Supervillain Series Review: A dark exploration of a controversial life and persona
This dark docuseries feels eerily too real in its portrayal of the life of the controversial rapper 6ix9ine
Why does Batman have so many supervillains? Because even if one fails to spot Batman, the daily news is enough to prove that there are Jokers – supervillains who are the product of the same society we all live in. Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix9ine starts by comparing Joker to Tekashi 6ix9nine, the controversial rapper, and delves deep into the making of this supervillain.
For people who don’t know who 6ix9ine is, the docu-series tells the tale of Daniel Hernandez, who adopts a hip-hop persona called Tekashi 6ix9ine and self-proclaims himself as a ‘supervillain’. He compares himself to Joker and says, “People hate him, but they can’t stop loving him as well.” He goes on to add, “Somewhere deep down, you fall in love with that guy.” Daniel too seems to have fallen in love with that kind of notorious, immoral, un-restricted way of life, and thus begins the three-part docuseries with the three parts titled Identity, Power, and Truth.
Director: Karam Gill
Cast: 6ix9ine, Giancarlo Esposito
Steaming on: Voot Select
The docuseries has three parallel narratives. One is a compilation of years of Instagram videos, interviews of the rapper, newsreels, paparazzi videos, etc. The second one comprises studio interviews, primarily with Seqo Billy and Billy Ado (former friends and former fellow gang-members of 6ix9ine), Sara Molina (first girlfriend and mother of his daughter), Daniel Hernandez Sr (biological father), Adam 22 (host of No Jumper podcast), Brendan Klinkenberg (Senior Editor, Rolling Stone), Ron Barrett (Gang Prevention Specialist), DJ PVNCH (6ix9ine’s DJ), and some other people who are relevant to the story.
The third narrative is the most interesting of the three and it tells the psychology behind the events that transpire. Giancarlo Esposito voices the narration as two human hands build a doll of the rapper from scratch till he becomes the “cultural supervillain.” The entire story is divided into multiple segments that are called the ‘elements of a supervillain’ – trauma, appearance, mission, weapon, propaganda, notoriety, ego, resilience, and society. This is a master move and it really helps in pulling us into the story.
The series first delves into the pathos behind the persona. After the exit of his biological dad, Daniel finds a new ‘superhero’ in his stepdad, Luis Nazario. One unfortunate day, Luis dies, and Daniel says that as a 13-year-old, he felt naked as the one man he thought would be invincible was dead. Daniel realizes that “superheroes always die, but supervillains never die,” and thus it starts. The entire segment humanises his pain and trauma, and the series states that this is how all supervillains are born.
Episode one tells us of the tragic effects of a loveless childhood. The first biggest impact is that Daniel becomes 6ix9ine – a persona who always craves to be at the centre of attention. There’s a story for everything 6ix9ine is – the reason behind his name ‘Tekashi’, the tattoos and the rainbow hair colour. At one instance Daniel says that ‘69’ represents the dual perspectives on the imbalances in life, while at another instance he simply says that it’s so because Daniel has six letters and Hernandez has nine.
Right from this moment, till the end of the third episode, there’s a sense of eeriness and dread in realising that everything that transpires or transpired is real and is also the product of our own society. The major portions of the series explore how the rapper uses social media and the attention economy to do anything and everything he desires. From the start of his career to his ultimate downfall, everything has to do with the ‘shock value’ he brings, and considering the age we live in, it becomes all too real. It’s also really crazy how there is footage of all the debauchery and notoriety that he indulges in – the man is so particular about streaming his whole life to the world to prove that he’s better than everybody else. This reminds us of another docuseries, Netflix’s Don’t F*** With Cats.
We are soon introduced to how he takes things up by a notch by associating himself with a gang called Nine Trey. The tone changes and it is riveting to see the extent of gang-culture in the United States, particularly in New York. The docuseries touches upon the child abuse charges against him, and as it gets really chilling. We soon see another revelation when his ex-girlfriend claims that he had physically abused her. It gets really difficult and overwhelming to watch from here. There’s an interesting comment in the form of journalist Brendan Klinkenber, who speaks about how he couldn’t ethically push himself to write about someone who has child abuse charges.
The series ends with a court trial that follows an FBI investigation on the gangs. There’s even a comment about how race might have played a role in the court’s decision – something that does raise eyebrows. Finally, we get to see the doll-making narrator speak about how society is the final ingredient in making a supervillain, and on how masks play major roles in this post-truth digital world. In retrospect, it reminds us of the first monologue when the narrator says, “Everyone’s a good person at first, right?”
Though the documentary takes a close look at all the fakeness around 6ix9ine – who is depicted as a doll – it also humanises him and shows how detached he seems from himself. However, it will always remain just a close look as only Daniel Hernandez will know the effects of all the trauma that the doll-maker speaks about. Maybe he will quote Joker again and say, “What doesn't kill you, simply makes you stranger!”