September 12, 2019

Viceland’s The Devil You Know, Episode 1

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Here’s a much-delayed review of Viceland’s The Devil You Know, Episode 1. It’s bullshit; well-crafted, hipster, true-crime bullshit. But, The Devil You Know entertains as it spins Pazuzu Algrad into a Charles Manson, complete with groupies. The truth is that Pazuzu Algrad was a severely mentally ill drug addict who rarely left his mother’s house.

The Devil You Know took geographical license; blending images of Clemmons, Downtown Winston, East Winston and elsewhere into a concocted location that looks like everywhere else. At one point in Episode 1, Silas Creek Parkway is mentioned, but a two-lane country road is shown.  Place doesn’t matter to Hollywood; only the story matters.

The Devil You Know paints a simplistic picture of Winston-Salem and Clemmons. Forsyth County ain’t rural Mississippi. We’ve got more than our fair share of churches, but not everyone believes. Narrator Chad Nance’s assertion that”North Carolina is in the Bible Belt, it’s God’s Country” paints not just our community, but our entire state with an overly broad brush.

The Devil You Know underplays how solidly middle-class Clemmons is. It’s a mostly white, affluent Western suburb of Winston-Salem. It’s the kind of place that doesn’t have much crime, where law enforcement typically takes crime very seriously. That makes the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department and Winston-Salem Police Department’s disinterest in arresting Pazuzu Algard all the more puzzling.

If you look back on the case of Pazuzu Algarad, the guy wasn’t a criminal mastermind by any stretch of the imagination. He could have been stopped by a halfway decent neighborhood association. That house was a shithole, unfit for human habitation.

Former Camel City Dispatch editor, Chad Nance is a brilliant narrator. But he’s a little too obsessed with the moral element of Pazuzu. In Episode 1, The Devil You Know does an excellent job showing how one of Pazuzu Algard’s victim’s life spiraled down after a felony drug conviction. But he doesn’t use the lense of drug addiction to explain Pazuzu.

2749 Knob Hill Drive, Clemmons-the home Pazuzu shared with his mother and band of drug-addicted misfits, was a drug house. Pazuzu wasn’t the devil.  He was someone who fell through the cracks in the system. (If he was Black, you can bet your bottom dollar that he would have been thrown in jail years before he was finally arrested.)

Monsters aren’t born, they’re created by our uncaring capitalist system. Then, years later, their stories are broadcast on national television for all the world to see, in an effort to sell advertisements and undercut class solidarity.

“I sort of look at Winston-Salem as a dark hole” -Nate Anderson

“He was basically a Charles Manson of Clemmons.” -Sylvia Lebeau

“He told me I have a person in my basement” -“Krazy Dave” Adams

 

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