A YouTube comment from user, A Teez, sums up both the purpose and the shortcoming of this documentary, stating “I’m trying to figure out whether this is a parody or if it’s for real”.
The Man Who Squeezes Muscles: Searching for Purple Aki (BBC, 2016) is a short form documentary for BBC Three, released simultaneously via iPlayer and YouTube (“The Man Who Squeezes Muscles: Searching for Purple Aki”, 2016). With a supposed runtime of eighteen minutes, despite clocking in at just under seventeen, the programme follows Benjamin Zand exploring the real life story of Akinwale Arobieke (“The Man Who Squeezes Muscles: Searching for Purple Aki – BBC Three”, 2016). However, it fails to tell the entire story by omitting any information that has come from the man himself.
It seems clear the aim of this documentary is to raise awareness of the danger surrounding the man by highlighting the real world impact his actions have had. Beginning with vox pops from locals, explaining what they know of ‘Purple Aki’, the mysterious scene is set with smirks and giggling. Showing how Aki’s legend is no longer truly feared, but feared like most urban myths are feared.
“Even on a wet Monday night in July”, Benjamin states as he tries to give the rest of the sentence greater impact, “Everyone in Liverpool, knows Purple Aki”. Considering he has made national headlines since the 80’s they should know him, so the date and time seems irrelevant. Something that should be considered given the short runtime. It is this lazy filmmaking that leads to the shows let down.
“I want to bring my profile down”, a quote from Aki himself, in regards to his viral bogeyman status. A quote from BBC News, on a page published on the day the documentary released, that clearly has some time and investment behind it (“The man who squeezes muscles”, 2016). However, the programme ended with a note from Aki asking to be left alone. No information directly from him was included, despite this and much more on the page. The contrast of smirks and victims was a warning but not communicated clearly enough because ‘Purple Aki’ was never brought to life.
Commissioning short form for platforms where 16-34 year olds are is a priority for BBC Three (“BBC – BBC Three – Commissioning”, 2017). BBC’s goals and the filmmakers lack of integrity meant this documentary failed.
BBC – BBC Three – Commissioning. (2017). Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 12 February 2017, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/commissioning/tv/articles/bbc-three
The man who squeezes muscles. (2016). Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 12 February 2017, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-6d083913-0bfb-4988-8cd8-d126fa6dcff1
The Man Who Squeezes Muscles: Searching for Purple Aki. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 12 February 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm0FQMo85GM
The Man Who Squeezes Muscles: Searching for Purple Aki – BBC Three. (2016). BBC. Retrieved 12 February 2017, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0472z6v