Aftermath with William Shatner, Season 1
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Two-time Emmy Award-winner William Shatner takes an in-depth look at what happens when people are tragically or infamously transformed from unknown citizens into household names overnight. Stories like those of Jessica Lynch, Bernhard Goetz and the DC Sniper victims put previously unknown names on the mind of every American, and Shatner intends to find out how the lives of all those directly affected by these cases have changed forever since becoming front-page news. Aftermath with William Shatner takes viewers back to these dramatic events through exclusive access to the newsmakers at the heart of each case — the heroes, villains, perpetrators (when possible), victims, family members, and law enforcement officials — to dig deep into their stories and separate the fact from the fiction. In every sixty-minute episode, new and often surprising information emerges, not only about these events themselves but about how people’s lives have changed in the years since they made headlines. Stories will include some of the biggest breaking news stories of the last two decades including Jessica Lynch, the DC Sniper victims, the Unabomber, Bernhard Goetz, Mary Kay Letourneau, and the Weaver Family of Ruby Ridge.
|1||VideoBernard Goetz||In this episode of Aftermath, William Shatner sits down with Bernard Goetz, known to many as the||44:21||$1.99||View In iTunes|
|2||Closed CaptioningVideoDC Sniper Victims||In this episode of Aftermath, William Shatner sits down with Paul LaRuffa, Kellie Adams, and||44:32||$1.99||View In iTunes|
|3||VideoMary Kay Letourneau||In this episode of Aftermath, William Shatner sits down with Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau as||44:16||$1.99||View In iTunes|
|4||VideoJessica Lynch||In this episode of Aftermath, William Shatner sits down with Jessica Lynch, ambushed in Iraq before||44:22||$1.99||View In iTunes|
|5||VideoRuby Ridge||In this episode of Aftermath, William Shatner sits down with Sara Weaver, daughter of Randy and||44:23||$1.99||View In iTunes|
|6||Closed CaptioningVideoThe Unabomber||In this episode of Aftermath, William Shatner sits down with David Kaczynski, brother of Unabomber||44:29||$1.99||View In iTunes|
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An all-white view of racially charged incident
I find it bizarre that the "Bernard Goetz" episode includes not one interview with an African-American commentator. Given that racial tensions and fears were such an essential aspect of this incident, it's a striking omission.
I do think the program skillfully allows Goetz's own pathologies and utter lack of empathy come through quite clearly - there is no glorification of his actions here. Yet if one asks who gets to tell their story and who gets a full hearing, the young men who were shot by Goetz are almost completely excluded from the show. Even though Shatner and the producers are clearly not overly sympathetic towards Goetz, they essentially let him dictate what parts of this story get told. The only gesture toward including the teenagers at all is in a minute-long montage of their future criminal careers at the end of the show, which merely echoes Goetz's summary dismissal of their injuries because they were "bad guys." One could raise the question, for example, of whether the trauma of being shot and then having their shooter be hailed as a hero and acquitted might have had profound psychological consequences for the three teenagers who recovered from their injuries, and might have contributed to their future criminal activity. We certainly were treated to an elaborate account of the trauma and consequences for Goetz of his brutal mugging three years before the shooting. The overall impression this gives is that Goetz's actions merit some sort of background explanation because mild-mannered white guys don't usually shoot people, but young African American men's criminal behavior needs and deserves no explanation. The implication is that "they are just like that."
My point here is not about the incident itself but about the way the show chooses to represent it so many years later. I do not dismiss the teenagers' own culpability in the incident-it seems clear that they (or at least three of them) were trying to intimidate and extort money from Goetz that day on the subway. They evidently relied on their numbers and physical presence surrounding him to intimidate him, and indeed counted on the fact that he would feel threatened by them and therefore give them some money. But I would think that decades later an examination of this incident would dig somewhat deeper, or perhaps more broadly, to get at the wider context and consequences for all involved.
I would have appreciated an interview with one of the men who was shot, and/or with an African American expert who could talk about crime in NY in the 80s from his or her own perspective. It might have been mentioned that African Americans were MORE likely to be victims of crime than white NYers, statistically speaking, because they lived in poorer, more crime-ridden, and less well policed neighborhoods. The complexities and ambivalences of being African American in NY at that time might have made a powerful statement about the nature of race and economic inequality in the US, both then and now. As it is, we get an exclusively white (though not uninteresting) perspective on a racially charged incident that helped shape public perceptions of race and crime more broadly in the US for years to come.
Especially at a time when accusations of racism are leveled almost daily in our national political discourse, a more varied exploration of race does not seem too much to ask for from the media.
I was in 2nd grade when this happened, and it was awesome to see the other side of the vigilante. It is one great conversation piece especially for those that lived in NY at one point in time.
That's a winner!
But of course: he's Denny Crane!