Murder Mountain

Well, I never seem to find the time to write blog posts, but I write lotsa stuff on Facebook. So, I’ll start copying and pasting some of my better—longer, anyway—FB posts…

Hmmm… Andi and I finished watching Murder Mountain* last night. For some reason, I feel compelled to say something about it… I suppose it’s because we’re in the next county, dealing with some of the same issues and the same cultural/political milieu.

First off, MM is very entertaining. The crime story and the historical/political documentary blend together well. Plus, it’s beautifully photographed; it was interesting to see some of my favorite hiking and photography destinations used as a backdrop. The historical elements are especially well done. For example, MM documents how peace-loving hippies started growing dope in the Humboldt back country, CAMP came in and drove many of the hippies out, drove pot prices up, and opened the door for violent organized crime elements. It also documents how growers who are trying to go legal get swamped with absurdly expensive red tape at the same time prices for their crop are plummeting.

Second, I really have no idea how accurate the crime story is. There are real issues here, no doubt. Trimmigrants are often exploited and ripped-off. Justice in outlaw communities is elusive. But MM’s discussion of these issues is a wee little bit sensationalized, hyperbolic, and exploitative. And a double “I really have no idea” goes to the Humboldt Sheriffs sub-plot. The Sheriffs are portrayed as cowardly, apathetic, and lazy. They refuse to go near the crime scene because the people there are meanies with guns. They refuse to investigate even when they’re given evidence, because the evidence wouldn’t hold up in court. Which raises the question: what is the Humboldt County Sheriffs’ job description, anyway? Isn’t gathering evidence and dealing with armed people part of it?

Overall, I’d recommend anyone interested either in cannabis or northern California watch the show. The serious issues and fascinating history more than make up for the sensationalized crime story elements. And the criticism of the Humboldt Sheriffs, justified or not, is entertaining, at least.

* Murder Mountain is a six-part documentary mini-series on Netflix.

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