Mirror Mirror: “I was disappointed in Miranda Kerr”
For his two part doco into the ethics of the Wellness industry, Todd Sampson missed out on hearing from celebrity influencers but immerses himself into extreme treatments.
In the $6 trillion Wellness Industry, Australia ranks sixth globally for spend per person.
While the World Health organisation has 12 million followers, Kim Kardashian has 363 million, figures that alarm Mirror Mirror‘s Todd Sampson.
“The challenge we face with the wellness industry is that we live in a world today where the three biggest health influencers in the world, are not medical doctors and have no formal degrees. Gwyneth Paltrow, Joe Rogan, Kim Kardashian influence hundreds and hundreds of millions people. You could combine all the doctors in the world, and they still wouldn’t have the reach of those three people,” he tells TV Tonight.
“I don’t hate Gwynneth at all.”
Despite approaches to Gwyneth Paltrow to participate in his new two part documentary “Are You Well?”, the actress / businesswoman did not agree to a sit down interview. But he fully expects some of her millions of followers to take issue with his commentary on her power and recommendations.
“I don’t hate Gwynneth at all. I don’t know her at all, other than her Godfather is Steven Spielberg,” he insists. “But I wanted to have her voice. Because many of the things, particularly in the first episode, tantra, the weekend spa for detox, the bee sting therapy, linked back to her in some way, shape or form. So I thought it’s only right to give her a voice,” he explains.
“But I get it. The New York Times attacked her, she’s under a lot of criticism. I think she’s considering selling the business. So I understand that she wouldn’t bother.”
“I’m not a gotcha kind of person. It’s not A Current Affair.”
He also nominates Australian model Miranda Kerr as having mega-influence in Wellness. But again, he missed out with an interview.
“I was disappointed in Miranda Kerr. I thought for sure she would at least agree to an interview because she has a crystal business. I’m not a gotcha kind of person. It’s not A Current Affair. I would not have approached it from that angle. I wouldn’t have done that with Gwyneth either. I would have explored it, trying to find the ‘why?’”
He did get close, sort of, when Kerr was texting a leech therapist (yes really) who was busily attaching parasites to his body as part of a bloody facial (yes really).
“I felt like saying, ‘Don’t tell her I’m here.’ But, again, I wouldn’t have been mean at all. I want to understand how she built up this crystal empire.”
The facial was part of a treatment he underwent in the USA during his 6 months of filming. Amongst his other studies are treatments with magnets, crystals and even bee sting therapy. While he warns against the leech and bee sting practice, he admits to a possible placebo effect from the 2+hrs of attention.
“Please, please do not do that at home”
“There’s so many lovely, caring people in the film who, in their mind, are doing the right thing and in some cases they are and other cases they’re not. The leech therapy is not ending well for the leech, but also having coagulated blood covering your face is probably not a great idea,” he warns.
“Even worse, is doing dental work in your living room with leeches. Please, please do not do that at home.”
Time-wise, at least, there’s a lot to be said to 2+hrs compared to the standard GP appointment time.
“If I go to see my medical doctor, who I have been with for many, many years, I’m there for 15 minutes max, no matter what I have.
“As a doctor says in the series, they work in increments. When I go see that crystal woman for two and a half hours, that level of care is completely different. Whether it’s placebo, whether it’s just touching you and making you feel good, we’re talking two and a half hours (compared) to 15 minutes. You are going to walk away feeling a lot better, but not really understanding why,” he says.
“I am, or was, a wellness addict myself”
Sampson is personally no stranger to wellness therapies. He’s tried plenty of zen concepts himself.
“It would be fair to say I am, or was, a wellness addict myself. I’ve tried many, many things: retreats, mini-cults, I’ve done all the acupressure, acupuncture. I haven’t really tried crystals until the film. That was a new one for me,” he admits.
“But I now look back at some of those and I’m a little bit embarrassed. My style of filmmaking is immersion anyway so I’m happy to go and try it.”
In episode two he admits to being ‘high on psychedelics’ while hosting the show.
“That’s going to be a little confronting, I think, for some people, and some of the things that happened afterwards… It made me think of my mother who had died an addict, and I ended up commenting on that. Things I never thought I would do, I did in that sort of psychedelic realm. It’s rare that you’re on the drug that you are trying to explain down the lens,” Sampson continues.
“There’s so much risk around lack of regulation”
“Australia is the first country in the world to legalise the use of psychedelics for psychiatric treatment. There’s so much hope and promise when it comes to depression and PTSD. On the other hand, hopefully we demonstrate in the film, there’s so much risk around lack of regulation and science not having caught up. It just becomes a kind of westernised McDonalds version of psychedelics. With that comes incredible risk.”
Despite this he does see a future in psychadelics. Yet there are still some fundamentals that will extend life expectancy without costing too much money.
“Psychedelics, I think is incredibly worthwhile. I think we need to learn to walk before we run, but I think it’s incredibly worthwhile. Meditation is scientifically proven. Most the scientists (profess) the basics. Eat well. Eat less. Try to sleep eight hours a night. Be social with other people. Walk for 20 minutes a day. That prescription is not a bad one. That’s not misinformation, not hyperbole. That’s just really good advice,” he suggests.
“They’d rather get some kind of magical crystal put on their forehead.”
“But people would rather find a supplement. They’d rather get some kind of magical crystal put on their forehead.”
If Mirror Mirror holds up a mirror to the individual and society as a whole, what is he hoping people take away from the documentary?
“I hope that on some level, the show is helpful, maybe educational, good for kids. And I hope people take another level of scepticism when it comes to wellness. It’s one thing to choose a filter on your profile. And it’s another thing to be influenced by people online, that have no medical experience, degrees or qualifications, and then either ingest something or do something to yourself,” says Sampson.
“I hope that watching the film they’ll be entertained, but they’ll also be able to talk to the kids and their family and go, ‘Hey, you should watch out for that.'”
Mirror Mirror: Are You Well? 7:30pm Wednesday & Thursday on 10.