Dirty Money = Filthy Rich
Directed by Lisa Bryant
I recently watched and finished season one of Outerbanks on Netflix... and I know what you’re thinking. Alaina. This review definitely isn’t on Outerbanks. It’s definitely about Filthy Rich, the docuseries about sex offender and trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
Well yes. I know that. But just hear me out.
I LOVED OUTERBANKS. I truly reveled in almost every aspect of this golden teen mystery. But there were some things I found a little unbelievable. Sarah and John B surviving in a hurricane shipwreck? John B’s father surviving? Ward Cameron getting away with everything he schemed?
It was all just a little much at some points. And I’ll give it to them... it’s a show. But one of the above is not as far-fetched than I thought. Ward Cameron, a rich white guy, easily could have gotten away with everything he did. This disgusting reality that anything can go your way with enough power, money, and blackmail is seen in real life with one man who is hopefully, rotting in hell. His name is Jeffrey Epstein.
I’d known little about Epstein before watching this four episode Netflix docuseries. I’d known he was a child sex trafficker but sometimes it’s hard to wrap your head around how that actually happens. It seems like millions of girls are trafficked and paid for sexual acts, but how come I’d never heard of anyone who’d ever been a victim of this?
This docuseries, with its main focus on the victims stories rather than Epstein’s story, takes us inside of Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion where these horrendous acts took place. Each girl illustrates how Jeffrey manipulated them into feeling like they were valued, and made each feel like they were nothing without him. Not to mention there were other women involved in this scheme, and large amounts of money that kept the girls silent for so long. Jeffrey’s lavish lifestyle combined with his promises of education and money made the opportunities shimmer, but “all that glitters is not gold”. Some things that glitter, are actually rotten scum on the inside. And at the bottom of this scum, sits Jeffrey Epstein.
You can probably tell by my rhetoric, but this docuseries enraged me. Over the past few years I have become increasingly passionate about the stories of women who are victims of sexual assault. I don’t know why their stories interest me, possibly because it’s my biggest fear to be sexually assaulted. I deeply care about these victims stories, and to hear their personal accounts of how a power hungry white man took advantage of them left me thinking about Jeffrey’s circle of power, money hungry white males. Males he easily could expose with his surveillance tapes in his Manhattan townhouse. Males like Donald Trump. I think you get what I’m saying. Vote people.
But my theories aside, this docuseries taps minimally into this narrative. This docuseries highlights the stories of the victims and paints them in a positive light – rather than the harsh labels. It delves deeply into why I want to go into documentary storytelling. In the final episode, the series ends not with a conspiracy, but with one of the victims painting each of the other victims as a beautiful portrait. She walks through each woman, explaining her inspiration behind each portrait. Each woman she displays speaks their final words, and a story of a sick sociopath all the sudden becomes a story of women empowerment. And although I applauded these women as they strode in, well-mannered and postured, to the courtroom, I didn’t want them to have to be there. I wanted them to be living their lives with newfound freedom, now that Jeffrey Epstein is living with none.
But the unfortunate reality is that although they have moved on to live their lives, a piece of them was stolen that can never be repaid. This reality is too common across young women, and it’s to the point that it’s no longerif you have experienced sexual assault, but when. Telling their stories makes it all the more out there, and as they say in therapy talking about it is the first step to healing. Maybe this goes beyond individuals. As we learn to talk about these incidents and stories as a society, we are healing. And as we continue to expose those who need to be held accountable, we actively prevent this from happening in the future.