Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Review: Fantastic Lies

I got around to watching ESPN’s Fantastic Lies last night.  It is part of their 30 for 30 series of documentaries.  This episode follows the Duke Lacrosse case of 2006.

I highly recommend this documentary (which will probably be on Netflix soon).  I did not expect to watch the whole thing last night as I do not have much of an attention span.  But I could not stop watching it, it was so engaging.

I am more familiar with the Duke Lacrosse case than most and posted on it here several times beginning in October 2006.  And I think the documentary was overall fair and accurate along with being very watchable.  It particularly well captured the attitudes surrounding the case and the details of the case, and that in an appropriately dramatic manner.

I do think it is weak in one significant area.  Although Fantastic Lies does mention Duke faculty presuming and attacking the supposed guilt of the Duke Lacrosse players, it did not mention the Group of 88 by name (unless I missed something, and I am pretty sure I did not).  Their conduct was particularly egregious, and very few ever apologized for it.  Further, the careers of the 88 did not suffer at all for this.  (If there is an exception, it has not come to my attention.)  Even a (the?) ringleader, Cathy Davidson, has gone on to bigger and better things, including an appointment by President Obama to the National Council of the Humanities.

Fantastic Lies does focus well on characters who had remorse and/or faced consequences, particularly District Attorney Nifong, since disbarred.  There should have been more focus on those who showed no remorse nor faced consequences for their rush to judgement.

But there is no perfect documentary, and Fantastic Lies remains a very good one.  Watch it when you have the chance.

Once you do watch it, if you wish to dig deeper, there is no better source than the now closed Durham-in-Wonderland blog.

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