Wild, Wild Country is a six episode series running on Netflix about a cult that took over a small town in Oregon back in the 1980’s. I vaguely remember reading about it in the news at that time, but the details presented are fascinating. Actual footage (taken by cult members themselves) made for a truly binge-worthy documentary.
My husband and I had a long talk after it was over about why so many people are so vulnerable to gurus and mystics and flat out charlatans. At first glance you just assume these folks are all insane at some level, (and a few clearly are) but that doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story.
My conclusion is this: Just like with the Corona virus, many are exposed but completely unaffected by the siren-song of these so-called spiritual leaders. Others though, have pre-existing conditions that render them defenseless: addiction, tragedies, personal problems, financial issues etc..
So in a way, it often comes down to unfortunate timing; people going through personal upheaval (and we all do at some point) are highly susceptible to anyone reaching out with a caring hand and a promise of safety, family, love, a hot meal and a sympathetic shoulder to cry on.
It’s hard not to feel compassion for those who find themselves hopelessly tangled up in the web, but it’s oh so easy to feel angry and repulsed by the manipulative spiders who spin them.
This excellent documentary* is not just a compelling look into a cult, it’s an almost unbelievable account of the extraordinary effort it took to save the surrounding county from their ever-expanding grip.
* There is plenty of nudity and disturbing bizarreness so this isn’t for everyone.