TV critic Madeline McInnis gives her views on the Netflix documentary series as rapper Snoop Dogg coaches an American Football team for youths from disadvantaged backgroundsWritten by mmcinnis on 11th February 2018
The World of Dirty Money
TV's Madeline McInnis criticises the bias and bad-taste of the first episode of Dirty Money, Netflix's controversial new documentary series about big business conspiracies
Everyone wants a good conspiracy theory, and it is even better when those theories turn out to be true. Dirty Money, a new Netflix original documentary series, launched on 26 January. It has six episodes, all approximately an hour in length, and all focusing on different high profile business scandals. Netflix was surprisingly tight-lipped about the themes of the episodes until the premiere, and when I saw the episode titles, I understood why. In order of episodes, the series focuses on the Volkswagen clean diesel scandal, the downfall of Scott Tucker, the pharmaceutical company Valeant hiking drug prices, HSBC and its ties to the Mexican drug cartels, a Canadian maple syrup heist, and an investigation into the business deals of Donald Trump.
It seemed promising, and I could not wait for that last, juicy episode — and that is probably what Netflix was counting on. I had high expectations, and, unfortunately, they were not met. Within the first 10 minutes of ‘Hard NOx’, the Volkswagen episode, the aim of the show became quite clear: this is a show to infuriate, not to educate. The filmmakers juxtapose shots of an average American family trading in their Volkswagen Jetta, due to the emissions scandals, with shots of Adolf Hitler commissioning the first Volkswagen factory. They even admit that the mention of Hitler is controversial, but he is connected to Volkswagen so he is worth mentioning.
“There is no connection between Hitler and the scandal, and it seems like a really cheap way just to get people angry
Now, I do not get to say what is or is not offensive to the families and memories of the millions of people that died as a result of these catastrophes and I have no personal connection to the Holocaust. But as a student of history, it makes me incredibly angry that this comparison is being made without looking into the implications of that metaphor or the complexities of the events behind it. I finished the last ten minutes of the episode, but stopped watching after this point. It was such an obvious blow just for the sake of making people infuriated. They made me angry all right, but not at Volkswagen.
“They are not trusting their viewers to think critically or come to conclusions based on the facts
The first episode did not say anything new or tell me anything I did not know from the news coverage. Their thesis was weak and overdone. We know that capitalism and the search for money makes people do illegal and stupid things. There could have been a new angle on this story, and I promise that Hitler was not it.