I love it when movies make me feel some true emotion. Especially when it’s a documentary. A good documentary makes you feel real happiness, or sadness, or pain. Netflix’s newest documentary release “Betting on Zero” did just that, by making me feel pure, unadulterated anger
What could “Betting on Zero” possibly be about to bring out some much strong emotion? The idea of the stupid, f***ing pyramid scheme that is Herbalife. But, let me calm myself for a few minutes and discuss the film, then I’ll get more into personal feelings. The film was directed by Ted Braun, and mostly follows hedge fund manager Bill Ackman as he short sales Herbalife on the Wall Street market and tries to bring them down as a pyramid scheme. The documentary also includes testimony from some former Herbalife distributors, some community activist trying to help those who have been harmed, and even interviews with some of the Herbalife head honchos. Over the course of about 2 years we watch Ackman first public denounce Herbalife, the fall and tremendous then rise in Herbalife stock, and all of the dealings behind what exactly Herbalife is through a Federal Trade investigation. The documentary style they went with of starting in 2014 and then jumping back and forth is history did really well in helping to explain all of the dealings of Herbalife and Ackman. It also helped give you some background on how this company got so big and what it is exactly that they do. Once this film starts to get into Ackman and Carl Ichan (yes, current advisor to President on Regulatory Reform Ichan) clashing over Herbalife it gets even better.
I’ll give you that describing a documentary about stock prices and billion dollar companies might not sound exciting right off the bat, but trust me, there is so much more involved in this film. Hearing the stories of the distributors who lost everything to Herbalife is just heartbreaking. And as you find out more and more what exactly Herbalife is doing to promote their company, especially in the poorer Hispanic community, you can’t help but to feel anger. Okay, I’ve held it in too long. I HATE companies like Herbalife. Multi-level marketing is the type of business model that companies like Herbalife promote and it’s a lie. It prays on the weakness of people chasing some impossible dream. In this case, it’s to rise up to the elite President’s Club. But the ability to achieve that is not possible, unless you are willing to step on and swindle all your friends & family in to falling for your HerbaLIES (just came up with that. I’ll copyright it later). When you hear in the film how Herbalife is dealing with the Hispanic communities because many people are undocumented, so you know they can’t complain later, it just makes me even more frustrated that a company like this exists and is thriving. I can not believe this is still allowed to occur in society. But the fact that “Betting on Zero” opened my eyes up to this and made me feel so strongly is a testament to how good the film was.
I am putting “Betting on Zero” up there with some of my favorite documentaries now like “King of Kong” and “Bigger, Stronger, Faster.” Definitely worth checking out on Netflix. Do so and let me know what you think in the comments below, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on twitter @taketoopodcast
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*Special Note* If you are an Herbalife distributor or supervisor who is upset by anything I said, good. You are not a good person, all of your friends and family hate you, and never listen to our podcast again. People like you, I don’t want as fans.
(These are the personal feelings of host Craig and does not reflect the feelings of the other Take Too hosts)