Two must see Netflix documentaries

Abducted in Plain Sight directed by Skye Borgman
Rating *****

Let me warn you up front. This documentary is going to make you outraged. You will be outraged by the actions of the parents. You will be outraged by the way the perpetrator managed to continue his twisted actions with impunity.

Abducted in plain sight tells the story of a kidnapping. The perpetrator of the crime is a family friend. He is also a pedophile. The object of his obsession is Jan, the Broberg’s twelve-year-old daughter.

Bob Broberg and his wife Mary Ann meet Robert Berchtold through their church. Berchtold wastes little time weasling his way into the Broberg’s life, gaining their trust and the admiration of his target, Jan.

The fact that a twelve-year-year-old girl is kidnapped and sexually assaulted is disturbing by itself, but all that follows this deprived act is even more disturbing. Try not yelling at the screen when you see how the parents choose self-preservation over the safety of their child and other potential victims. I give them credit for coming forward and sharing their story. They freely admit their complicity, ignorance, and infidelities. But that doesn’t excuse their complete lack of common sense.

This story will make you reflect on more recent headlines involving sexual assault, infidelity, and abduction.

Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened Directed by Chris Smith
Rating *****

Ja Rule and Billy McFarland

A few years ago there was a story of a high school football player who staged a college signing. He had himself videotaped signing the document that would send him off to play football at a prestigious college football program. It was all a lie. He hadn’t been signed to any college. He had envisioned that moment so intently for so long that he couldn’t give up on the fantasy. So he created it. The man at the center of this story, Billy McFarland, is like that high school kid.

Billy McFarland fancied himself a successful startup genius. He was full of ideas. He managed to con investors into believing his pipe dreams. He surrounded himself with the trappings of success. When his first venture managed to have some level of success, he decided to start another company. The company he founded, Fyre, was set up as a way for the average consumer to book celebrities. You want Taylor Swift to play at your daughter’s birthday party, this app was your answer.

To build visibility for his new company, Billy decided to put on a music festival on a deserted island in the Bahamas. He shot a slick video using supermodels and then used social media to advertise the event. He enlisted the help of celebrities and other influencers to help spread the news. The video and the social media campaign was widly successful. But Billy and the team he assembled didn’t know anything about putting on a music festival.

As the scope of the undertaking begins to take shape, the lack of honesty and outright fraud escalates. Early on in the planning phase, a suggestion is made that might have allowed them to pull the whole thing off. Why not book a cruise ship? If you could find a way to shuttle the concert goers from the ship to the island, you could solve most of your infrastructure problems. Billy’s response was to fire the person who made the suggestion.

From that point on, Billy and his team of neophytes stumble from one miscalculation to the next. By the day of the festival, nothing is in place. Small dome tents sold as luxury villas are made mostly inhabitable after a heavy rainstorm. Angry festival attendees start voicing their frustration on social media. The festival collapses before it even begins. Everyone involved loses money: investors, festival attendees, workers, rental car agencies, employees. For Billy, it’s all about his image. He has zero empathy for the countless people he scams in his efforts to promote his self-interests.

The FBI gets involved. One of Billy’s partners is rapper Ja Rule. When the whole thing collapses, Ja Rule claims that there was no fraud. He admits only to false advertising. Sorry Ja Rule, fales advertising is fraud. Billy is eventually sentenced to prison.

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