Louis Theroux will be exploring the American rap and hip-hop industry as part of a new three-part documentary series for the BBC.
Called ‘Forbidden America’, the three films will be an hour-long each and will air on BBC Two. Theroux will be examining how the internet and social media has changed American entertainment, including some of the more controversial artists and events.
One of the films will focus on the rap and hip-hop scene in Southern states, looking mostly at Florida. It will examine how the ‘always-on’ attitude of social media is having an impact on creators.
A synopsis explains: “Many artists become successful through self-promotion online, looking at ways to connect with fans – from feuding online, opening up about their anxieties and fears, and live-streaming their sometimes chaotic lifestyles.
The documentary will look at the good and the bad: “Louis will meet people at different stages of their quest to become successful and followed, from those who have risen fast to those who have fallen hard.”
Two of the other episodes in the series will look at the porn industry in the US in the wake of the Me Too movement, and another around the rise of the far-right.
Theroux says: “The world has gone through massive changes in the last few years, in particular from the effects of social media. This new series looks at the way those changes have affected people in America who are in different ways involved in dangerous, extreme, or morally questionable lifestyles.
“Far-right groups that have found new influence through gaming and streaming services. Porn performers who have seen power shift to them as they’ve embraced creator-controlled apps and called out alleged predators in the industry. And in the rap world young men with big dreams caught up in feuds and high-risk behaviour in the click-driven world of social media.”
Louis says the documentaries weren’t easy to make: “They required delicate access conversations. They feature scenes and confrontations that are shocking and upsetting. But they are also powerful depictions of a world that has become strange in ways we could never have imagined just 10 years ago.
“They show the dangers of the technotopia we all now inhabit, where extremist content can be piped directly into the phones and laptops of millions of children. But they also illustrate some of the positive opportunities the new world has created by disrupting old hierarchies of power.
“I’m very proud of all three programmes and hope viewers will find them as thought provoking to watch as I did making them.”
This isn’t Theroux’s first foray into music. For part of his Weird Weekends series he travelled to New Orleans “in the hope of becoming the first white, middle-class gangsta rapper.”
No date of release has been announced for ‘Forbidden America’ just yet.