Everyone’s favourite documentary-maker Louis Theroux is back and – as you’d expect – his latest show pulls no punches as it examines the impact of social media and the internet on modern American society. Forbidden America was sparked by Theroux’s interest in the ‘Trump phenomenon’, and the people on the edge of the movement using social media to not only support Trump, but spread their extremist views.
The first episode, which airs on BBC2 this Sunday evening (February 13th), is titled Extreme And Online and sees Theroux come face to face with a number of far-right US internet personalities, including Nicholas Fuentes – a commentator who uses his platform to spread a series of white nationalist, antisemitic and misogynist views, and is considered too extreme for even the right-wing of the Republican party.
‘The side effects of social media and the internet in general is that everyone’s more visible,’ says Theroux. The line between the private and the public has been erased, to a great extent.
‘And in this case, it means that the people in my documentaries can see everything that I’ve posted on social media, and I can see everything that they post, and that’s ongoing. So, while I’m filming with them, very often they’re filming me; they’re posting and writing about me.’
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The three-part series sees Theroux travel the ‘length and breadth’ of America, speaking to some of the most controversial and active online content creators, from far-right streamers; rap stars who share their chaotic and sometimes violent lives with thousands of online fans; and porn performers who earn a living via online subscription services using their new power to call out the behaviours of alleged industry predators.
Theroux’s most recent projects have been UK based, but the documentarian said the ‘Trump phenomenon’ as well as a slight nostalgia for his early documentarian efforts, drew him back stateside for this one.
‘I started out making programmes in America and made my name there in some respects with Weird Weekends, and there’s something about the stories there that have this sort of outlandishness – a sort of eccentricity and vibrant colour – while also containing a lot of troubling and toxic themes that felt very different to what I’d been doing,’ he says.’
‘So I thought, let’s go back to America and do one of those sort of slightly weird American cultural stories.’
Forbidden America airs on Sunday 13th February at 9pm on BBC Two and iPlayer