In a few months, my exchange year at Georgia State will be over, and I’ll be going back home, to finish my degree at Northumbria University. It’s a sad prospect. I’m going to miss my friends, a weather system that isn’t just perpetual rain, and the flattering attention I receive just through having a British accent, (no, honestly, I’m going to have to speak in a Georgian accent when I go home, just to maintain my ego). But, it’s gotten me thinking about what I want all my American acquaintances to remember me by. It’d be nice if it were for my dazzling wit, charm, smile, and avocation of a socialized health care system, however, if it can’t be any of those, I’d like to propose a fourth option: Louis Theroux.
For those of you who're unfortunate enough to have not been blessed with the work of the human-god that is Louis Theroux, he's a British documentary maker, he's be-speckled, he's confused, he's perpetually innocent, and he's more than this world deserves. For further illumination, see below.
1. In America’s Most Hated Family (2007)
This was the first Louis Theroux documentary I watched – nay, became enlightened by – Louis spends time with the Phelps family, who form Westboro Baptist Church, based in Kansas, and made famous by their picketing of soldiers’ funerals with hateful, homophobic ‘God Hates F*gs’ signs. The documentary allows him to showcase his unique interviewing style, which is his words is ‘give your subjects enough rope to hang themselves with’. Essentially, he lets the congregation babble on for the most part, exposing their own idiosyncrasy as they do so. At various points through the film, however, he seems to struggle with containing his true feelings on the church, and this comes to a head in what is honestly an iconic exchange with church member Steve Drain, over the WBC’s picketing of the local Jewish community.
2. Louis returned to the Phelps
In 2011, however, Louis returned to the Phelps, and honestly he seems to just want to be there to watch them fall apart. Iconic moments in this documentary are plentiful, and include Louis holding a Phelps sign that says ‘Louis in hell’ with his own angelic face pasted onto it, but again, it’s his no-chill response to Steve Drain that should be enough for you to watch the second installment.
3. Weird Weekends
From 1998-2000 Louis’ television show, Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends saw him film with a different social group each episode. In one of these, ‘Gangster Rap’, Louis aims to become the ‘first, white, middle class gangster rapper’ in New Orleans, and creates his own rap with the help of Mello T. It sounds exactly how you would imagine. Care for a listen?
4.Louis Theroux and the Nazis (2003)
In Louis Theroux and the Nazis (2003), Louis spends time with self-confessed neo-Nazis in America, specifically the dubbed ‘most dangerous racist in America’, Tom Metzger. Highlights of the episode include Louis asking Metzger if he ‘genuinely believes he is better looking than Denzel Washington’ because it ‘seems ludicrous’, but also this astute observation made by Louis when he follows Metzger to a karaoke bar.
5. My Scientology Movie (2017)
In Louis’ latest work, My Scientology Movie (2017), his response to being told to ‘go fuck himself’ is honestly a blessing on the world.
6. Drinking to Oblivion (2016)
But Louis isn’t all about spitting fire at Neo-Nazis and homophobic bigots, the thing that really makes him the perfect future husband, (sorry current wife of Louis, but it is going to happen), is that he genuinely is a caring, compassionate human. In his documentary on alcoholism, Drinking to Oblivion (2016), he tries to convince one of the subjects of the film, Auralie, that she deserves better than her current, clearly emotionally-abusive partner.