Saturday 25 February 2017

Fractured- The Death of Max Spiers

I've known for some time that the BBC was commissioning a documentary about the death of Max Spiers. A few people I know are featured in it. Fractured- The Death of Max Spiers was not broadcast on the terrestrial network and is only available on BBC Iplayer. It was uploaded on the 25th of February and will be available for three months, see: (See here for a longer term link:
"Max Spiers was a conspiracy theorist." says the young female narrator at the very start of the show. The narrator, India Rakusen, doubles up at the presenter and sets out on a "one-woman journey!" to get to the truth about Max' life and death. Interestingly, she is also the producer. She provides a brief biography of Max' life and then travels around England and Poland in an attempt to get to the bottom of why his life ended so abruptly and prematurely. In doing so she interviews several people; most featured are Miles Johnston and Vanessa Bates, Max' mother. As always, these interviews are thoroughly edited. A participant in a programme of this type and duration can expect filming sessions from many hours to several days; yet this is often whittled down to five minutes of cumulative air time. If the producer is under a mandate to portray the documentary's subject in a particular way; it is easy to distort the character for the viewer using selective cuts. I don't know Vanessa very well and have only communicated with her online a few times, so I'm not sure how faithful the programme makers have been to her true testimony. Only she can answer that. Despite this they definitely omitted some significant details; you could give them the benefit of the doubt and say it was just for the sake of brevity. There are far more detailed discussions with Vanessa online, for example see: On the other hand, Miles is a close friend and so I knew immediately that he has been grossly misrepresented. The first scene of him has Miles in a field watching helicopters and talking about trees. Then he shows the presenter round his house and the Bases Project studio. "Do you ever have a disco in here?" she asks sarcastically when she looks at the lighting rig on Miles' ceiling. Then Miles demonstrates a healing system and she makes jocular facial expressions while his back is turned at what she considers frivolous antics. The camera zooms in on Miles' various paranormal books, decorations and ornaments. There are cutaways where she makes more disparaging comments. Here is a statement by Miles about Max' death of his own production; see how different it is: Miles and I have had a very long-running debate about the value of cooperating with the mainstream media and we have totally different opinions. I basically recommend nobody has anything to do with them at all; a "just say no" policy, like the kids are told to do with drugs. Miles still thinks he can do some good by allowing these propagandists to warp and pillory him in this shameful manner. Miles truly believes he can ride this dragon and if he bangs his head against the brick wall for long enough, he will eventually break through. He will not. See the background links below for more details.

The underlying message of the narrative is that there is a real human tragedy involved with Max' death and that we "conspiracy theorists" somehow just don't appreciate that. As if keeping silent about a murder is a way of showing respect for the victim. (I've covered this ridiculous falsehood before here: There is even a scene where the presenter attends Poland's All Souls "day of the dead" service and reminds us, for the third or fourth time in a thirty-five minute broadcast: "Beyond the conspiracy theories and online chat the fact is, Vanessa has lost her child. Max' children have lost their father." The implication is that nobody in our community cares about that. This is the same kind of sickly moral blackmail that was used on the BBC's Conspiracy Road Trip 7/7. The viewer then was told: "Believe the official story without question, or you are a heartless and tactless exploiter!" Between the passive aggressive rhetoric, there is an attempt to provide factual elements to the story. A few sentences from Miles about deep underground military bases, Dulce and Nightmare Hall, super-soldiers, trauma-based mind control etc was spared the cutting room floor; but the subject cannot be understood from such a brief introduction and to newcomers it will just sound grotesque... maybe that's the idea. There was an interview with the Polish prosecutor and they're currently treating the case as involuntary manslaughter. This is when somebody kills another person accidentally. The prosecutor repeated what we have already been told, that a doctor and an ambulance were sent to the scene and the police were never called. Max' body had already left the country when the prosecutors office found out about it and the initial post mortem examination was never carried out. This is a serious breach of normal procedure which the TV programme did not attempt to explain. Max had a post-mortem in the UK which was inconclusive as to the cause of death. "Gaps in the story and rumours fuel great headlines! Unanswered questions are like a red rag to a bull for conspiracy theorists!" says the narrator. Then we see a short parade of the most extreme of these ideas. In truth, most of our community initially discussed the subject the way I did, see:; plenty of far out speculation there, eh? This was my update shortly afterwards:; Tin Foil Hat City, I'm sure you'll agree. "I find it hard to believe such weird ideas are the reason for Max' death." is one of the show's classic lines and it is repeated, paraphrased, several times. The reason they're so "weird" is because this is how the programme is portraying them. Nobody is denying Max took drugs. This started out as medicinal prescriptions and led to higher doses. There is some soap opera-like gossip about what Max' relationship was like with Monika Duval. In truth, only the two of them knew for sure and Monika is refusing to talk to the media. How is it relevant? What difference does it make if they were just good friends and housemates, business partners or a girlfriend and boyfriend? There will be a full coroner's inquest into the death of Max Spiers in a couple of months and the programme is careful not to speculate on what the result will be. Neither shall I. I just hope we get a solution, as Vanessa says in the programme; she just wants to know how her son died. However, there are undeniably suspicious elements to what happened and there is no doubt that the programme-makers are attempting to manipulate the viewer into rejecting any thoughts along these lines a priori. Fractured- The Death of Max Spiers is pretty much what I expected it to be. Somebody wrote to me from the BBC asking me lots of questions about Max and whether I'd be willing to assist with the programme... I did not reply. As regular readers will know, my advance outlook of what this TV show might be like were founded on the mainstream media's track record for coverage of the UFO/conspiracy/paranormal subject which falls far short of acceptable standards, to put it mildly; and enough is said about that in the background links below.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ben - thanks for this, I have just watched the programme. To be honest, I was surprised. As a 'lay' person, but one with an open mind, I can see that there are some deep and complex issues behind this and I can understand your frustrations. Can I just say - I think you should engage with whatever platform is offered to you. You are extremely fair and unbiased and cover many 'mainstream' subjects as well as the more controversial or difficult ones. But you do so with fairness and balance. This is missing from much mms today. I don't think it was missing from this programme. I found India was actually quite balanced and seemed to be trying to present the thoughts of those involved without having the time or resources to present a full paranormal work up. She had obviously formed a bond with Max's mother and gave her respectful and full airtime. I was also amused to see how India reacted defensively to the anti-Max guy, with arms folded and a frown. India was also concerned for Max's treatment, curious as to the loss of the laptop and SIM card and suspicious of the procedures and silence surrounding the matter. I think she did a good job. Having a quick google, she has done other difficult subjects before such as self-abortions etc and I have no doubt she is trying to build a career in programming. However, she doesn't seem quite as slick as the usual TV set and seemed genuinely engaged and non-judgemental. Well done to the Beeb (!) for giving here this brief platform. There are many, many, other stories and truths surrounding Max's life and earth I am sure; his one was a fair go and will reach a new audience.

Joan xx

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Hi Joan. Thanks for taking the time to write a comment. I'll think about what you've said

Unknown said...

How does this kind of nonsense ever get made, let alone published by the BBC...? oh hang on. An interesting conspiracy theory is, well, interesting, providing that it at least contains some semi-plausible material. But a plainly mentally ill guy with an opiate habit hangs out with a bunch of other people whose sanity is at best marginal and dies a few days after being recorded whilst speaking slowly and deliberately in the characteristic tones of a smack-head. Nothing too surprising or suspicious there. However the Polish authorities, not to mention the doctor who was called out to pronounce on the death all seem culpably incompetent. David Icke teritory for sure.
India Rakusen is extremely cute though.