Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Masculinity in Serial Killer Movies

I was quite impressed with the article. I have always been a huge fan of serial killer movies and never really noticed that all the killers were white middle class men. It intrigued me to think that these men were killing as a means to defend their masculinity in the vast numbers of middle class white men. Its strange and yet at the same time it makes sense to think that a man would need to murder in order to feel fulfillment of his masculinity.

I am a huge fan of American Pyscho. The movie always left me feeling as though all of the male characters in that movie were missing something. Each of them worked to maintain their positions in the social elite, yet none did anything that truly identified them as individual and separate. The other male characters around Bateman were completely interchangeable. They were as plain as the business cards they all were obsessed with showing eachother. The fact that Bateman resorted to murder to feel whole and to take apart society finally makes sense. It was his attempt at exemplifying himself against the multitudes of men just like him.

I do not agree however that most serial killers are some sort of sexual deviant. Sexual abuse is not the only catalyst of violent behavior. For some it can simply be a personality quirk that makes murder seem okay and enjoyable. I do admit it can be attributed to most, but not all of the male serial killers. It makes for interesting movie scripts but I would like to see a movie where a serial killer isn't motivated by defending his masculinity. I would like to see a movie where the serial killer is driven by sheer desire of the kill. That would be interesting to see. Creating a cultured man with feral tendencies. Maybe thats the true reason behind some serial killers it is their primal predatorial call for domination. Who knows, but its a thought

I am truly intrigued as to what research says about a female serial killer. It seems to be a topic not many people want to discuss. Is it that women are supposed to represent all that is good and whole in society? Or is it that people do not believe women are capable of committing systematic murders? I am not quite sure and it bothers me. I did a little research on the topic and many of the sites said that women do not often get caught because they have motive and purpose to their murders. Don't male serial killers have motive and purpose to their murders as well? I do understand that in some cases of male v. female serial killers that there are distinctions but is there really that much of a difference?

I would love to see what a writer could do with a serial killer slasher movie that utilizes a female serial killer and other aspects that completely separate it from the general white middle class male based movies. I think it would reveal the taboos that people are so afraid to talk about when it comes to pain and serial murders. There is so much that can be said yet so many people only focus on a small aspect of it.

I find it quite strange that I am this interested in this topic. Why are people so obsessed with death and murder? Sontaug mentioned this in her book and we are greeted with sights of it daily on the tv, in the paper, and through various other sources. What is it about violent deaths that fascinates and captivates an audience. Is it the question of whether you as an individual would ever be capable of such atrocities or is that you just can't seem to pull your eyes away? Or is it even that we enjoy see the horrible things that people can do to each other. I am not quite sure, but I do know I enjoy slasher films and serial killer films. I tend to prefer them over chick flicks and comedies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Wounded Storyteller

I am not quite sure how I feel about this book... I don't know if I like it and I don't know if I hate it. I understand what the author means when he says that a person who has suffered needs to create a story because this is very true. Every person searches for some way to communicate to themselves and to the people around them what their suffering entailed. Its an attempt to find some sort of justification or reason as to why it happened. Yet, there is a recognition that there really isn't a justification for suffering it is just what it is.

I do like how he pointed out that people will not always fully understand another person's story of suffering. Each person can only draw upon their own experience and go from there. It is their interpretations and stories of pain that help them grasp just a little of what another person is going through. You can say in so many different ways that you are in pain, but the other person isn't always going to understand the magnitude of pain you are suffering

I don't exactly agree with the obligation of the sufferer to tell their story. Rather I see it as the sufferer trying to find a reason for why it occurred. It isn't settling to live with the thought that as a human being you are subject to completely meaningless pain. Its an attempt for a person I guess to better grasp on to reality and life rather than fall into a state of constant pain. It would be their survival attempt. If they were to allow themself to become complete victims of pain they would cease to possess what makes them human. They would become part rather than whole. The stories do serve as a sort of phoenix affect. The individual wants to be reborn from the experience

Monday, October 20, 2008


I apologize about the tardiness of my reply to the movie, but every time I sat down to write about it I just couldn't find any way to not get too upset. I have to be honest I got back from class that night and all I could think about was my friends that are currently in Iraq and how I hope they are never taken prisoner because I know the end result of that situation would be something horrific. Thoughts like this plagued me for the rest of the week and throughout this weekend. I just couldn't get the pictures of what was done to the Iraqi prisoners out of my head either. Everything just made me sick to my stomach and I wanted to do anything and everything to not think about the movie. Yet, it kept seeping into my thoughts

I am always amazed as to what people can do when put in a situation that they perceive a threat and are also given a lot of power as well. So many of the individuals involved kept saying that wasn't the person I am now, I don't know who that person was. I feel as though they are saying that as an attempt to try to separate themselves from the deeds they had committed and witnessed against the Iraqi detainees. The fact of the matter is that it was them. These people were just surprised and ashamed of what they were capable of. Every person is capable of doing something horrible to another person, I guess it was these soldiers defining moment of what they individually were capable of.

While I can feel bad for them that they took the rap for everything that went on in Iraq at the same time these individuals are just as responsible for their actions as the people who delivered the orders in the first place. There is a point where a member of the military can say to their superior that they will not follow an order because it is morally wrong or against military law. None of these individuals made an effort to not become part of the pattern of torture in Abe Ghraib. Rather, they helped to continue it.

I am not surprised in the least how the higher ranked officers addressed the new MP's coming into the prison. Rather than let the MP's get acclimated to the environment and walk in prepared to do their job the higher officers instilled in every member a sense of fear of the inmates being held. They immediately made an effort to dehumanize the individuals in the prison. It was as if they knew the steps that needed to be taken to get regular "moral" human beings to torture other people. Not every person is immediately equipped to handle torturing another person and feel nothing about it. These officers were able to manipulate the MP's and the situation to "train" the newbies in their patterns of violence. They wanted the newbies to be afraid so they would lash out before they took a rational approach. This sickens me in so many ways.

I am still completely unamazed by the fact only one of the higher ranking officials was punished for the actions that took place. The military has a history of taking care if its own. The enlisted men or the lower ranking officers haven't been involved in the system long enough to be seen as any one of value. They are disposable in times of controversy as was seen when the pictures were released to the public. Much of the public that looked into the incident at Abu Ghriab was astounded that the MPs were the only ones who got punished, but this is not an uncommon occurrence. The administration and the leaders of the military want to keep the people who can get them the most information and the best public response. In this case it was the individuals who issued the torture orders because supposedly they were retrieving information of "world importance". Also what people fail to recognize that if a higher ranked official was fired or held on charges it would be a much larger public embarrassment then just a lowly grunt or MP. The dismissal or punishment of a higher ranked officer would mean the military and in turn the administration was admitting that they were behind the orders of torture. This would cause a huge change in their influence and standing with the public. So, they got rid of the "lowly" as a sacrifice for the whole. It was made to seem these people took these actions on their own rather than following orders. Just a common occurrence in the military nothing new.

This raises the question when is torture okay? I can honestly say I don't know. I know if ever I was put in a situation where I had a choice between saving a life by torturing an individual for information I would. I feel horrible admitting that but its true. If I were pushed to such an extreme I would do it, and I think almost everyone would. Torture is nothing new in war and even in peace times. It has and always will be a method of gaining information. Yet, this doesn't make it okay. Rather, it just reveals how fear and power can cause the worst parts of humanity to be revealed. One would hope that our country would be above and beyond such practices, but as we saw in the movie we are no better than the third world country we are fighting.