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Ghislaine Maxwell: The Making of a Monster review – we never quite know what made her do it Television

Ghislaine Maxwell: The Making of a Monster review – we never quite know what made her do it  Television

Now the world knows what Ghislaine Maxwell did, Channel 4’s three-part documentary Ghislaine Maxwell: The Making of a Monster has a decent staff to answer a follow-up question that can never be fully answered: what made her do it?

In search of an explanation, the program identifies phases of Maxwell’s early life in which conditions recognizable as incubators for bad people had a twist in them, and injected an extra drop of acid. Growing up under a violent, controlling, multimillionaire patriarch is dangerous enough, but Ghislaine was newspaper favorite Robert Maxwell’s favorite, the youngest of nine, who regularly witnessed her father attack and humiliate one or another sibling at dinner while he was not exposed. for that treatment. itself. Even worse than suffering through a toxic environment, young Ghislaine blossomed into one, experiencing it as a place she was loved.

So, in the latter part of her youth, she was part of an Oxford University clique full of people with rich families behind them and personal fortunes soon to follow. It is always likely to create a selfish, justified individual, but as the daughter of a refugee immigrant – and an angry, vulgar one at that – Maxwell always overcompensated for never being completely one of the establishment gang. Her mark of spoiled arrogance had an undercurrent of desperation, we hear.

In the dizzying 20s, Maxwell combined nepotistically assigned jobs in journalism with his main occupation, being a “socialite” – that is, one who arranges parties without having anything else to celebrate but the party itself. Overbearing self-esteem and aggressive attention-seeking are the core characteristics of anyone fulfilling this role, and some of the stories told here about Maxwell’s time as a queen of yuppie London in the late ’80s are eccentric or awful, while still being relatively imperceptible – and rudely rejects a woman at a party before marching with her husband, for example, or arranges an event wearing only bras and pants, combined with full jewelry and makeup.

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Ghislaine Maxwell: The Making of a Monster review – we never quite know what made her do it  Television
“A servant of extreme misogyny”… Ghislaine Maxwell pictured with Jeffrey Epstein. Photo: Shutterstock

If there is one broader lesson to learn, it is about how the empty, unbound lives of the very rich create fertile ground for sociopaths, but other anecdotes about Maxwell’s behavior provide a direct warning of her future as a servant of extreme misogyny. A terrified witness remembers a party game where male guests were blindfolded, presented to a number of topless female guests and challenged to match the breasts they groped for their owners: “If a man suggested it, I do not think women would have done it.”

There are some gossipers who do not help with the specific task, but who only an extremely restrained documentary filmmaker would leave out, such as Maxwell who apparently claimed that she kept the slim physique that is considered essential for a host in the social circle by following the “Nazis” diet “- that is, eating the very low calorie intake of concentration camp inmates. The joke would be cross-border in any case, but coming from someone with a father who lost his parents, four siblings and many extended family members in the Holocaust, it gets a different taste.

Whatever you think of it, it’s a long leap from Maxwell’s life as a doyenne in high society, albeit an unpleasant and at times disturbing one, to her becoming the monster of the title, a procurement of girls for a pedophile rapist. The program does not fully explain it, but what is clear is that Maxwell’s life turns around the night of November 1991 when her father fell off the side of his superyacht – Lady Ghislaine – and drowned. At this time she was based in New York and quickly became Jeffrey Epstein’s boyfriend, partner, best friend, consigliere or a combination of all four, replacing her father’s malignant protection with another wealthy, powerful, toxic man.

Subsequent installments will bring the primary revelations, and do the important work of giving the victims a voice. In the meantime, it’s hard to know how much weight to put on the episode’s testimony. There is no shortage of articulate contributors or famous faces – fortunately many of Maxwell’s contemporaries at Oxford proved to have the raw talent needed to create prominent media careers – but they are usually at a distance from the woman herself. We hear from observers and acquaintances who often watched up close how she operated, but who can only speculate in her thoughts and feelings. Friends and loved ones who can make it more authoritative are absent, perhaps non-existent.

This is not necessarily a weakness, because it stops The Making of a Monster from falling into the trap of evoking pity for its subject. Instead, we have a disgusting curiosity: Ghislaine Maxwell may not have been motionless, but she moved in circles that made her unfamiliar. She’s better left that way.

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