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Tony Grist

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Murdering Twats [Jun. 3rd, 2010|10:42 am]
Tony Grist
It makes me angry that you can become famous for killing people.

I don't know if the Lake District shooter had fame in mind when he went on his spree, but the guy they're holding for the Bradford murders certainly did when he gave his name to the court as The Crossbow Cannibal.

What a stupid name! It's the sort of name a ten year old would think was cool. I wish the media wouldn't pander to the infantile mindset of such people by taking them at their own valuation- but, of course,  we all love a serial killer. I wish we didn't, but we do.

That's another thing that makes me angry- how our culture fetishizes the big-time murderers, gives them nicknames, writes books about them. I hate how serial killers dominate crime fiction- and how they're always portrayed as infernally clever- mad geniuses pitting their huge brains against the law.

In reality the serial killer is infantile, immature- and usually quite stupid- the sort of guy who thinks Crossbow Cannibal is a cool name.  I see the Lake District shooter is being described as a "quiet man". They usually are. Serial killers are nobodies who think they can big themselves up by killing.

Sad thing is, they're right. That angry little taxi driver who drank too much and liked to holiday in Thailand is famous now. His name (which I refuse to write) is going to live forever.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: steepholm
2010-06-03 10:18 am (UTC)
I'm getting a very inconsistent picture of the Cumbrian guy. People describe him as sociable, fond of a bit of craic, laughing and joking. But then, almost as if they'd remembered what serial killers are meant to be like, they fall in with the script and he becomes "quiet". I wouldn't be surprised to hear soon that "he kept himself to himself."

My pop psychology makes me think "passive aggression gone seriously wrong" rather than "publicity seeker" with this one, but I feel bad even for speculating.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-03 10:47 am (UTC)
Yes, he seems to have been quite a sociable type. He liked a drink, he even had a nickname.

The descriptions of him as "quiet" seem to be coming from his neighbours- which may simply indicate that they didn't know him very well.

I think you're right about the passive aggression.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2010-06-03 11:12 am (UTC)
The latest on the BBC web site certainly seems to suggest that the first few killings were not random and motiveless, but bad temper turned violent.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2010-06-03 07:05 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't be surprised to hear soon that "he kept himself to himself."

Actually, I was a bit behind the curve on that one.
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[User Picture]From: mud_faerie
2010-06-03 11:18 am (UTC)
In full agreement with you once again.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-03 12:35 pm (UTC)
I think the media should now pack up and go away and leave the people of Cumbria to get on with their grieving.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2010-06-03 11:20 am (UTC)
His name (which I refuse to write) is going to live forever.

There was a male student who went on a killing spree some years ago in America who killed a number of female engineering students. In all the feminist accounts of the case, he is deliberately never named in order to deny him the satisfaction of becoming famous.

Re the serial killer in drama, I am currently very displeased with the Radio Times's response to the numerous complaints it has received about the drama Luther. They have published an ingenuous defence which refers to such violence always having been around, mentioning plays like Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, but it forgets that audiences would not be exposed to such violence and cruelty on a nightly basis and I don't recall Shakespeare ever giving the impression that the perpetrators of such acts were in any way to be admired. Neither do the plays dwell lovingly on the terror of the victim held prisoner and tortured.

Sorry, didn't mean to go off on a rant.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-03 12:30 pm (UTC)
I've been following the Radio Times controversy over Luther- and I'm totally with Alison Graham.

I watched the first episode of the show- and then dropped out- not because of the violence- which was relatively mild at that stage- but because I found it silly and formulaic.

Titus is a very early, immature play, and I doubt it would be considered great art if Shakespeare's name wasn't attached. It's the only play in the canon where violence exists for its own sake. If the writer had used King Lear as his example I'd have been more sympathetic- but, then again, to compare Luther with King Lear would have been absurd.

I think violence in art has to be judged on a case by case basis. There are instances where extreme violence is totally justified, and others in which it simply serves to titillate.
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From: mamadar
2010-06-03 03:48 pm (UTC)
I have come across the theory that Titus Andronicus is actually a parody of the kind of gratuitous violence that was fairly common in the works of Shakespeare's contemporaries. The same audiences that enjoyed TA and King Lear and the comedies also enjoyed watching bear-baiting before the play started.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-03 04:26 pm (UTC)
Could be.

On the other hand- as a very new author- he may just have been giving the audience what it wanted.
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[User Picture]From: cluegirl
2010-06-03 12:45 pm (UTC)
It started with Cain, and hasn't significantly broken pattern yet; everybody knows the murderer's name, though they rarely remember those of his victim.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-03 02:29 pm (UTC)
And as various people have pointed out, if you kill on a large enough scale- like Napoleon say- you'll not only be famous but acclaimed as a hero and a genius.
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[User Picture]From: redatt
2010-06-03 01:03 pm (UTC)
I wince every time someone in the media repeats Stephen Griffiths' nom de guerre and won't use it myself, but as I understand it he didn't coin it. It was suggested by someone on Radio 4 last week that he gave that name because it had already been used in the media and I wish I could remember what programme I was listening t at the time so I could double check that!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-03 02:36 pm (UTC)
It sounds like something that could have been invented by one of the red tops.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-03 04:24 pm (UTC)
I didn't see it, but I may have to.

It's odd, the older I get, the less appetite I have for harrowing drama. I guess I no longer need convincing that the world's a horrible place.
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From: jorrocks_j
2010-06-03 09:47 pm (UTC)

Oscar Wilde used to seek out criminals and invite them to dinner.

Never at home, of course: he'd always choose a private room at a fancy restaurant.

I'd like to think he was just doing it for research, but he hated doing research on principal and also apparently got a thrill out of being so intimate with violent felons: "It was like dining with panthers," he wrote.

You know, I've noticed a funny thing about English letters: many apt parodies of famous poems or remarks appear to have been written before the originals were made.

In this case:

I passed by his garden, and marked, with one eye,
How the Owl and the Panther were sharing a pie:
The Panther took pie-crust, and gravy, and meat,
While the Owl had the dish as its share of the treat.
When the pie was all finished, the Owl, as a boon,
Was kindly permitted to pocket the spoon;
While the Panther received knife and fork with a growl,
And concluded the banquet by ---


And in the end--he was.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-04 09:48 am (UTC)

Re: Oscar Wilde used to seek out criminals and invite them to dinner.

I'm very much in two minds about St. Oscar. We wouldn't send him to prison these days for being gay, but we very well might for having sex with under-age boys.

And I've never liked the whining self pity of De Profundis.
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[User Picture]From: chochiyo_sama
2010-06-04 02:20 am (UTC)
You would be amazed (and horrified) by how many of my students choose to do their research projects on serial killers--and more horrifying yet, how many of them seem bedazzled by these inhuman scum to the point of hero worship--not because they killed people but because they were so "smart" and could "get away with it" for so long before getting caught.

It actually makes me feel queasy.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-04 10:00 am (UTC)
Being charitable, I suppose they see these guys as Robin Hood figures.

Serial killers are "smart" in fiction, but hardly ever in real life. If they get away with it it's not because they're clever but because they kill over a wide area or because the police are slow to make the connections. There are no real life Hannibal Lectors.
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[User Picture]From: mokie
2010-06-08 10:33 pm (UTC)
He'll learn soon enough that you can't choose your own nickname--people decide what they're going to call you, and your self-declared handle becomes a joke at your expense.

Serial killers may get lots of books written about them, but once you get past the details, it's always about what a pathetic social reject they were. I haven't heard yet of a criminal who was happy with his true crime portrayals.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-09 08:22 am (UTC)
I steer clear of serial killer porn. It depresses me. And it disturbs me that it's so popular. I prefer my murders to be done by Prosessor Plum in the ball room with the candlestick.
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