For more years than I’d care to admit, I’ve wanted to follow in the footsteps of Louis Theroux. He seems to have it all figured out. Travel around the world, see some of the most amazing sites, interact with the weird and the wonderful, and then get paid for it! What could be better?!
Some of the experiences he’s had and documented for our viewing and reading pleasure are phenomenal. He has met ‘the most hated family in America’; Ultra-zionists; rehabilitating paedophiles; a plethora of celebrities, and people who keep tigers as pets, to name but a few!
He has had multiple series and shows on the BBC, written for the Guardian, as well as published his own books. At all times he avoids being judgemental or polemic, which makes some of his more controversial documentaries, like ‘When Louis met… Jimmy Savile’ particularly interesting viewing. The avoidance of confrontation allows a more rounded image of people to form, extending beyond their public persona.
His gonzo style of reporting sees him directly in the action zone, often living and travelling with the people he is doing a documentary on. While that would be fun and interesting, a certain level of dedication is required. He can be gone for weeks at a time, which means being away from his family, and when you are doing a documentary on quite traumatic or serious issues, I would expect that the emotional strain is enormous. Imagine being in Johannesburg or inside a mega jail! That takes nerves of steel and true dedication to the field of reporting.
This is why I have such respect for Theroux as a journalist and as a person. He has been willing to throw himself into a situation, despite public perception or the emotionally sensitive nature of the subject, and offer genuine understanding and unbiased reporting. In an age where every media outlet appears to have an agenda, having people eager to just present the fringes of society for more than their stereotyped behavioural traits was, is, and always shall be refreshing. This is why I hope to one day follow in Theroux’s footsteps and one day become a documentary journalist.