Calgary director's Charles Manson doc challenges 'evil incarnate' narrative as oversimplified Social Sharing

On August 8, 2019 Optimum will launch a new book on the Manson Narrative. The book expands on and further explains the docudrama “The Final Words”.

CBC interviewed the author and here is the rest of the story

His name has become synonymous with evil,' James 'Buddy' Day says

David Bell · CBC News · Posted: Nov 16, 2017 7:05 PM MT | Last Updated: November 16, 2017

James 'Buddy' Day's documentary MANSON: THE VOICE OF MADNESS digs into some of the misconceptions people have about 'greatest serial killer of all time.' (The Associated Press/CBC)

A Calgary director's documentary about Charles Manson, which opens Thursday at the Calgary Underground Film Festival, is challenging long-held assumptions about the man many consider one of the most evil people of all time.

"I don't know that anyone is evil incarnate," James "Buddy" Day told The Homestretch.

"I think that is one of the fascinating things about Charles Manson is that his name has become synonymous with evil. When you really dive down and unpack exactly what he is like and who he is, he is just a human being like everyone else."

Day's documentary, MANSON: THE VOICE OF MADNESS, explores some of misconceptions many people have about the infamous convicted mass murderer and cult leader, whose followers killed nine people in late 1969.

"I think what is most misunderstood about him is that he really is a product of the criminal justice system that he grew up in. He was incarcerated when he was nine years old," Day said.

"Understanding him through the lens that he is the embodiment of prison is really important."

A new documentary challenges the assumptions many have on the life of Charles Manson. (File Photo/The Associated Press)

Part of what Day hoped to understand better is the truth behind the Helter Skelter theories.

Day says the Los Angeles district attorney at the time said Manson had gotten out of prison in 1967. After travelling around southern California recruiting people for his cult, he turned them into mindless robots to do his bidding.

"They then said that he became obsessed with the Beatles' White Album, and became infatuated with the idea that there was going to be a black versus white race war that would wipe out the world," he said. 

"They then said that he further brainwashed his cult to believe this and to further the race war, he ordered them to commit a series of murders that would somehow inspire the race war.

"They would hide in a secret hole in Death Valley and then after the race war they would emerge and [Manson] would rebuild the world after the victorious black army would require leadership of some sort."

Convicted of 9 murders

Day says many people don't know the actual charges and convictions Manson faced.

"It was commonly reported that he was convicted of the weekend murder spree which consists of the Sharon Tate murders and the [Rosemary] LaBianca murders. He was actually convicted of nine murders over a series of months, he received nine death sentences. The prosecution said he was guilty of carrying out these murders through a concept of vicarious responsibility," Day explained.

MANSON: THE VOICE OF MADNESS opens Thursday evening at the Calgary Underground Film Festival.(Supplied)

He says his documentary team set out to construct a more fulsome narrative.

"We scoured the earth for anyone we could find that was associated with the Manson family. Many of them have been hiding since the 1970s. I spoke to three or four off-camera who didn't want to participate but would validate certain events for me and tell me I was on the right track."

Day says the process started by nailing down interviews with the man himself.

"On a whim I wrote Charles Manson a few letters. A few months later I was filming a TV series and to my great surprise my phone rang and it said, 'You have a collect call from Charles Manson,'" he said.

"I ran out and spoke to Charles Manson for the first time and then kept talking to him over the course of the next year and really did a deep dive of investigating with my team every aspect of the Helter Skelter theory and then got to meet a whole bunch of people and tried to unravel the mystery."

As to why Charles Manson's story continues to draw people in almost 50 years later, Day says it's complicated.

"I think there is a lot of misconception about Charles Manson. I think people are infatuated because they think he is the greatest serial killer of all time. That is an obvious source of public fascination," Day said.

"What I think, from my perspective, is most fascinating about it, is how deeply misunderstood not only the story is, but the motives and the personalities that were around there and him, himself."

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Mayor Brown's Transformation

City Life Magazine, February/March Issue

From political pundit to party outcast, former Progressive Conservative leader and MPP Patrick Brown, author of Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, shares the triumphs and challenges of his life in politics.

Politics has been a part of Patrick Brown’s DNA from the time he was nine years old. His parents, Judy and Edmond, nurtured this interest in their young son by encouraging him to read a variety of daily newspapers and discuss what he’d read around the dinner table. It was this unbridled passion and genuine interest to serve for the public good that would at first pole-vault Brown to great heights of electoral success, before almost destroying him on both a personal and a professional level. This hit-by-a-truck fall from grace prompted Brown to write Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown

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