Let’s say it straight away: Survive Death (2021) It is one of the biggest nonsense of this incipient movie season. And it does not come from any newbie or someone who has not earned our respect with their previous contributions. Because the American filmmaker Ricki Stern is no stranger to documentaries. His career includes thirteen feature films and three television series of the genre since Neglect Not the Children (1991). Always with his compatriot Anne Sundberg, he has made The trials of Darryl Hunt (2006), The Devil Came on Horseback (2007), Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010) and In My Father’s House (2015), multi-award-winning at various festivals almost without leaving the United States.
Surviving death is one of the biggest nonsense of this incipient movie season
In addition, their collaboration extends to Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing (2016) for HBO and Case Roe: Abortion in the US (2018) for Netflix. Not forgetting The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park (2019) and Surviving Jeffrey Epstein (2020), two of the three television series we mentioned. This is followed by the inconceivable Surviving Death, recently released as his second contribution to the platform by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph. But this time his countryman Jesse sweet She has replaced Anne Sundberg as co-curator of the work. With the curriculum of having directed chapters of eight documentary series and the film City of Joel (2018).
Phenomena without scientific proof
They talk about parapsychology as if it were a science, when it is in all the compilations of the pseudoscientific, something amazing
One of the most outrageous things about this Ricki Stern skid is that lies about what an approach with the method of science to a specific subject entails and what does not. Spreading amazing falsehoods on the matter and it goes very far from the consensus reached by the scientific community. Because no one, in all of human history, has been able to demonstrate to us, under measurable laboratory conditions, the existence of something paranormal. Nor by offering them a large sum of money. And there are those who have dedicated their lives, like the great James Randi (1928-2020), to unmasking those who take advantage of the credulous in this field. For feeling special or filling your bottomless pockets.
And something that is very well known thanks to neurology is that what we perceive does not have to coincide, neither too much nor too little, with what we interpret that we perceive. We may not even have perceived anything. Because our brain is flawed. And, given the absolute lack of evidence of any kind on the alleged near-death experiences in the chapter “Near-Death Experience” (1×01), the imaginary signs of the deceased in “Signs from the Dead” (1×04) or the alleged interactions with ghosts in “Seeing Dead People” (1×05), we can resort to reasonable explanations, without being delirious with the fantasies of Surviving death, because of our neuropsychological knowledge.
Parapsychology is not a science
The many nonsense that people who appear in Surviving Death are not denied in any way
But in this amazing documentary by Ricki Stern they talk about “materialistic science” as if there were another to determine what exists with a reliable method. And of parapsychology as a science when it is in all the compilations of the pseudoscientific, which is amazing. They happily continue, on the other hand, with the most widespread fallacious cliché on this matter: that “there are things that science cannot prove, but that does not mean they do not happen.” And there all possible delusions find justification, when the truth is that, if it cannot be verified with the scientific method, what is affirmed about it are nothing more than inventions. And we must apply Hitchens razor.
‘Survive Death’ is a loudspeaker for tricksters
Surviving death serves as a loudspeaker for charlatans who make money fooling people, such as fee mediums
But in no way can Ricki Stern and Jesse Sweet hide behind the fact that this is a compilation of testimonies from other people, in which it is not their voice but that of the interviewees. Because the speech transmitted by the six delusional episodes of Surviving Death is the one that the two filmmakers have decided, theirs. And not one of the many nonsense that the people who appear in it are disproved in any way. If that already entails enormous gravity, what it means to serve as a loudspeaker for charlatans who make money by tricking people, such as rate mediums, is the repanocha. AND, if you have your head on your shoulders, you suffer a lot with this farce.
The mess it goes to the point that, in an embarrassing scene from the chapter “Mediums, part 1” (1×02), a churrullero does not work fishing with cold reading, he makes an absurd excuse and the documentary continues as if nothing had happened. Or, in “Mediums, part 2” (1×03), a séance is held with the theatrical protagonist hidden, in the dark and with prohibited video recordings, lest someone contemplate what is happening; and the false materializations of the Polish Franek Kluski are presented (1873-1943) as true, being that his fraud was known when he burned his buttocks with the paraffin for trying to leave them the mold of his own supernatural butt.
Surviving death is a regrettable attempt to legitimize magical thinking, which deliberately steals logical explanations from viewers
Surviving death is a regrettable attempt to legitimize magical thinking, which deliberately steals logical explanations from viewers. Even when someone brings them up, because they get lost in the mess. It is an appalling compendium of non sequitur fallacies and rampant cognitive biases. And in this one people intervene who see miraculous signs where there is absolutely nothing and establish connections between events and deceased people whose relationship is only in their heads. As in the chapter “Signs from the Dead”. And documentary filmmakers think it’s great that this is the case, that this huge amount of nonsense serves as support for an irrational thesis.
Taking advantage of desperate people
And the worst comes when Ricki Stern assumes the same role as the mediums he resorts to, that of emotional scavenger. AND uses the terrible grief of his interviewees to support his fallacies. That of people who have lost a loved one and are broken with grief, who recognize themselves as desperate and in search of some meaning for their tragedies or some glimmer of hope to relieve them. In a word: vulnerable. And they run into subjects who are dedicated to feeding their illusions from beyond the grave. So irresponsible that, at some point, they say that breathing exercises are better than an antidepressant and that, oh, you have to “put the critical mind aside.” Lest they drop the beach bar.
He uses vulnerable people who have lost a loved one, are broken in pain and admit to being desperate to support his irrational thesis
Or that they decide that something paranormal is authentic based on their subjective impressions, period, as during “Seeing Dead People” (1×05) or “Reincarnation” (1×06). The height of ridiculousness. And it is that Surviving Death, made with the audiovisual diversity and the profession that Ricki Stern assumes, provokes indignation and sadness in equal parts. The one, because it lacks the most basic intellectual decency; and the other, through the abysses of folly to which we see these poor people pushing and rushing in their mourning. AND, With the good that Netflix often does for the new age of cinema, that it lends itself to spreading something like this reprehensible documentary series should embarrass them..
The article Criticism of ‘Surviving Death’, the ridiculous and outrageous Netflix documentary series was published on Hypertext.