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Manti Te'o

Did Netflix Let Manti Te’o’s Catfisher, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, Off Easy For Being A Tranny?

Perhaps the most impactful documentary to come out since Tiger King was Netflix’s Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist, a in depth look at the Manti Te’o fake dead girlfriend scandal which rocked the sports world in late 2012. While Tiger King unwittingly showed that a homosexual man groomed young adults to be his lovers, Untold takes the approach of obfuscating evil to support an agenda.

During his 2012 college football season, Manti Te’o announced that his grandmother and girlfriend died on the same day. He then dedicated his season to them and had a tremendous season, the story of which landed him in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy Award. As the season went on cracks began to emerge publicly about the story and eventually Deadspin would publish their expose on it. Manti Te’o would fall to the second round in the NFL draft and never had the career many thought he would have, as a result. Catfishing would become a popular term after this incident.

The popular conception was that Manti Te’o was involved in perpetrating or perpetuating the hoax, the latter of which is still up for debate. But the story Netflix tells is one where Manti Te’o was the victim of an elaborate hoax. Indeed great time is spent exploring the methods of this catfish. But who would do such a wretched thing and why?

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo: A Real Exvangelical Story

What makes Untold immediately grab the viewer’s attention is that they feature both Manti Te’o and Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, although it looks like the latter was the last to be interviewed. The background of Ronaiah is quite surprising. He grew up in a in an Evangelical Church, a hypercharismatic one according to what I can research. He grew up a decent high school football player. After high school we went deeper into worship ministry.

In Untold, we hear, from Ronaiah, how he’s a Christian who was struggling with identity, so he created a fake one online and used an unwitting girl’s image to explore his sexuality and identity. He uses his faith and football background to build a rapport with Te’o, ultimately forming an online relationship.

Being characterized by Dr. Phil as for remarkably “immature” handling of his personal issues as well as the fallout from the damage he inflicted, Ronaiah would apply a society’s get-out-of-jail free card: identify as a woman. This earned Bradley Manning a communed sentence from Obama. This prevented Bruce Jenner from ever facing consequences for vehicular manslaughter. And now, Netflix largely gives a free pass to Ronaiah because sometime prior to the documentary filming he identifies as a woman.

Interestingly enough, Ronaiah’s words give off the impression that he is using transgenderism to process guilt, rather than repenting. He still claims to be a Christian. It’s unclear and perhaps unlikely that hard questions were asked about his newfound identity. Instead, Netflix indulged Ronaiah’s transgenderism by featuring him dancing in a ceremonial costume. Furthermore, each part of this documentary features a trigger warning about how the other interviewees were unaware Ronaiah was a transvestite.

This is interspliced with Te’o talking about moving on from the situation. The documentary also has a controversially light tone in addressing the Deadspin writers who broke the story (I have far fewer qualms about this). Despite this, six years give or take and millions of dollars were taken from a man’s life by Ronaiah. 

A popular belief I observe on social media is that Netflix would not have been so generous if Ronaiah didn’t pretend to be a woman in real life the way he does online. I agree with this sentiment. The documentary is compelling because the source material is compelling. But the messaging of the documentary is that transgenderism is above truth and accountability. Despite the damage they explored, Netflix went to inappropriate lengths to see to it that Manti Te’o’s catfish could continue pretending to be a woman.

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