The existence of the Hulu documentary Look at Me: XXX Temptation is kind of perplexed. XXXTentation He was an artist who was almost undocumented. Blogs, magazines and newspapers covered what seemed to be his every move – starting with the a move that sparked his notoriety. Strangely enough, with all this documentation, it seems, the enormity and abomination of that initial move was never really calculated, despite the Florida-born artist emerging at the height of an era in which almost everyone can obsessively and thoroughly document their own lives, in real time for audiences of thousands (the film seems pretty disinterested in that, too).
Against these circumstances, the new documentary raises more questions than it answers, and the one hovering over all of them is: Who is this for? Produced by XXXTentacion’s manager, his motherand the co-founder of The Fader magazine, the two-hour production initially serves as a biography. There are interviews with pivotal figures in X’s early career such as his former manager and friends like Ski Mask The Slump God. However, early problematic behavior such as hitting another youngster for a live stream on Periscope is characterized as simply marketing tactics or the reckless behavior of an exuberant personality. This is the first sign that this documentary seems to be heading in the right direction.
Tension is mounting over the introduction of Geneva Ayala, the young woman who dated X shortly after some of her initial success – and whom he nearly beaten to death in horrific cases of alleged domestic abuse that was again. narrated in sensational detail in court documents this appeared in the long-standing case that was never resolved. Ayala describes herself as “lost” as she continued her troubled, controlling relationship with XXXTentation. It takes almost an hour for the film to finally address the elephant in the room, and then strategically placed title cards seem to cast doubt on Ayala’s claim that she was pregnant when X attacked her. She also confesses to infidelity, which you cannot tell me is not another strategic move to undermine Ayala as a victim.
This is where XXXTentacion’s story highlights the grotesqueness of the entertainment industry. As X continues in prison but receives more attention as a result of the horrific allegations against him, Labels comes calling, seeking to profit from the disclosure – no matter what it implies about his eventual partner. And while scenes recounting his record deal negotiations accurately reflect X’s business acumen at such a young age, they also – perhaps unintentionally – accuse those who viewed him as a cash ox rather than an annoyed young man who needed another kind of help.
The film returns to an examination of his album recording process for 17 and the resulting success of the album. Over the course of that documentary’s action, recordings are dredged up to reflect XXXTentation’s broken state of mind – his paranoia, depression, and anxiety. It’s almost as if the film begs for sympathy for him, as if his talent and mental illness could justify or excuse his behavior. While the producers never shy away from the things he did or deny them, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the producers – the people closest to him who benefited the most from his career, even because they probably had the greatest responsibility to get him . advising or encouraging him to restore his victims – bargains for acquittal for himself.
That sense comes through most strongly in a roundtable scene toward the tail of the movie in which X’s aunt laments that X’s abuse hung over his head and defined him as much as his music. “How do you fully redeem yourself if every time, at every corner, it keeps popping up?” asks his mother. An off-screen interviewer replies, “How do you redeem yourself without ever confessing that you did something wrong?” The answers are as inaccurate as X’s own answers to the matter; focus on judgment, on his sense of personal responsibility, the potential of his lost life. X’s mom offers her belief that he would have changed if he had only gotten the chance – but would he? And what does it say about his fame that so many wanted to excuse him if he didn’t?
That is the true tragedy of a life as short as the temptation: We will never know. Yes, with more time, he could have turned his life around, maybe in prison, maybe on probation, maybe years or even decades later after a lot of therapy and self-reflection. But the other side of it, this movie and the fans of X and all the entertainment that has benefited from covering his explosions, his meltdown, his triumphs, his failures, and yes, even his untimely demise can’t seem to acknowledge that . he could have stayed the same. He could have gotten worse. That’s the “complex” part of having a “complex legacy”. Look at mewho seems to be so for Jahseh’s closest partners to save their guilty consciences like anything else, never really wants to look at that.