Netflix & History Lessons

Description: An article I wrote for my mass media and society class. The assignment intended for us to write about podcasts we listened to each week about trends in media.

Date: May 2018


On the Media, a podcast supported by WNYC Studios and hosted by Bob Garfield, recently aired the podcast An Extended Trip Through Wild Wild Country. 

Garfield focuses the podcast on a Netflix documentary, Wild Wild Country, directed by Chapman and Mclain Way.

The documentary is about an Indian Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh who blended western capitalism with eastern mysticism on a 64,000 acre utopia in central oregan in the 1980’s.

There was a massive conflict between Bhagwan and his followers and local ranchers and the Way brothers focused their documentary on what happened in the first bioterror attack in US history.

In terms of media the documentary uses Netflix and film to tell the story in an objective way. Despite what the story is actually about I loved how the brothers chose a conflict in US history which I had never heard about, and made it known.

They gave the Rajneeshees and the Antelopians both a voice in the story and tried not to identify heroes and villians which I really like because it’s such a controversial event and hearing both sides encourages understanding.

I think this is a relly great use of media. The reach the documentary can reach through Netflix is incredible and it turned out to be incredibly popular. It premiered at the Sundance festival this year and recieved great publicity.

What an incredible way to teach history and what an incredible way to give two groups of people a voice.

Even though the conclusion of the event was jail time and exportation of the Rajneeshees, the Way brothers demonstrated a capacity to understand both the Rajneeshees and the Antelopians.

The use of media to analyze the actions of individuals and allow people to come to their own conclusions was brilliant.

As a final note, not only was the documentary a use of media, but the event itself was a use of media. Mass media was used by the Rajneeshees! And it was used by the government to garner support.

This episode and event are both examples of how we can use media to manipulate, to persuade, and to build mutual understanding.