Harassment, defamation: should the My Little Reindeer series never have seen the light of day?

What was supposed to be enlightening entertainment about mental illness and sexual violence has turned into a manhunt. My Little Reindeer has had such significant consequences that some wonder whether the series, halfway between reality and fiction, should really have landed on Netflix.

My little reindeer should have seen the light ? The question is frontal, however, many fans of the series are asking it, as reported The Guardian. The most watched series on Netflix in recent weeks, both by critics and the public, is acclaimed for its psychological density, its original approach to mental illness and the denunciation of sexual violence.

The series is inspired by the story of Scottish comedian Richard Gadd, creator and main character of the programme. His character, Donny, is a bartender who aspires to be a comedian, but is unsuccessful. One day he offers a cup of tea to a woman, Martha. This simple gesture of empathy triggers an obsession in her that will last 3 years, during which she will receive thousands of emails, letters, messages, and will be followed at her home and workplace. In the series, Gadd showed harassing messages taken from real emails or text messages sent to him.

The problem is that the series had a this psychological impact on the spectators it provoked human and legal consequences Without precedents. The series resulted in a wave of investigations on the characters of social networks such as Reddit, Facebook or X. A worrying reaction for many specialists.

Why are these investigations harmful to justice?

In an article analyzing this phenomenon of viewers of a fictionalized program taking on a very real investigation, The Guardian collected comments from Mark Stephens, a media lawyer. He explains that these amateur investigations could have disastrous consequences on the work of real investigators :

“This new culture of trying to solve crime by calling yourself a detective on the Internet is extremely dangerous. Sure, the show’s makers like to say it’s a true story, but it’s only a matter of time before an investigation is launched be ruined by amateurs, perhaps by destroying the crime scene or damaging evidence.

My Little Reindeer // Source: Netflix
My Little Reindeer // Source: Netflix

“Martha” and “the producer” under attack

These concerns arose after users thrown in a hunt for the real Marthawhich he received a wave of insults and death threats. He announced that she would file a defamation lawsuit against Netflix and Richard Gadd. Jessica Gunning, who plays the stalker, urged fans to stop trying to track down the woman. “It’s really a shame, because it shows that they didn’t look at the series well” she complained, as reported The Guardian.

But Martha is not the only target of this hunt. On social networks users have developed the theory according to which the goal of the series is to demonstrate that the real culprit is not Martha but “Darrien“, a powerful man in show business who sexually assaulted Richard Gadd. The character may have been changed in the series, but viewers have been analyzing Gadd’s career to guess who this man was. Their search led them to the Tony Award-nominated actor, writer and director, Sean Foley. The latter also announced that he had filed a complaint:

“The police have been informed and are investigating all defamatory, abusive and threatening messages against me. »

Towards a “do not investigate” warning at the start of a series?

For Mark Stephens, series creators and platforms must act radical measures so that such a phenomenon does not happen again. After the warning messages announcing a “Any resemblance to existing or existing facts and people would be purely fortuitous and could only be the result of pure coincidence”OR ” not recommended for the most sensitive », suggests the lawyer:

“Perhaps we have reached the point where crime entertainment based on a true story must be preceded by a warning: please do not investigate yourself.

The creators of these shows may also have to go further to change the characters, changing their identities a lot and not just the names. »

My Little Reindeer // Source: Netflix
My Little Reindeer // Source: Netflix

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