The Vanishing of Richey Manic (1996) is a documentary I recently came across on YouTube. It is a harrowing documentary and that’s not even the subject matter which you’d expect to be harrowing. It is the exploitation and insensitivity shown to something which is very sad which made me feel sick and uneasy watching it.
The general theme that runs through this documentary about the disappearance of Manic Street Preachers’ member Richey Edwards is centring on the stereotypical rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of excess which is a very narrow-minded way to deal with a documentary. Yes Richey was troubled and depressed but every individuals’ situation is different and it’s the sinister way in which they deal with the situation that makes it very chilling. If you switched on this documentary and didn’t know it was a real situation that happened you couldn’t be condemned for thinking it was a plot by a thriller writer the way the ‘reconstructions’ are done and the narrator is talking. And this is before we even get to the commentators.
With the exception of Simon Price and Steve Lamacq I found the commentators all rather insensitive. I think what really got me was I was thinking of his loved ones watching it. Definitely if this documentary was about someone I loved I’d hate it. I don’t actually think that the fans who were talking represent every Manics fan. I think there definitely needed to be a more wider spectrum of fan views there which would have made it feel less like propaganda but that would of course not have fit in with what the aim of the makers seemed to be. I am a fan of Boy George but this was not one of his highlights for me.
“I think if he is alive it would make the whole story much more interesting and much more intriguing and exciting and we could all drag it out for a lot longer.” was one comment and it almost felt like he was talking about a fictional mystery TV show or something. In fact that was the vibe of the documentary in general. Like one was sitting down having tea and biscuits and a good old gossip about a mystery on the television. It was a bit weird really.
So definitely I would give this documentary a thumbs down but watch it below if you get time and form your own opinions from it. And Richey Edwards, wherever you are whether you are with us or not I hope you’ve found peace.