Interesting Email Exchange
From A. Friend: As the last Grissom episode plays on
I’m watching the most recent two eps of CSI, the ones surrounding
Grissom’s departure. I hate CSI, but after watching the 1986 film
_Manhunter_ I became a big fan of William Petersen’s acting. These are
his departing eps, and I figured I’d watch them.
Of course, it has to go out on a bang. They’ve brought in an excellent
actor to play a serial killer — unfortunately, they haven’t given this
excellent actor much to work with. Honestly, the portrayal makes me
sick: not that the character is so revolting, but that he is portrayed
as a creepy figure of intellectual evil.
In other words, not at all like a real serial.
I wonder when Hollywood is going to wake up. The real horror about
serials isn’t that they’re creepy figures of intellectual evil; it’s
that ninety-nine percent of the time they appear as normal as you or me.
They also tend not to be evil geniuses; while they’re often more
intelligent than the norm, they don’t follow the genius prototype.
I’ve been disgusted — utterly disgusted — by Hollywood’s embrace of
the serial killer as the apotheosis of evil. If you’re going to take
the real extreme in human evil and turn it into a fictional portrayal of
the same, shouldn’t the fictional portrayal at least bear some
similarity to the real material?
Incidentally, if you want to see an excellent portrayal of a
super-intelligent serial killer, watch _Manhunter_. It’s the first film
appearance of Hannibal Lecter. Brian Cox plays him, not Anthony
Hopkins. Cox portrays him as a very normal, intelligent, charming guy,
up until he’s talking to someone he respects — at which point he drops
the veneer and becomes an intelligent, amoral sociopath who sees no
point in either hiding it or glorifying it. It’s a chilling portrayal,
all the moreso because I can believe it.
I am watching too right now as I am about to manage a post on aspergers
and Gary McKinnon. I am there with you though on the “evil genius”
serial killer thing that Hollywood puts out.
Obviously you saw my little tidbits not too long before I quit the LJ
from my friends down in Quantico. Yeah, it’s all about the creepy evil
genius and not so much about the reality of sexual sadists and
sociopaths. I liken the Hollywood version to the utter lack of
credibility they have where hacking is concerned too.
Of course in the Lecter cycle (books) he was much more dimensional than
in the movies, but I must admit that I liked the way Hopkins played him.
As for the Manhunter, I can say that it sits in my DVD collection as a
part of the trinity. I was more creeped out by “Hannibal” than the
others though as Lecter just seemed completely unhinged. Of course I had
read all the books, so I read much more into things.
I can also one up you on the Peterson thing.. Check out “To Live And Die
In L.A.” He and Willem Defoe do a bang up job in that one. It’s all
about a counterfeiter and a cop chasing him… But I digress…
I have had an interest in the field of psychological “profiling” as the
FBI (John Douglas and the BSU which he founded) since the time that I
first read Silence just before the film hit. Though I have never taken
any official courses, I have had a long and abiding desire to read all I
could on the subject from the actual folks doing the work. It is truly
nothing like anything in Hollywood except for one exception.
In the beginning episode of Millennium, Frank Black makes a statement in
Frank: I see what the killer sees.
Bletcher: What, like a psychic?
Frank: No. I put myself in his head. I become the thing we fear the
Frank: I become capability. I become the horror– what we know we can
become only in our heart of darkness. It’s my gift. It’s my curse.
That’s why I retired.
>From what I have gleaned from Douglas at least, this comes the closest
at times to what he did at least. You get into the mindset of the
killer. Look at why they do the things they do. Signatures that they are
laying out by wrote, even if they are doing so overtly they do so out of
compulsion. And that is what serial homicide is, compulsion by a
diseased mind. Which, as you might remember comes through in the
conversation of Wil and Lecter in Manhunter.
Will Graham: I know that I’m not smarter than you.
Doctor Hannibal Lecktor: Then how did you catch me?
Will Graham: You had disadvantages.
Doctor Hannibal Lecktor: What disadvantages?
Will Graham: You’re insane.
Lastly, I think Hollywood finally did get one movie about a serial
killer right. That movie was “Monster” about Aileen Wournos. I think it
captured much of her history as it was cobbled together. She was more a
spree killer though, so, it’s not quite the same. In her case too, there
was a great deal of abuse that triggered the start of her MO. Partly a
way to take control of her life as well as a means to an end to survive.
All in all, I am there with you man.