I had a really good idea for a title for this post, which is fairly inane in general, but I decided it’s too long to be an effective blog-post title. So I’m using it as a subhead:
(Get it? Cold, because dead.)
Please do not interpret that as me thinking serial killers are funny. They’re not funny, at all. There are very few things less funny, actually, than a serial killer, even if said serial killer wears hilarious costumes and recites lines from Caddyshack while he kills you. Unless the serial killer is the Joker, in which case he might occasionally achieve a sort of amusing insouciance or crack a good one-liner. Freddy Krueger also often elicited a smile or two in the later films, when they decided having him be genuinely terrifying (as he was in the first movie) was getting boring and so turned him into some kind of badly-scarred pedophile Shecky Greene.
(And speaking of pedophiles–boy, this post is just all kinds of light-hearted, isn’t it?–there are new and more horrifying allegations about Jimmy Savile, the BBC celebrity that the British government allowed to molest and abuse hundreds of children for decades while they covered it all up and pretended there was something charming and heartwarming about a man who was literally one of the creepiest and most disgusting creatures who ever walked the planet. Seriously, look at this sicko [I’m only linking to a Google Image search result, because I don’t want pictures of that piece of shit on my blog; also, remember all my links open a new window]–but beware, the mere sight of him could cause you to both vomit and question the sanity of a large number of people. I mean, if a person ever existed who looked more like a twisted pedophile than Jimmy Savile, I don’t know who it was. Jimmy Savile looks like what would happen if Cruella DeVille got triple-teamed by the Child-Killer from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, an evil leprechaun, and Golem, and then the resulting excrescence vomited up all of the evil in its soul, and that vomit took a shit on everything good and happy and fun and loving in the world, and that shit was a cackling, hideous, tackily dressed Jimmy Savile. Seriously, Leatherface would be terrified to look at Jimmy Savile. Buffalo Bill would think Jimmy Savile was just too gross to hang out with. And every day it seems more and more is revealed about Jimmy and his hideous, disgusting cronies and how they loved to wander through children’s wards in hospitals randomly abusing patients and–God, it’s just too hideous to even discuss further.)
And it’s too hideous to discuss further because some crimes just are hideous.
I like true crime shows. I know it’s very fashionable to refer to them as “murder porn,” and there is definitely that aspect to some of them, but at the risk of sounding like some kind of murder porn snob, those aren’t the ones that interest me very much. In fact, I find them kind of offensive (more on that in a second, as it leads into my main point about serial killers). I like watching true crime shows–and reading true crime books, which I’ve done since I was a kid and saw Diane Downs and Ann Rule on Oprah (and by the way SMALL SACRIFICES is still an amazing and chilling book)–because the investigation fascinate me, the clues and the alibis and interviews and tactics and how it all comes together. I do enjoy it when the villain is especially dastardly and overconfident, because it’s fun to see a bad guy’s plots fail, but the crime itself isn’t generally the reason I read true crime. I read it for the plot, I guess you could say, not the gore.
Which may be why, as much as I will happily spend the day watching “48 Hours” (I looove 48 Hours, Dateline, and when they do special episodes of 20/20) or “True Crime with Aphrodite Jones” or “On the Case with Paula Zahn,” and even occasionally a “Nightmare Next Door” or “Snapped” or “Unusual Suspects,” I tend to shy away from the more lurid shows, which kind of seem more like a “Hyuk, look at how a bunch of trashy people got kilt!” or “Daaamn, girl, your murder is sexay!” than an actual serious “Look at how we catch criminals and how hard we work to keep the darkness at bay.” Perhaps that thought says more about me than anyone or anything else, but that doesn’t change the fact that for me the line can be rather thin between fascinatingly twisty and offensively lurid. And for me, the line is almost always crossed when it comes to shows about serial killers.
In a show about a serial killer the serial killer is the star, see; the victims are afterthoughts. Often the investigators are kind of afterthoughts, too. It’s all about the killer: his twisted psyche, his grisly crimes, his facade of normalcy (or not), his travels and burial grounds. And honestly, I don’t care. Most people do not become serial killers because they’re interesting guys to hang around with; they become serial killers because they’re just human shells wrapped around an empty, silent darkness, and honestly even that description makes them seem more interesting than I actually find them. (Especially Gary Ridgeway. For a while last year it seemed like every time I turned on the TV they were showing something about Gary Ridgeway or Gary Ridgeway’s wife or Gary Ridgeway’s truck or Gary Ridgeway’s ski pants or something, as though Gary Ridgeway was somehow the world’s most important person and his actions ought to be studied in as much depth as the Challenger explosion, when really Gary Ridgeway is dull as dirt. Tax forms are more interesting than Gary Ridgeway. Listening to a stranger tell you about their toenails is more interesting than Gary Ridgeway. I’m telling you, Gary Ridgeway = dull.)
But they’re all dull, really. Most serial killers–I’d venture so far as to say pretty much all of them, in fact–are not Hannibal Lecter, Dexter Morgan, or even Patrick Bateman. They’re not smooth and erudite or articulate about their emptiness, killing rude people or other serial killers and serving their bones to other rude people in complicated recipes more like art than food and playing complex, clever games with other killers or FBI behavioral analysts/professors. They tend to just clump around killing people–innocent people–and every time Discovery ID or the Investigation Channel or whatever does a big Serial Killer Week or some new serial killer specials, it makes me wonder if we’re learning how good our investigators are and memorializing the victims, or making further celebrities of some people who deserve no celebrity (that isn’t to say they deserve death or they do not deserve death or anything–I’m making zero statement on our justice system itself, okay?–but what I definitely think is that the reward for slaughtering innocent people should NOT be fame and groupies mailing you panties and cash, and that comes not from the justice system but from the media. Save the panties for Tom Jones and the cash for me, guys, and change the channel). This is true even if they already were celebrities, like Savile, and if the world has learned anything from Savile I hope it is that being a celebrity doesn’t make you a good person–or even one worthy of not being spat upon by leprous monkeys while having their balls shaved with a cheese-grater and then fed to them.
Shows about serial killers make me feel like a voyeur, really, and I don’t like that feeling.
1. Sorry this is so late. I’ve been behind all week. I hate summer so much; I’m barely sleeping because the sun rises three hours after I go to bed, and while my sleepshades help with that they do nothing to shut up the fucking birds right outside our bedroom window.
2. Also, have I mentioned that it’s really hot here? And there’s no A/C? Yeah, it’s hot here. I can’t sleep when it’s hot. I hate the heat.
3. Work, work, working very hard!
4. I think that’s it, I’ll be back sooner than later, and I am still hoping/planning to show you all my First Book Ever.