VOD film review: 69: The Saga of Danny Hernandez
Ivan Radford | On 17, Jun 2021
Director: Vikram Gandhi
Cast: Danny Hernandez, Vikram Gandhi
Where to watch 69: The Saga of Danny Hernandez online in the UK: Altitude Films
Where do you draw the line between celebrity persona and a real life person? What about the line between investigating a scandal and just giving it more publicity? These interesting questions swim around the surface of 69: The Saga of Danny Hernandez, an intriguing exploration of the notoriety around web celeb Tekashi69.
Also known as “6ix9ine”, he began life as Danny Hernandez, just an ordinary kid from Brooklyn. But Danny suddenly found fame through the internet, thanks to his shocking rap videos that were sensationalist, attention-grabbing and descended into nastily explicit territory. Vikram Gandhi charts the rise of the boy and weaves a web of materialism and ambition that feels timely for the modern online age.
In some ways, the documentary functions as a cautionary tale of crime, guns and drugs, and Gandhi does well to avoid glorifying the dubious figure at its centre, instead deligitamising him as we see Hernandez’s life descend into gangs. But the film never manages to dig that much deeper than merely chronicling the morbid fascination of some people with this divisive figure. The result is a film about what’s missing in someone’s life to fuel such narcissism, but it feels like there’s a gap in the movie too – there’s a lot of potential to ask questions about fame among younger generations today and why people give attention to such people, but the film doesn’t manage to answer them before the end credits arrive, almost leaving you wanting a sequel, if it didn’t mean spending more time shining a spotlight near Danny Hernandez. That the director himself winds up wondering whether he’s just giving Danny more publicity speaks volumes.
69: The Saga of Danny Hernandez is available to rent online at Altitude.Film.