I was contacted in the beginning of July last year by a producer working for an Academy Award winning production company based out of NYC. The producer got in touch based on my YouTube channel and on their experience of my being a person of candor. Later I would find out this person had a parent who had been a trauma therapist for many years. I found the producer to be engaging and kind. They asked me questions about my experience with Freedomainradio:
-How did you first discover FDR?
–Can you tell me about where you were in your life when you found FDR?
-What was it about Stefan Molyneux’s ideas that touched you?
-How has your participation in FDR shaped the person you are today?
After a pair of phone calls where the producer asked me general questions about my life, my ideas on psychology and self-knowledge, and my experience of having been a Freedomainradio listener, it was agreed that a documentary team would fly out to my then-home in Beaverton, Oregon. My impression from the producer was that the final product they were shooting for would be a “balanced look” at Freedomainradio unlike media pieces done on it in the past. This is nearly verbatim what the person said to me in the phone call. I figured the final product would slant slightly negative on FDR but that my contributions would shine a light on breaking from one’s family of origin. I was told my segment would be 5 minutes of the 30 minutes allotted for the show. An assurance was made to me that some of my views on healing from childhood trauma would be included. It’s worth noting that I told the producer that I had no quarrel with Freedomainradio or its listeners.
I had no idea the documentary would be on Showtime but I did know it would be on a major cable network. I was really excited to be around a professional film crew and learn all about an industry I’ve had so little experience with. There was also some talk about going to a mountain river and getting shots of me jumping off a cliff into a swimming hole.
The documentary team flew in to Oregon in the middle of July and spent the large part of two business days filming me at my home and at nearby Forest Park. They set up a bunch of very expensive camera equipment and were clearly very competent at their craft. The interview was a lot of fun! It was essentially like answering the “Who will build the roads?” question for psychology, self-knowledge, and philosophy from a very curious and intelligent person. My interviewer had clearly done their research and beneath their professional demeanor I sensed a genuine desire for some measure of truth. I talked about the rational basis for a person to leave their family of origin, how old-time Statist media gatekeepers are beginning to be blown out in this Internet age, and what benefits I got out of Freedomainradio. The interviewer was very respectful of a couple no-fly zones I named beforehand (stuff I’m not currently processed on). I had the thought, “Good boundaries!” The interview was 3.5 hours long. The last 90 minutes of it seemed to become a fun game of “Who can stump Steve?” with questions from some of the crew being funneled in through the interviewer. Thinking back on it, they were clearly asking me questions for their own personal clarity and probably most of it wouldn’t make it into the final cut. I was aware not to answer as a person providing therapy but as a person who takes an interest in philosophy, etc.
During the breaks I watched the crew do their thing and learned a lot about how high level documentary teams work. The people were very nice to me and I learned all about their filming experiences in far-flung places. There was some talk about some of my ideas on parenting and self-therapy here and there. They bought me lunch on each day and offered to get me Starbucks (I declined).
There were only a few questions (out of like a hundred) that were a bit “fish for the dirt on Molyneux/FDR” to me. I remember being asked:
-How much money have you donated to Freedomainradio over the years? (I said “I don’t remember but thinking about it, I’d like to give some more”; I have since donated more.)
-What is Stefan Molyneux like as a father and as a person? (I responded, “I have never had a personal relationship with him nor met him in person so I don’t know.”)
After the interview I remember being surprised and thinking to myself that there really wasn’t much of a “gossip” component to the interview at all.
The rest of the filming was a lot of fun. They had me bang on my drums for a bit and make one of my YouTube videos, filming me in the process.
The last shots filmed were of me walking in Forest Park in the bloom of summer. It’s the opening scene in my segment.
Between filming and the actual airing of the Dark Net episode there wasn’t much happening. I did get a nice card from the producer saying that after our filming, the crew couldn’t stop talking about my ideas. I felt good about that.
The promos for the show came out and it was clear this was going to be a “cautionary” style show about the “dark side” of the Internet. Eventually it came out that the episode I’d be in would be titled “Trapped”. I wrote and expressed my displeasure to the producer, whose production company is wholly separate from Showtime. From the exchange I came away with the impression that the production crew had a particular perspective on the Freedomainradio-related portion of the episode and that the Showtime writers had a different perspective. Showtime writers named the episode “Trapped”. I suspect those 5 minutes I was likely to get were cut down to 2 minutes because of Showtime. I think I understand. Alice Miller-flavored thoughts on childhood trauma and the plight of children from a young guy who’s wholly sober don’t exactly “bring in the ratings”. Gossip and dysfunction are the names of the game for these big-time TV networks.
I’m disappointed but not too surprised that the final product came out the way it did. I thought the fellow using drone technology and the Internet to have some semblance of engagement with society was interesting. I thought the segment on the woman with electromagnetic hypersensitivity was sad and misguided. I thought the piece on the woman who returned to her family was also very sad and confused. I thought my bit was pretty solid and I was able to convey a lot of truth in just a short bit of time. I wish they’d given me more air time!
I don’t so much see the Freedomainradio component of the episode as a hit piece, though it is in some respects, as much as I see it as woefully behind the times and a little cringe. I happen to think the family is the world’s foremost cult, with children as slaves to their parents’ dysfunction. I made that much clear during the interview. However, I do not think the family must be destroyed. It must be restructured to solely serve the learning and growth of children.
For those who care: where I stand is that I do not think Freedomainradio is a cult. I made that much clear to the producer before the documentary crew came out to my home. I do think that Stefan Molyneux made mistakes with some of the people he allowed into his home early on and has since learned from those mistakes. I myself made similar mistakes and have done my own part to learn and become better. I know some of the people who went to those first FDR BBQ’s and I think they’re high quality people. I have never made contact of any kind with anyone who has come out saying that Freedomainradio is a cult or some variant thereof.
I do listen to Freedomainradio a few times a month and donate accordingly. I find some of the race, IQ, and immigration shows interesting these days. I’m also having a blast seeing Donald Trump demolish the liberal media and the Republican establishment; Stefan Molyneux’s commentary here has been fun.
I’m grateful to the documentary crew who came out to film me. I learned a lot about how filming works and had a lot of my opinion on big TV networks confirmed to me. I think I grew as a person from the experience. Otherwise I would not have done it. I am also grateful to Stefan Molyneux for being an essential person in my building up my emotional and intellectual literacy, particularly in my early and middle 20’s.
There’s a war on children happening right now. Let us not shoot the messengers.