Rotten Reviews: The Gray Stage #7

What a bunch of rotten tomatoes. In the following videos, Dan Hennen and I discuss the five movie reviews for Erik Nelson’s documentary, A Gray State. In my opinion, these reviews are full of lies, propaganda, and baseless allegations. To associate David Crowley with the “alt-right,” or with Alex Jones, shows the desperation of the writer’s need to create click-bait. The fear porn continues as the Gray Stage audience is treated to more nonsense by irresponsible writers. Shame on you.

Frank Sheck

In Mr. Sheck’s review, the keyword “alt-right” is mentioned three times, and Alex Jones is mentioned twice. Though Sheck admits Alex Jones “briefly” appears in the documentary, the first paragraph of the movie review focuses on Alex Jones, “Right-wing media provocateur Alex Jones recently admitted in court that he’s merely “playing a character” — thereby lending an ironic subtext to Erik Nelson’s documentary about the deaths of aspiring filmmaker David Crowley and his family.”

Sheck claims “several self-identified “citizen investigators” attempted to prove that the family was murdered — “Credibility means nothing to me,” one of them ironically comments.” If Sheck is talking about me, then he is incorrect. I am not trying to prove that the family was murdered. I’m not sure what Sheck is trying to prove with that comment, but it makes me wonder how much research he has done on this case.

I find his review insulting to those of us who have done research on this case, and are still open to many different possibilities, and have not come to a conclusion about this case. These reviews never talk about the people who are critical, but do not necessarily believe the government killed David and his family. The article leaves the casual reader with a false impression that there are only two choices; either David killed his family or the government is responsible for their deaths.

Overall, I find this review grossly irresponsible.

Nick Schager

In Mr. Schager’s review, the keyword “alt-right” is mentioned five times, Alex Jones is mentioned four times, and President Donald Trump is referenced three times. This piece of propaganda begins and ends with Alex Jones, when it should be about David Crowley and the alleged double-murder suicide. Instead of focusing on the facts, or lack thereof, about the allegations against David Crowley, Schager focuses more on Alex Jones and Donald Trump.

Most interesting about this article is when a friend of David Crowley calls the Gray State fan-base “legitimately insane.”

Here we have another film review that doesn’t mention the numerous holes in the police investigation and alleged conclusion. Forget about looking for facts backing up any of the multiple theories pointing towards David’s guilt. Instead, this review focuses on rumors and innuendo to subconsciously convince the reader that David was an “alt-right film-maker” who, along with his wife, went crazy and committed a double-murder suicide.

The article teases Komel’s complicity in the crimes and dabbles into the theory of a supernatural presence that had been following the Crowleys for over a year. Schager writes that David and Komel embarked “on a joint path of wholesale isolation (from everyone they knew) and [became] convinced they were being persecuted not only by the state, but also by otherworldly forces. Between that sort of lunacy and David’s filmmaking endeavor, which involved staging dog attacks on civilians and point-blank assassinations, it’s no surprise that young Raniya, in a candid video moment, is seen describing her and her parents’ imaginary murders in gruesome terms (“this room is bloody… the red man is going to get you”). It’s a stark illustration of how the mindset adopted by David (and his alt-right brethren) warps and corrupts. And the fact that, as a news reporter points out, Raniya’s morbid fantasy functioning as Shining-esque prophesy only further underlines how dreams of death and destruction often end by coming true.”

Overall, this article fails in its attempt to connect David Crowley to the “alt-right” and to Alex Jones. Still, it does a great job of making baseless allegations. Are Gray State fans “legitimately insane”? All of them?

Anthony Kaufman

In Mr. Kaufman’s review, the keyword “alt-right” is mentioned five times, while Alex Jones and Donald Trump are both mentioned twice. Here is another article that begins with an “alt-right” wet dream. Maybe not a dream, just fantasy writing, or better yet, delusional accusations connecting David Crowley to a fictitious label. The writer calls the premise for David Crowley’s Gray State movie “far-fetched” and labels Alex Jones as “Donald Trump’s favorite fake-news conspiracy theorist.”

The author claims that “Crowley’s fans and devotees were quick to call foul play, suggesting that the US government assassinated one of their would-be leaders.” But what about me Mr. Kaufman? What about those of us who were never fans or devotees of Crowley or his work? Did you conveniently  forget about us because we do not fit into the storyline that either David is guilty or the government killed him? Is it possible there are more options that you forgot to mention? Also, who considered David one of their leaders?

Kaufman also blabbers about his view on the truth, “But the truth, as director Erik Nelson reveals in his carefully plotted out and sympathetic investigation, is more tragic and sad than shadowy.” What I find sad and shadowy is Kaufman’s lack of knowledge on such a serious case.

I’d like to know, and I could take a wild guess, who was the friend claiming Gray State fans were “legitimately insane”? Any guesses as to who that might be?

Don’t forget about the pact-theory. You know, the theory that the murders were premeditated by both David and Komel. They never let a good conspiracy theory go to waste, right? Unless that theory involves the Gray State team, I suppose. “The ultimate mystery of Crowley’s case,” Kaufman writes, “then, becomes not if he was murdered, but how did he and his loving wife embark on such an irrevocable downward spiral together.”

Kaufman ends the review by claiming Erik Nelson’s documentary reveals “the catastrophic ways in which both the government and the alt-right community failed a man and his family, and not in the ways that Alex Jones might think.” I think Kaufman failed his readers and should think about the credibility of such a foolish piece of writing.

Overall, this review makes me want to hit Ctrl-alt-delete on this guy’s film review and erase his nonsense from public view.

Jason Bailey

In Mr. Bailey’s four-sentence review, the keyword “alt-right” is mentioned zero times! Alex Jones is only mentioned once! Thank you Mr. Bailey!

Then again, we are back to the pact-theory, which seems to play a key role at the end of the documentary, A Gray State. Bailey calls the documentary a “sad story of a couple succumbing to despair, and to the same kind of paranoia that infused his work.”

But wait, there’s more! Don’t forget the darkness which can overtake us all, “It’s a hard movie to watch, as his private audio and video recordings serve as journals of a descent into madness, but this is a harrowing portrait how easily our own darkness can take us over, if we let it.” Are you scared yet? Make sure you keep the lights on and don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Overall, this review is a harrowing portrait of a writer who needs to do more research before succumbing to assumptions about a case he knows very little about.

Chris Barsanti

In Mr. Barsanti’s review, the keyword “alt-right” is mentioned three times and Alex Jones is referenced once or twice, if you count the word “Infowars.” The headline begins with, “When Fantasies Kill.” Nothing to fear here, right? The headline continues to attack David Crowley, labeling this case as “the murderous madness of an alt-right paranoiac in ‘A Gray State’.” There’s the fear porn we’ve become accustomed to in these reviews. Thanks Christopher.

Once again the focus quickly turns to Alex Jones, bashing his fans and their depth of research. Why? Because I’m sure Mr. Barsanti has done extensive research on every Alex Jones fan, past and present, right? Or else, why would he make such a ridiculous comment?

Local Minnesota newspaper staff writer Cory Zurowski believes the alleged double-murder suicide at 1015 Ramsdell Drive was “catnip for conspiracy theorists.” I will give Cory credit for never mentioning the phrase “alt-right”  or Alex Jones in his own article, published on March 23rd, 2016. However, it’s a shame he avoided the most important thing I could ever relay to the City Pages staff writer. Zurowski conveniently forgot to mention the bullet-hole in the living room police missed when they entered the house on January 17th, 2015. I expressed to Cory the importance of this particular bullet-hole, as it led to the bullet police allege David killed himself with. Police would not discover the bullet until their third call to the Crowley house, one month after the murders. It was a shame Zurowski avoided such a crucial piece of cat-nip. I still wonder why he avoided the issue. How can one claim to write a fair and balanced article without mentioning the bullet that killed David?

Zurowski mentioned me in his article, but avoided the key piece of information I was trying to relay to him, “”Citizen journalist” Greg Fernandez Jr. points to various peculiarities: Definitive fingerprints couldn’t be ascertained on the handgun. It doesn’t make sense that David was right handed, yet the weapon was found to the left of him. Investigators never fully vetted why the rear patio sliding door was ajar.”

Fair enough Cory, but why assume the patio door made “people like Fernandez and Hennen wonder if the family was murdered by someone they knew,” let’s not forget about the bullet-hole that Chris Cline told police about one month after the alleged double-murder suicide. Even then, that didn’t lead me to wonder if Crowley was murdered by someone he knew. You were so close Cory. Sorry you backed down from the truth. Maybe next time.

The unlocked patio door proved to me why there was no reason for police to look for signs of forced entry. There was a clear entry point into the house through the patio door. Who can deny that? So why was there so much focus on pointing to the fact that there was no evidence of forced entry? I too believe there was no evidence of forced entry.

Several times in Chris Barsanti’s review, David is connected to the imaginary “alt-right” movement, without proof. But that is to be expected in these five reviews. So, why should the assumptions stop there? Barsanti makes it sound as if all conspiracy theorists (whatever that keyword is supposed to mean to him) are not open to the possibility that David committed these crimes. That is simply not true.

“We see a couple self-proclaimed “citizen investigators” dismiss the notion that the crime scene was what it appeared to be,” Barsanti continues, “darkly hinting at outside forces that wanted Crowley silenced.” I do dismiss the notion that the crime scene was what it appeared to be if someone is going to tell me the crime scene appeared to be absolute proof David Crowley was guilty.

How could that be if police failed to find a bullet-hole in the living room ceiling? Why is this fact never mentioned in any of the film reviews or articles about David Crowley? I hope this important piece of the puzzle is finally mentioned in Erik Nelson’s documentary, if nothing else, to save its credibility.

Barsanti then moves on to the “spooky” movie trailer David and the Gray State team released back in 2012, which included “a mysterious entity implanting RFID chips into children (leaving a triangular scar probably meant to evoke the Trilateral Commission).” I’m more concerned about David, Komel, and Rani discussing a mysterious entity following them in their final days.

“The footage of Komel is particularly tragic,” Barsanti writes, “given that she was the one financially and emotionally supporting Crowley through his artistic misadventures, only to possibly fall prey to the same delusional fever that overtook him near the end.”

Barsanti ends the review with a theory of his own, “It wasn’t conspiracy theories that killed him and his family. But Crowley’s obsessive feeding of an online culture that celebrated his darkest fears couldn’t have helped his illness. They helped make the shadows seem real.”

Overall, I wonder if Barsanti truly believes David was a “murderous” “alt-right paranoaic” or if he realized that fear-porn can equal click-bait. Your guess is as good as mine.

So I will debate anyone who thinks they can prove David Crowley was part of some alt-right movement. The Gray Stage continues…

Alec Wilkinson

Alec Wilkinson’s article related to the documentary, A Gray State, did mention Alex Jones, but not in a derogatory way. This is a very thorough and interesting article, a short book in the making.

Unfortunately, Alec fell into the trap of trying to connect David Crowley to an alt-right movement, and avoided the bullet-hole in the loving room – going to far as to tell me, after his article was finally published, that the bullet-hole was not that important. Well, it sure seemed important when I first told Alec about it. He found it strange, and so did his fact-checker who called me before the article was published. Then after publication, Alec basically claims the bullet that killed David was not a big deal. Great job Alec.

Overall, Alec Wilkinson put a lot of time and effort into this article. He seemed sincere when I spoke with him over the phone. After our phone call, I was left with the feeling that this man had not done a lot of research on this case, including the 93 pages of police reports, and the first 464 photos released by the AVPD. But that is just a feeling…

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