The story about the young man known as “the backpacker with the ax” has been the subject of great controversy in networks since his arrival on the platform on January 10.
Netflix has released new documentary film in 2023 and, although the first days on the streaming platform have gone a bit unnoticed, It has not taken long to start making noise on social networks. Although not exactly for anything good. We are talking about The Ax Backpackera documentary piece about a famous true story that took place in 2013, now 10 years ago, and that even then ended up becoming a viral phenomenon, which now It has not been to the taste of many viewers, who have quickly become enraged on social networks.
In Spain it was not as well known as in the United States, but The Ax Backpacker is the Kai Lawrence storya young man whom the Internet dubbed a decade ago as “Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker” and who achieved enormous notoriety and was even designated as a “hero” after having saved a woman from her attacker with the help of an axe.
The event went viral through a video from a Fox affiliate in California, in which a network reporter interviewed Kai, whose real name is Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, as an eyewitness to an event that had just taken place. When asked what had happened, the story that Kai told, with total normality and without ruffling his hair, would end up going around the world: According to his testimony, he had been picked up hitchhiking by a Christian extremist man who had revealed to him along the way that he had raped a teenage girl in the past. Later, after hitting a pedestrian, the driver, far from offering his help, had proceeded to attack the woman, at which point Kai took out an ax from his backpack to hit him hard until he was reduced. The way in which he tells it, with a series of onomatopoeias and impressive gestures, was, to say the least, surprising, since in his story there were no emotions typical of the supposed ‘shock’ situation he had just witnessed.
The video in question has million views on YouTube, Kai became a meme and gained so much notoriety who ended up being invited to the famous space Jimmy Kimmel Live! and also received several offers to appear in ‘reality shows’ and other collaborations. Not long after, however, The one who was designated as a “hero” was arrested for a murder that he himself would confess: that of his lawyer Joseph Galfy, who he would assure was his own defense but who would end up being sentenced to 57 years in prison. After the event, the notoriety of his previous video multiplied his views even more.
Now, The Ax Backpacker Netflix tells the story of McGillvary through interviews with Reisbeck, the reporter from the viral video, staffers from Jimmy Kimmel’s show, McGillvary’s family, and various law enforcement agencies involved in his case.
“I don’t believe what I just saw”
Nevertheless, some viewers of the documentary have been very angry with what they have seen in the Netflix film and how McGillvary’s problems were made a show of, who would suffer from mental illness and had suffered abuse in the past by his family, and the exploitation of his person then, but also now through the documentary itself. Something that splashes Netflix directly according to some, since it offers the story of its story in a ‘true crime’ format and makes an ill-advised and superficial treatment of the event: “It’s literally crazy how each person in this documentary tries to make this go about them and how they were the most important”, can be read among some of the critical comments.
“I’ve been waiting for the moment when someone finally recognized that I needed mental health intervention and there was a rewarding redemption arc. But instead there’s just more abandonment, indifference and exploitation,” “I’ve felt the same damn way. Everyone in the documentary just wants to exploit this guy who clearly needed help all along. Insanely heartbreaking,” denounce other Twitter users.
I don’t believe what I just saw
Likewise, criticism of all those who in their day had something to do with the matter, such as Jimmy Kimmel, but also with how now Kai’s own mother or the aforementioned reporter, continue to take credit for the event: “He has a Serious mental illness evident and everyone rushed to be the first to exploit it”, “Jimmy Kimmel Live and that horrible Kardashian woman should be ashamed for exploiting that young man. It’s so obvious that she needs help.”