Review: Louis Theroux: Forbidden America shone a disturbing light on the alt-right internet trolls who should have been left in the dark

Growing up in the 1980s, I can remember the Government denying the IRA ‘the oxygen of publicity’, a policy which reached its asphyxiating ‘best’ when actors had to speak the words of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, as if ventriloquism would weaken their republican case.
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Watching Louis Theroux: Forbidden America (BBC2, Sun, 9pm), it was hard not to think that maybe it would have been best to revisit the policy.

Louis was looking at the dark side of the American insistence in self-determination and free speech – the rise of the internet-based alt-right demagogue.

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Focusing on Nick Fuentes, the founder of ‘Christian’ far right organisation America First, and viral ranter, this was quite the eye-opener.

Louis Theroux talked to alt-right internet troll ‘Baked Alaska’ (left) in the first episode of his new BBC series, Forbidden AmericaLouis Theroux talked to alt-right internet troll ‘Baked Alaska’ (left) in the first episode of his new BBC series, Forbidden America
Louis Theroux talked to alt-right internet troll ‘Baked Alaska’ (left) in the first episode of his new BBC series, Forbidden America

Fuentes and his acolytes, like self-proclaimed internet troll ‘Baked Alaska’ and bearded misogynistic basement dweller Beardson Beardly, Louis wanted to know how these posturing demagogues were gaining traction online and in the real world.

Caught out in racist posturing, they claim irony and humour as a defence, but seem strangely humourless when challenged. “It’s a puzzling formula,” says Louis, “playing at being racist while also being racist.”

These are men who are so insecure about the changing world about them that they claim to be the victims of it while simultaneously posing as society’s masters.

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Meanwhile, their fringe views are gradually worming their into the mainstream, as shows like Louis’ give them what they can’t get online – widespread, mainstream publicity.

They say sunlight is the best disinfectant, but maybe these cockroaches would have been best left in the dark.

Much like its title character, Reacher (Amazon Prime) is a lunkheaded monolith. Like a 15-rated A-Team, there’s good guys, bad guys and everyone shoots everyone else. Set your brain to stupid and enjoy.

The Rise of the Nazis (BBC2, Mon, 9pm) looks at the Eastern front during the Second World War and Hitler’s mistakes which led to his downfall. An absorbing, serious-minded watch.