribers had exceeded one million.
Fans and detractors of Making a Murderer will agree that the power of Netflix has had a huge impact on documentary filmmaking. Following this, streamers tried to turn tragic stories into a commodity. They have typically built hype around already well-documented cases, the most famous example being that of Madeleine McCann, whose kidnapping was retold in the Netflix series The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The eight-part 2019 documentary debunks all the wild conspiracy theories surrounding McCann. He then added further additions through a report on tourism development in the Algarve, from where McCann disappeared.
Brendan Dassey in 2007. Photo: AP
The idea that true crime, if taken too far, is toxic and exploitative is undeniable. This is precisely the argument made by Charlie Brooker in the Black Mirror episode “Loch Henry”. However, Convicting a Murderer is not interested in a stream of cynical and trashy documents. He wants it to be a laser-focused dissection of Making a Murderer, based on the belief that Netflix twisted the facts to fit its agenda.
Without a forensic analysis of the case, it's hard to say whether any of the arguments are true . Still, Owens is a compelling defender. She claims Netflix downplayed Avery's cruelty to animals to make him look like an innocent man. “One night, Steven Avery and a bunch of his buddies… threw a cat into the fire,” she says. “Creating a killer allows Steven Avery to explain it himself.”
In her quest to debunk Making a Murderer, she is joined by Brenda Schuler, a keen researcher of the case who also serves as the show's producer. Together, they track down Avery's younger brother, Earl, who claims that Avery, while in prison on his original conviction, forced his sibling to have sex with Avery's wife, Lori.
It's a grim and unpleasant sight. – less viewing, more seventies Wes Craven horror (if you liked The Hills Have Eyes or Deliverance, you'll like them). However, if Making a Murderer can be accused of misrepresentation, the same charge could certainly be leveled against Owens.
As with the Netflix original, its worst flaw is ultimately its seismic dullness. In the United States, Owens' involvement in the project would force audiences to immediately take sides. But deep down, die-hard Trump voters and avowed liberals can secretly agree that it's incredibly boring.