Here's why people think Netflix’s new popular crime doco is victim blaming and ‘exploitative’

Here's why people think Netflix’s new popular crime doco is victim blaming and ‘exploitative’

“It’s like having your life story told by all the worst people you have met along the way".

TW: Mentions of rape, sexual assault, and violence/murder. 

People are calling out Netflix about their new crime documentary 'The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker', accusing them of victim blaming, exploiting the vulnerable, and leaving important facts out. 

It follows the wild tale of Kai (real name Caleb Lawrence McGillvary), the hitchhiker in question and how after being a viral sensation, he went on to murder someone in cold blood. Though many people online claim that this is an inaccurate, biased, portrayal. 

Kai himself has commented on the documentary., and he is not happy. Emailing The Tab from prison, Kai accuses Netflix of making money off his name and story. 

"Netflix is making a movie about my life story before I was arrested," he says.  "But they refuse to pay me anything for it... if someone made a movie about OJ Simpson’s football career, you’d better believe he’d be making bank off it."

"Guys who kill and rape women get money for their pre-arrest fame – but I saved women from being killed and allegedly killed a rapist, so Netflix is ruthlessly exploiting me. What the f***?" 

Kai in prison Kai in prison. Credit: Netflix

In 2013, just months after going viral for giving a charismatic interview about how he saved a woman's life by smashing a crazy man in the back of a head with a hatchet, Kai was charged with murdering a New Jersey attorney Joseph Galfy.

Kai claims that it was in self-defence. He was staying the night at the lawyer’s as he was homeless at the time. He recounts drinking with the lawyer and then falling asleep. A couple of hours later he wakes up to Galfy on top of him, attempting to rape him. Kai then killed Galfy. 

Police claim that the sex was consensual and Kai planned on killing Galfy as soon as Galfy offered him a place to stay. Kai was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 57 years in prison. Killing someone who sexually assaults you is legal in New Jersey, where this took place. 

A wanted poster calling for Kai in relation to the murder of Galfy A wanted poster looking for Kai in relation to the murder of Galfy. Credit: Netflix

In the documentary, Netflix portrays Kai's story as a cautionary tale of fame going to someone’s head, turning them into a violent killer.

They also, according to a TikTok by u/saabsucc, refuse to include key facts about Kai’s killing of Galfy, including: a date rape drug (GHB) was found in the lawyer’s fridge; police did not give Kai a rape kit when they detained him; the wounds on Galfy’s body indicate he was on top of Kai when they occurred; Galfy’s brother came to the apartment and washed dishes after the incident, washing away any remnants of GHB that may have remained on glasses. 

“This documentary frames it as if he just stomps this defenceless old dude out,” saabsucc says. “He [Kai] was on GHB, they found the f*cking GHB.”

Kai's mental health troubles were met with a dismissive attitude by all interviewees in the documentary, according to many comments on the trailer and above TikTok. 

“It’s like having your life story told by all the worst people you have met along the way,” one comment says. 

Kai is still in jail to this day, and stands by his self-defence claim, as he has for almost ten years. 

If you, or anyone you know, are struggling with any issues mentioned in this article, please use these free resources:

National Helplines:
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP).

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO).

Healthline – 0800 611 116

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

Depression-specific helplines:
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 (to talk to a trained counsellor about how you are feeling or to ask any questions). – includes The Journal online help service. –  online e-therapy tool provided by the University of Auckland that helps young people learn skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed.

Sexual Violence Victim Support - You can call Victim Support's helpline  24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a specialist sexual violence support provider in your community.