The Inventor, Theranos, and Multiplatform Schadenfreude

WIRED | 3/18/2019 | Peter Rubin
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Over the course of 119 minutes in The Inventor: Out For Blood in Silicon Valley, Alex Gibney's new documentary about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, very little is made of Holmes' speaking voice. Very little needs to be; she's on camera for much of the movie, her presence stitched together from news clips, conference appearances, and a surprising wealth of leaked internal footage. Yet the absence is curious. Her cake-in-the-throat alto, which many allege is an affectation, has emerged over the past few years as one of people's favorite characters in the duplicitous saga of Theranos. The Inventor lets it stand on its own. That may be because Gibney sets out to tell a different—but it's more likely that he simply knows you know.

Peter Rubin covers culture and technology for WIRED.

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Through John Carreyrou's Wall Street Journal reporting and subsequent book-length expose to ABC News' podcast The Dropout, and now to HBO's The Inventor, the story of Holmes' rise and downfall has been repurposed more than a Nanotainer's contents in Theranos' mythic (and mythological) blood-analysis machine. What it has not been is diluted. People's appetite for tonight's documentary feels just as voracious as it was for Carreyrou's Bad Blood, which came out in May 2018—and taken in sum, that hunger has become an oddly fitting literalization of the "just hook it to my veins" meme.

Gibney's treatment of the story has much to recommend it, but it's most instructive as the apotheosis of a particular cultural moment. With so many ways to consume stories, consumers are increasingly using them all in order to wring every possible microdrop of schadenfreude out of the most enduring story of all: hubris.

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(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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