Crime. Versus. cats.’ Teddy Hart’s wild true story rivals ‘Tiger King’

Personality-based docuseries such as Tiger King, The way downAnd Bad vegan are, to a large extent, the offspring of early 2000s reality shows, and this relationship is once again highlighted by Dangerous Breed: Crime. Versus. Cats. The three-part non-fiction adventure (Nov. 22 in Peacock) grew out of Frederick Kroetsch’s decade-long attempt to turn amateur professional wrestler Teddy Hart into a small-screen star. Though that effort fell through, it gave Kroetsch access to a feral individual who raised Persian cats, practiced polyamory, smoked tons of weed, and was accused of sexual assault, all before his wrestling trainee girlfriend Samantha Fiddler disappeared shortly after. entering her orbit. It’s a tabloid tale of sex, drugs, and violence, which Kroetsch rightly sees as an indictment of himself and the tacky genre that helped facilitate his horrors.

Samantha’s disappearance, which remains unsolved to this day, is the focus of Dangerous Breed: Crime. Versus. Cats., although it can only be understood in the context of Kroetsch’s 2012 decision — as a fledgling Edmonton filmmaker looking for a compelling story — to take a look at the local amateur independent wrestling scene. It was there that he met Hart, a member of a legendary wrestling clan that included Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and Davey Boy Smith, aka “The British Bulldog”. The first time Kroetsch visited Hart, he knew he had a potential ratings mine on his hands, as the athlete resided in a house decorated with marijuana posters and populated by Hart’s partner Faye and girlfriend Michelle, as well as 50 to 100 people. Persian cats that he bred, sold and manipulated. With a blunt always in hand, Hart was a train wreck tailor-made for trash TV.

Though he came from pro wrestling royalty, Hart was in a slump when Kroetsch joined him, thanks to a history of loose cannon difficult and unmanageable. Dangerous Breed: Crime. Versus. Cats. establishes his in-ring skills and manic, narcissistic behavior through a combination of archival clips from his wrestling past and Kroetsch’s first reality TV footage, on which the director often comments in hindsight.

To package and sell his material, Kroetsch took various turns, emphasizing first Hart’s cat obsession and, later, his swinger lifestyle. Yet a real angle emerged when, after two and a half years of filming, and on the verge of finally signing a broadcasting deal, Hart was accused of sexual assault, physical assault and unlawful confinement by Faye and Michelle, who in one A subsequent interview details the methods of domination and control Hart used against them, from stealing their passports and holding them hostage to suffocation and rape.

Hart promptly fled to Dallas and pleaded his innocence to Kroetsch, who, eager to repay his work in a television deal, accepted what his subject was selling and rolled the cameras. In the US, Hart has moved in with aspiring wrestler Machiko, who in one clip is seen threatened with abuse outside a Japanese restaurant (“You’re on loan, fucking time”). In exchange for keeping the show alive, Kroetsch convinced Hart to return to Edmonton to face charges from Faye and Michelle, and when Hart kept his end of the bargain, he was promptly arrested, while Machiko was arrested for an outstanding term and the her beloved Persian cat Mr. Magic has been expelled for a paperwork problem. Within days, however, Hart was out on bail (thanks to shady acquaintance Bill Kazoleas) and grooming Samantha, a stripper and single mother of three, to be his latest protégé and wrestling lover.

Kroetsch admits he’s not particularly proud of these decisions, both because of what he suspected about Hart and because his presence — and the promise of fame and fortune — is what drew women to the wrestler and encouraged and enabled his bad behavior. . For all the director’s regret and recriminations, Dangerous Breed: Crime. Versus. Cats. it doesn’t go the extra step and point the finger at itself as a continuation of such cinematic exploitation, but its relative self-awareness is refreshing nonetheless. Kroetsch is right to position himself as an active and influential contributor to the saga he was recording. And his guilt helps turn these proceedings into a case study of the inevitable effect documentary makers have on the stories they tell, and thus a rebuttal to the nonfiction idea of ​​detached impartiality.

He’s also a portrait of an unhinged freak who lives up to Faye’s description as “one of the worst men on the planet.” This becomes evident once Hart became involved with Samantha and convinced her to move, without her three children, to Orlando to train at the Team Vision Dojo, a school whose owner Chasyn Rance is a registered sex offender (for felonies against minors) and producer (together with Hart) of wrestling fetish videos. Before long, Hart had Samantha rescued, and the evidence on display of her strongly suggests that she stole her Canadian passport and left her to fend for herself as an actual illegal immigrant in Florida. There, after a few months working as a landscaper (and, perhaps, exotic dancer), she disappeared from the radar, never to be seen or heard from again, thus initiating a frantic and futile search by her sister April and her husband. friend Jayme, among others.

Kroetsch confronts Hart about Samantha in 2021, but walks away with only denials, evasions, and selfish grievances. Despite his many lies, it seems likely that Hart had nothing directly to do with Samantha’s disappearance. However, Kroetsch argues persuasively that Hart’s decision to disempower and abandon Samantha in a foreign country with no means to support herself or return home was a major factor in his mysterious fate. For that, Kroetsch feels somewhat guilty, since, as with everyone in Hart’s orbit, Samantha likely stuck to the wrestler because he seemed to offer her a shot at a better life, thanks in part to the her up-and-coming reality TV show.

Dangerous Breed: Crime. Versus. Cats. he doesn’t go so far as to blame Kroetsch more than Hart for this sad state of affairs. Yet, at best, he acknowledges the toxicity not only of the entertainment industry’s “outrageous” individuals, but also of the shows that make them famous.

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