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, December 02, 2016

En-blight-en us more: Death Ray documentary to premiere on CNN

This past April I mentioned a documentary on the rise and fall and attempted rise again of convicted killer James Arthur "Death" Ray: Enlighten Us, in advance of the film's premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Mostly I wrote about Salty Droid, aka jason Jones, writing about it, since he actually attended the premiere.

Now the work is finally coming to a wider audience; it is currently scheduled to premiere
on CNN on Saturday, December 3, 2016 (that's tomorrow, as I write this) at 8 PM ET. There will be several encores later in the month; they're listed in the link above. No doubt it will be available for even wider viewing in due time via Internet outlets, Blu-Ray/DVD and the like. I'll wait.

Not surprisingly Salty weighed in again, ahead of the CNN premiere; he never did publish his full review of the documentary on his blog, but
on today's post he did include snippets from one of his efforts. He describes meeting Ginny Brown, mother of one of Ray's victims, Kirby Brown. It was an emotional experience, to say the least.
This thing, The Salty Droid, is all about computer screens. I observe and capture the world as seen on my screens, and then I interact with that world via a half-crazed half-fictional character. The layers of abstraction help to keep my brain safe while I’m inhabiting one dark mire after the next; I try to crossover as rarely as possible. This is the first article I’ve ever published as myself.

Ginny and George are out trying to raise awareness for SEEK Safely
the Browns' nonprofit that attempts to bring responsibility and accountability into the self-help industry]. They feel like they’ve been completely shutout by the film makers. They’ve not been represented on camera, and their input has not been sought off camera. They haven’t even been invited to attend the premiere. They are visibly upset, and that makes me upset.
Jason noted that Ray was not in the theater where Enlighten Us was screening." Too bad :: because he missed the audience’s overwhelmingly negative reaction to him :: which manifested via audible groans :: and again during the Q&A with director Jenny Carchman."

Despite the seemingly uncritical lens through which the film presented Ray, Jason wrote that he "still comes off as a horrible disgusting monster." Not to mention a hypocritical one:

Ray tells the film maker’s camera …
I came out of prison in debt. My credit is crap. I’ve got nothing tucked away.
Juxtapose Ray telling a marketer’s camera …
I’d like to begin a conversation with you here today… it’s about the topic of wealth, abundance, and prosperity.
Scamworld in a James Arthur Ray nutshell.
Yep. It's all about Ray "pitching himself as a specialist in comebacks … while perpetually waiting for his own comeback to come." Salty also took some potshots at CNN for providing such a golden platform for Ray for years, and he got some shots in at Ray's "old-as-dirt mentor-in-scam Bob Proctor" (who has also been a frequent guest on my Whirled, particularly back in the heyday of The Secret).

Salty/Jason wasn't the only one of my pals to write about Ray in the wake of the CNN premiere buzz. Steve Salerno of SHAMblog had
an excellent piece on Slate yesterday. And he published some "outtakes" on SHAMblog yesterday as well.

Apart from the fact that Death Ray is trying, mostly in vain, to regain his superstar status in the selfish-help industry,
he is also trying to get his criminal convictions set aside so he can have all of his civil rights restored. If the motion were to be granted he would regain voting rights, and international travel would become less of a hassle.

Back in 2013, following his release from prison in Arizona, Ray had toyed with getting the convictions overturned,
but in September of that year he moved to drop the appeal. In an affidavit he wrote, "I wish to ensure the prompt, complete and definitive termination of these criminal proceedings by dismissing this appeal and allowing the conviction and sentence to stand undisturbed." Apparently he didn't want to risk re-trial and possible re-sentencing. He insisted, however, that the convictions were flawed.

And now he's trying to push that narrative through the courts.
As Steve Salerno wrote in the Slate piece linked to above:
In both the film and in life, Ray is poorly cast as the martyr of self-help culture. He’s far from it: Ginny Brown, mother of 38-year-old victim Kirby Brown, recalls that when Ray finally reached out to her after her daughter’s death, a full five days later, he kept saying over and over, that he “couldn’t believe this had happened ... to him.” Seven years later, Ray does not seem to have changed—indeed, he is currently petitioning to have his conviction set aside. The state of Arizona is countering the motion vigorously, as are families of those killed.

Legal maneuvers like the one Ray is attempting rarely succeed in homicide cases. But the hubris of even trying reaffirms that far from offering a story of redemption, Ray remains the epitomic reminder that self-help culture may be less about bettering the self than about creating alternative realities in which your unimproved self is just fine.

Couldn't have said it better myself. (And as I've written about numerous times on this blog, the selfish-help culture is full of false heroes and martyrs, imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau being one of them.)

Here is a link to Ray's October 2016 motion and to the State's response, requesting denial of the motion. If you aren't familiar with the events leading up to his conviction, or just want to refresh your memory, you can get a reasonably good overview by reading the response.

Ray may never get his luster restored, either legally or in the minds of a the public. But the very fact that he is still trying so desperately to do so says a lot about his character, or complete lack thereof.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Connie, I've followed your comments on this event for quite some time. I thought I knew what he had done. Then I read the opposition to his motion, which you link to in this post. It isn't anybody's opinion, it is a summation of the reporter's transcript from the trial. Now I am beyond shocked and appalled and I fully understand the astonishment of so many at the relatively short length of his sentence. Absolutely unbelievable.

Friday, December 02, 2016 8:19:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you, Anon, I really appreciate the feedback. Those of us who have been following this story for years have been aware of most of these details, but -- and I can only speak for myself, but I suspect others feel the same way -- even though I knew the details about Ray's atrocities, rereading them still has an impact. It makes me angry all over again.

It is my hope that by sharing this document I can open more people's eyes to the many reasons that the loved ones of James Ray's victims -- as well as many of those who have been injured and traumatized in various ways by him -- cannot "just move on." In a subsequent blog post I will also share a video that Jean Brown Allison, Kirby Brown's sister, made to address Ray directly regarding his egregious and hurtful lies.

Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:39:00 PM  

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