Posted: November 27th, 2013
Week 2 Reader Response
November 1st, 2013
It is interesting to note the attention that the media dedicates to serial killers, and the popular public reception of such news. Indeed, there is a strong connection between people’s fascination with serial killers, in the media, and the real world. Apart from real life serial killers, fictional characters also get much public attention, and some have even created a cult-like following. For instance, after the release of Mr. Brooks directed by Bruce Evans, a cult emerged, in America following Mr. Brooks, the serial Killer, a role that Kevin Costner played effectively, in the movie. Another serial killer film, the Silence of the Lamb under the directorship of Jonathan Demme also received much public attention and won millions of followers across the globe (Utt, Saxon, & Bozman, 1991). It is evident that films or novels use murder, death and violence to captivate the audience. Therefore, violence in movies attracts viewers.
Violence has fascinated human beings for a very long time. Countless stories are available starting with those in the Bible on how people fought and conquered others. People have thus become sadistic and accustomed to heroic stories that involve bloodshed. In particular, men are constantly under advice to toughen up and get even whenever someone crosses them. In fact, it is a relief when a police officer catches a criminal and ruthlessly renders punishment. This is a way to ensure that he or she does not repeat that mistake again. The directors know this and they include such plots in their movies.
Today, many people have developed a fascination with serial killers, whether real ones such as the Night stalker (Richard Ramirez), or fictional ones such as Mr. Brooks and the infamous Dr. Hannibal, in Silence of the Lamb. For instance, Doreen Lioy, an obsessed journalist, married the night stalker, in 1996, while he was awaiting execution. She had vowed to commit suicide on his execution. Fortunately, he died of liver failure before his execution. This shows that public fascination can go beyond mere serial media fascination to the real world. Interestingly, the media recognizes this fascination and uses it to captivate the audience. For instance, in the Silence of the Lamb, Clarice Starling, the lead female star, uses Dr. Hannibal to capture Buffalo Bill, another serial killer on the loose (Utt, Saxon, & Bozman, 1991). She recognizes Hannibal’s obsession with death and uses it to her advantage. Although Hannibal tries to outwit her, she overcomes many obstacles to track down the killer.
The film and entertainment industry seems to understand the growing interest the public has in serial killer shows and films. For decades, serial killer media has been growing at an alarming rate. Novel writers have also had their share of profits, with novels such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo selling more than 70 million copies globally. Currently, violence and murder films seem to be attracting intense attention especially among the youth. For example, in Mr. Brooks, Jane who is the daughter of the serial killer commits a murder in her dorm room. The use of such a young character in a violent episode of the movie is deliberate because it will resonate with the targeted youth market. In 2011, The Silence of the lamb got the number one slot as the greatest 21st century movie. It is no wonder that serial killer films are becoming part of mainstream entertainment. The media industry understands the growing appetite and seems to be working hard to feed the public
One of the reasons for the growing fascination with serial killers is the ability to identify with some of these characters. For instance, Mr. Brooks is a successful white man who receives awards for his business success (Wilson, Costner & Gideon, 2007). Indeed, he cuts the image of a rich yet dangerous person, which tends to capture the imagination of the youth. Dr. Hannibal, in the Silence of the Lamb, is one of the most infamous serial characters globally. Dr. Hannibal represents the educated and intellectual face of serial killers while Mr. Brooks represents the successful, yet evil killer. These two characters achieve more success than a black, poor serial killer does.
The media tends to show that serial killers’ main motivation is not poverty or material possession, but sexual drive. Mr. Brooks enjoys watching his victims have sex as evident in his first victims, a young couple. Additionally, he takes pictures of the victims after the act for his own gratification. On the other hand, Buffalo Bill, the female serial killer, in the Silence of the Lamb kills beautiful women and removes their skin. He does this in an attempt to create a female skin for himself after denial of a trans-gender operation. While people fear and get fascinated with such scenes, it may also help set moral boundaries on what one can or cannot do.
People’s fascination with serial killers goes beyond the news and media shows. Some people take this fascination too far, becoming fans, collectors or even followers of these characters. These people, especially females, even fall in love with serial killers. However, questions regarding the impact of the increasing fascination people have with serial killers remain unanswered
Utt, K., Saxon, E., & Bozman, R. (Producers), and Demme, J. (Director). (1991). The Silence of the Lambs. [Film]. United States. Orion Pictures.
Wilson, J., Costner, K., & Gideon, R (Producers), and Evans, B. (Director). (2007). Mr.
Brooks. [Film]. United States. Relativity Media and Metro-Goldwyn Mayer.
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