Dahlia Schweitzer Featured in Menendez Brothers Docuseries

Dahlia Schweitzer on camera for Menendez Brothers documentary

Dahlia Schweitzer, chair of Film, Media, and Performing Arts, is heavily featured in a new four-part docuseries, Menendez Brothers: Victims or Villains, which premiered on the streaming service Fox Nation in March.

The documentary series looks at how the media shaped public perception of the infamous 1990s trials of the brothers who killed their parents. They claimed their father had abused them and threatened to kill them but still were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. It was the first trial broadcast on Court TV and, according to Schweitzer, a landmark moment in the history of television.

Schweitzer became interested in the trial when watching a 2017 docuseries about the case, Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders; she became incensed at the injustice.

“Every little thing was stacked against them,” Schweitzer says.

She did her research to write a blog post about the Menendez brothers case and in the process met Hazel Thornton, one of the original jurors on the case, and Robert Rand, who wrote a 2018 book about it. In 2023, because of her blog post, Schweitzer was approached to offer commentary in the documentary from her perspective as a cultural studies scholar. Her expertise lies in using film and media as a time capsule to understand attitudes in the real world.

“I talk about how media shapes real life and vice versa, and also look at how public perception has shifted now from 1989,” Schweitzer says. “Those were the two important angles for this documentary.”

Schweitzer will be screening the first two episodes of the series on April 23 at 3 pm and interviewing director Nicole Rittenmeyer. They will talk about “how the media shapes public understanding and the nuts and bolts of what it means to be a documentary filmmaker.”

The event is free and open to the public, but contact [email protected] to RSVP.

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