By Asjad Khan, Toronto:
Deanna Thompson (aka Baudi Moovan) is the narrator of the documentary Don’t F**k with Cats. In the last scene, she stares dead at the camera and shoots this rather critical question towards the viewers, “are you complicit?”
This is a real-life story of how a killer (who shall remain nameless in this blog) gains international fame and the role of a group of internet-obsessed amateur detectives in his arrest. It is captivating certainly. Director Mark Lewis has chosen a unique vantage point. This isn’t about the killer. It isn’t about law enforcement authorities and their search. Rather the story is mostly told from the point of view of internet sleuths.
Based on the reputation the show had gained fairly quickly, I googled to see if there were any gory scenes in the documentary. A Reddit thread explained what to expect in detail. It encouraged me to start the series despite being ultra-skirmish about the on-screen portrayal of violence. The method to depict such scenes was through narration and emotion. The makers had enough shock value in the story itself anyway.
The fast-paced nature of events, the haunting background score and effective editing doesn’t let you couldn’t look away even for a moment. But the filmmakers did leave out vital details which come out during the court trial about the boy’s troubled past. There are no attempts to provide any sort of justification of his actions. Reasons are presented. Hunger for fame, the influence of movies are the main themes. But the real gimmick from the makers is to put us in the shoes of these activists. You feel their anger, their insecurity as they are threatened personally. A personal connection is made and speeds up your moral urge to see justice.
But the whole premise of the show is flipped somewhere in the 3rd episode. Internet’s true potential is yet to be explored (other than by political actors, I suppose). It is a fascinating world, where people with no experience about a subject become experts or at least pretend to be one. It reduces barriers to entries without actually preparing people for the consequences they may face.
Baudi Moovan and his group face a similar situation. The killer craves notoriety. The group feeds them that very thing. It becomes a cyclical game. It is unclear who is chasing whom. Perhaps it would be unreasonable to place the entire blame on this group. The boy might have found other people or ways to garner attention. Yet there is doubt. What would have happened had the group ignored that brutal act of kitten killing? Would Jun Lin still be alive? The truth is we don’t know.
When I started writing this, it did include the killer’s name. But then I asked myself, am I being complicit?
Asjad Khan is a freelance writer who independently writes sports and entertainment stories for multiple publications. He is a sucker for a good life narrative in these somewhat fictitious worlds. Like most writers today, he is battling to maintain sanctity of the written word.
Participants (Narrators): Deanna Thompson & John Green;
Director: Mark Lewis; Production Company: RAW TV