Thursday, January 7, 2016
My Review of The Source Family Documentary
Since the documentary came out in 2012, there have been many 'reviews' done about it, along with many interviews done with only one person with the same self-serving, one-sided idealized narrative that much like Pinocchio's nose keeps growing exponentially with each telling; along with their own grandiose self-promotion. So, I thought that I would review the documentary, since I did spend six years of my life in the damn thing and have firsthand experience. I was sent a copy of the documentary not long after it was released on the public at SXSW in Austin in 2012, and at first watching it brought back all of the yucky, unsettling feelings and emotions that I had experienced 40+ years ago, that I had suppressed and tried to forget about, as I had gotten on with my life having nothing whatsoever to do with either Father Yod or The Source Family any longer! So watching the film conjured up all of the sordid memories and awful feelings of being in the group; so at first it was difficult for me to even watch. Because, as with many others; it was a welcomed relief when the whole thing finally ended. There was such a sense of welcomed relief when the 'Source Family' came to an end; it was like being released from an internment camp where you had suffered deprivations and were finally being released! That is what it was like for many of us, when the entire Source Family debacle finally ended, when even though faced with the stress of having to scramble to figure out where you were going to go, and what you were going to do next, it still brought a welcomed euphoria of being released. This was something that I feel the documentary failed to show. But, life in The Source Family had become insufferable, where it had been reduced to most everyone having very little in the way of either food, or material comforts or possessions of any kind; yet where the few women who were considered Father Yod's/Yahowha's 'women' were still being taken care of and attended to using the little remaining resources and the financial support of one older gentleman, who was among those who continued to pander to 'Yahowha's mother-angel' and his other women treating them as though they were royalty, often where the needs of their own spouses and children became secondary to the needs of 'Yahowha's women.' That was the extent of the maladaptive behaviors germinated within The Source Family, and where the majority of us just wanted the whole thing to end; which thankfully it finally did when it became imminently clear that 'the family' could no longer be supported as a group or a whole; as it had been from the income of The Source Restaurant back in Los Angeles where all of the profits went to support the entire group. But, those days were over and only a handful of men/sons were capable of going out and earning money and the women with children were forced on to welfare, but even then it certainly wasn't enough to sustain the entire indigent group of 'family members'; especially since none of the women were allowed to work in the 'real' world the entire thing became unsustainable. Yet, the documentary somehow gives the audience the impression that life within 'the family' was one of wealth and affluence, but then the glowing accounts and puffery describing Father Yod and life in the family by some of his more devout followers contributes to giving the audience a fairy tale perspective. But, the realities of being in The Source Family were something other than the phantasmagoric imagery that some people have tried to present to the public at large, and where the voices of only one or two people have been heard, since the overwhelming majority of former 'Source Family' members like myself have wanted absolutely nothing to do with any of it any longer, and do not want to be associated with having been part of a cult where engaging in sexual activity with women in their menstrual cycles took precedence over everything else! But, now I feel the overriding need to disabuse people/the public of the idealized narrative that is being foist upon them into believing that Father Yod and life in the family was something worthy of following or emulating. I do feel that the two young women who made the documentary did the very best they could given the overembellished and one-sided story or version of events that was presented to them, and their limited exposure to a larger pool of former family members, and so because of that; I feel the film lacked any of the more harsher and negative opinions, views and memories of so many who actually populated the family, and the negative impact it had on their lives. Which left only interviews with people who either had very little to do with the actual Source Family, or the small pool of people who made only very positive comments. Robin Baker's interview segment was the only one that came close to describing just how damaging life within The Source Family had become or expressing the long-term negative impact that the experience had on so many who ended up feeling betrayed and taken advantage of by Jim Baker; people who feel embarrassment and regret for having believed and followed him for as long as they did. Instead, the documentary mainly consists of interviews with onlookers and bystanders; people who knew Jim Baker before he morphed into Father Yod/Yahowha, several sensationalized sound bites to describe the overall experience, and an abundance of overzealous comments made by his most fervid and devoted followers; people who continue to worship, exalt and adore Jim Baker and who are trying to dust off and polish up his image to present Father Yod to the world again in the hopes of either re-forming The Source Family or at the very least to gain their own following and/or fan base. Overall, I feel the documentary gives the viewing audience an incomplete and even incorrect view of what life was really like in The Source Family; where it gives the impression that life in 'the family' was an abundance of wealth and one long frolic in sex, drugs and rock and roll; when the reality was something quite different for the majority of people who comprised The Source Family; where only a few of Father Yod's favorites received 'special treatment' and were put into positions with buying power for either nicer clothing, or musical instruments and equipment deemed only for a select handful, where only a select few were given the opportunity to escape the doldrums of an otherwise powerless, enervated existence within The Source Family. Ordinary family members like myself and my son's father, along with many others did not benefit from all of the money that was poured into either producing and promoting Yahowa 13 just so Father Yod could live out his rock star fantasy, or his travels to India, or in his private indulgences of eating at expensive restaurants in Beverly Hills or shopping at I.Magnin, or using cocaine riding in his Rolls Royce with only a chosen few on his way to play a high school to troll for new 'spiritual children' to add to the already overcrowded and unhealthy living conditions that life in The Source Family had become; to finally where Jim Baker escaped the deteriorating conditions at Doc Hill in Hilo to move to a lovely hilltop home in the expensive bedroom community of Lanikai on Oahu, with only his select entourage of 'women' spending his final days in idle self-indulgences which the remaining family members had no part. I feel that the documentary failed to show all of the above and fell short of presenting the more harsher, negative experiences, views and memories of those who have been left with a feeling of being duped, used and even stupid for following Jim Baker, for as long as they did.