Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Friday, April 15, 2016

En-blight-en Us: Death Ray stars in Tribeca schlockumentary




While we view James Ray’s new life, he teaches that death is tangential. “We are all in the process of dying.” In that sweat lodge, at the end of the “ceremony,” participants had to crawl over the bodies of Kirby Brown, James Shore, and Liz Neuman. This film invites us to do the same...

...When asked at the end of the film how and why Sedona happened, Ray declares, “Sedona had to happen. It was the only way I could experience and learn… A test of character. I think I did ok.” Unfortunately, the people who were injured and traumatized, and especially those who died, are not so “ok."

Once again, Mr. Ray gets it wrong. Sedona did not have to happen. But his actions and inactions made these deaths inevitable. That Ray so easily walks over these deaths as a mere footnote in his “savior” story is evidence of his failure to understand his crime.

~ Virginia Brown
Mother of Kirby Brown, one of three people killed by James Arthur Ray's recklessness in October 2009
Founder of
SEEK Safely, Inc.



Tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival, a documentary called Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray, will premiere, and if I'm reading my pal Salty Droid's latest offering correctly, he will be attending in person and may even try to chat with the star of the show, Death Ray himself.

Salty screen-capped the last frame of the film, which bears the caption, "Nine months later, James was the keynote speaker at a personal development convention." Says Salty:

… victory :: it’s a happy ending for DeathRay. The comeback he desperately desires … but definitely doesn’t deserve.
What kind of “personal development conference” would have a triple homicide felon like James Ray as their keynote speaker? The kind that has nothing to do with “personal development” … and previously had NotDoctor Leonard Coldwell on retainer as its full time keynote speaker.
Yep, that would be the November 2015 Global Information Network (GIN) Family Ruin Reunion, as mentioned on this Whirled a while back. GIN of course is the scammy brainchild of now-imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau.

Under the Twitter handle James Ray's Shame (@RayShouldPay), Salty said he'll be live-blogging the "propaganda movie premiere" and will tell us more next week.

Meanwhile, take a look at this message from Ginny Brown, Kirby Brown's mom and founder of the nonprofit SEEK Safely, Inc. I'm appalled that SEEK was not invited to comment during the making of the film.


More soon.

PS added on April 16 ~ Early report from Jason is that he wanted to hate the film... but didn't. I'll link to his report as soon as it's up. 
 
PPS April 19 ~ The preliminary Salty Droid write-up on Enlighten Us is here, with a more extended review to come. For now...


Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray :: was made by CNNfilms … even though CNN itself played a role in both the rise and fall of James Arthur Ray.
The film conspicuously refused to include voices of dissent. James Ray :: and parties associated with James Ray … are allowed to make all their worst points. But the victim’s families :: and the wider context … are silenced.

And here's
the write-up in The Verge, also linked to in the April 18 Salty post. Though the writer, Matt Stroud, quoted Jason and included a couple of Salty links, I still think he gave short shrift to Jason's long-time coverage of this story.

As for the film itself, I haven't seen it and it's possible that it has some merit, if only for the fact that it showcases Ray's sociopathy (as evidenced by his lack of contriteness about the deaths). And Stroud also stresses, in his write-up, that Ray doesn't seem contrite at all. The fact remains that Kirby Brown's family have said -- through publicly issued statements as well as telling it to Matt Stroud -- that they wanted to participate in the film. Kirby's sister Jean told me that they were brushed off and placated by the film makers, effectively barred from attending the premiere, and even lied to about Ray's attendance at the premiere.

Stroud says that director Jenny Carchman explains the elimination of the victims' families from the film as "a purely narrative decision." To me that seems like a deeply flawed narrative, and Stroud would seem to agree. Apparently, though, Ray himself didn't have many problems with the narrative, at least not so much that he couldn't bring himself to pose at Tribeca with Ms. Carchman.


I'm still looking forward to reading the Salty Droid's take on it. And eventually when the film becomes available for home viewing, I'm going to watch it too.


April 29 ~ Enough with the postscripts. Here's an update.
While Salty Droid hasn't yet followed up with his full write-up of Enlighten Us (though he has been busily blogging, so don't neglect to pay him a visit), other bloggers have been on the job: most notably, the admirable LaVaughn at Celestial Reflections, who so doggedly covered Ray's trial a few years ago, and the equally admirable Yakaru at Spirituality is No Excuse, my fluent-in-German buddy who has been so helpful in my coverage of a certain Teutonic twerp.

Here's LaVaughn's post, which includes an embedded video of the snippet from Enlighten Us, in which Death Ray demonstrates some of his not-so-subliminal manipulation strategies. LaVaughn writes:

A magician never reveals his secrets... unless he's a down on his luck, ex-con, trying to mount a comeback, and you stick a camera in his face.

Sometimes I miss New York. This is one of those times, because this week's debut of
Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray at the
Tribeca Film Festival is an event I'm actually sorry to miss, if only for stunning reveals like the above. You want to see how I played my followers like fiddles? Watch my hands, as I subliminally conduct your thoughts and feelings. See? ACTING!!!

Indeed. Like many others, LaVaughn isn't exactly shocked at "the total lack of journalistic scrutiny" of Ray in the film, since, after all, it was produced by CNN Films. And CNN has, as LaVaughn points out, a history of enabling Ray, dating from the heyday of The Secret. Post-Secret, apart from CNN's negligent coverage of the criminal trial, there was that pandering interview with Piers Morgan shortly after Ray was released following his much-too-short prison sentence. So it isn't all that surprising that the families of the people Ray killed, most notably Ginny Brown, had no part in the film. As LaVaughn says:

I suspect that, much as he did with [the Piers Morgan] interview, Ray made his appearance in this documentary contingent upon Ginny Brown and his other critics being excluded. So, once again, the person who throws the biggest temper tantrum wins. I'll know better when I see it, but I suspect gaining that much free rein to run his suck on film is a mixed blessing for Ray, because he seems to have lost any ability to not reveal himself.
Yakaru participated in the comments section to LaVaughn's post, which is how I discovered his very thorough three-parter, posted on April 23-24. Though he addressed Enlighten Us, much of his content was devoted to a nearly line-by-line deconstruction of a pretty awful Daily Beast piece by one Lizzie Crocker.

Part 1 covers some of the major blunders in Ms. Crocker's fluff piece, calling her out for lazy journalism.

Part 2 mostly covers Ray's lies -- including some apparently new lies -- about the tragic death of Colleen Conaway at a San Diego Death Ray event in July 2009 (a few months before the Sedona heat tent deaths). Lizzie Crocker didn't bother to talk to Colleen's family.

Part 3 continues and concludes the deconstruction of Ms. Crocker's grossly negligent article, which Yakaru describes as "stenography." At this point in Ms. Crocker's article it seems that Ray is blaming a doctor (who in fact was one of the paying participants in the heat tent) for the deaths of Kirby Brown, James Shore and Liz Neuman.

By this point in his own narrative it is clear that Yakaru is beyond exasperated:

I really don’t expect journalists to understand complicated details of difficult court cases. But I do expect them to exercise caution when interviewing convicted criminals about the crimes they committed. This is especially important in Ray’s case, as it was the media who gave him a platform for softball, self promotional interviews. Four deaths later, and they are still queuing up for round five. Three homicide convictions hasn’t convinced any of them that maybe they should be a little more careful before jumping into bed with him.
And as he wrote in Part 2:
Anyone who was wondering how Ray got so much authority and could fool so many smart and decent people and lead them to their deaths, well this is exactly how it happens — built up by credulous, lazy, self interested journalists who lack even the simplest concept of ethics, don’t know how to fact-check, can’t tell when they are being lied to and don’t care to correct it when it is pointed out to them.
Yep.

Anyway. Well done, LaVaughn and Yakaru.


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