Wait! Don't Mickey and Mallory Always Leave One Person Alive to Tell the Tale?

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Producer/blogger Jane Hamsher says of Cho's tapes:

I remember during Columbine there were measures taken to assure that the gunmen's videos and writings didn't get released to the public, and that they did not become cult heros as a result of their actions. It seemed like a bit of decency amidst the mayhem. I really don't know what's to be gained journalistically by broadcasting the killer's videos other than a ratings bonanza, but it seems quite ghoulish.

Byron York, who's usually a master at plucking icky things from the blogosphere, says:

Hamsher was a Hollywood producer before she began blogging. Her best-known credit was Natural Born Killers.

York clearly means this as a gotcha—take that, Hollywood exploitation junkie Jane Hamsher! But wasn't the self-important point of Natural Born Killers that the media created serial killers by slathering them with attention? It was!

Journalist Wayne Gale (Downey) hosts a show called 'American Maniacs', profiling serial killers in a blatantly sensationalist way. Various clips of his program on Mickey and Mallory are shown, with Gale sounding outraged as he details the pair's crimes, although off-air he clearly regards their crimes as a fantastic way of boosting his show's ratings. It is Gale who is mostly responsible for elevating Mickey and Mallory into heroes, with his show featuring interviews with people expressing their admiration for the mass-killers as if they were film stars.

Makes it a little odd that Hamsher was so dedicated to beating Joe Lieberman, actually. This is a fairly Liebermanesque point.

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  1. I always really liked that movie. But now, Woody Harrelson creeps the lving shit out of me. Of course, maybe that has nothing to do with NBK…

  2. Reason writers, would it kill you to admit that there is at least some connection between an individual’s thoughts and actions and the messages of the culture in which he lives?

    People who make the argument that violent media contributes to real-life violence are not saying that watching a movie about murder turns people into murderers.

    You guys seem smart enough to realize this, yet instead of addressing the actual issue you give us a bunch of easily toppled straw men.

  3. would it kill you to admit that there is at least some connection between an individual’s thoughts and actions and the messages of the culture in which he lives?

    When did anybody at Reason deny that?

  4. You guys seem smart enough to realize this, yet instead of addressing the actual issue you give us a bunch of easily toppled straw men.

    Really they just like to throw you a bone now and then.

  5. Innuendo –

    I don’t really think that acknowledging that point makes any difference, so I’m happy to acknowledge it if that will make you feel better.

    General Post –

    I think NBK could actually have been a decent movie instead of a total disaster if Stone had put the crack pipe down long enough to film it. The script actually isn’t that bad; it’s just buried under some of the most absurd directing choices imaginable.

  6. So topple away.

  7. Natural Born Killers was a piece of shit.

  8. That Cho video does sound like something one of these Hollywood royals would write and film.

    I suspect that one of them will be doing a film about it in less than 24 mos. It has all of the trappings of their little Anarchist buddies at protest marches. Class struggle became class warfare, self imposed outcasting, English department guy who is ‘too smart’ to talk to others, all wrapped up in a little surburbanite.

    You know, just like Bill Ayres and the rest of those SDS freaks from the 60s/70s.

  9. “People who make the argument that violent media contributes to real-life violence are not saying that watching a movie about murder turns people into murderers.”

    No, they’re just asserting something they lack any real proof of and asking for censorship based on it.

  10. I agree Natrural Born Killers was crap. A waste of an hour and a half of my life.

  11. I never even finished Natural Born Killers. I got bored when Woody was smoking the peyote or some shit.

  12. But now, Woody Harrelson creeps the lving shit out of me.

    Why is that ISD? After People vs Larry Flint and the documentary Grass, as well as some other snippets here and there, I’ve considered Woody a minor libertarian celebrity hero.

  13. Is Woody wearing a maroon shirt in that picture, or is that his skin?

    And yeah, Natural Born Killers sucked.

  14. Natural Born Killers was a terrible movie and claiming that its point was “that the media created serial killers by slathering them with attention?” is about as accurate as saying that a porn film’s point is to show the price of free love just because the protagonist falls and love and gets married at the end of the film. Natural Born Killers was a terrible exploitation flick that was made specifically to capitalize on people’s voyeurism for violence. The whole “this is a commentary on the media and serial killers” was just an excuse to make an exploitation film. Fortunately, it got completely upstaged by a much better made and honest exploitation film, Pulp Fiction.

  15. Wow…I must have terrible taste in movies. Apparently everyone in the world hated NBK. And, I don’t dislike Woody Harrelson. I like most of his movies I’ve seen, and from what I’ve read about him, he seems like a pretty cool guy. Theres just something about his appearance that…well, if I ran into him in a dark alley, I would probably shit myself.

  16. It’s a fair bit of media criticism. In a perfect world, the killer’s debris would be burned instead of published. By publishing, NBC is making itself complicit, albeit in a small way, in the crime. Of course, if NBC hadn’t published, somebody else would have.

  17. Is NBC planning to donate all profits allocatable to the Cho material to some worthy cause? Perhaps Senators Clinton and Obama can co-sponsor a windfall profits tax bill to take care of this sort of situation.

    Maybe NBC will send checks to the families of the victims; I’m holding my breath.

  18. John,
    That reminds me of this one morning I was eating my eggs and toast, when the tail my roommate was banging at the time ambled into the kitchen, naked from the waist up. I watched as she poured herself a cup of coffee, walked over and sat down opposite me, lit a cigarette, and then broke the silence; STOP STARRING AT MY TITS!

  19. You shouldn’t leer at your mother, Warren. It’s impolite.

  20. If the Columbine killers had had the foresight to send soem stuff to a news outlet it would have been aired no doubt. The difference is that the colombine guys were just assholes while Cho was batshit crazy.

  21. It is possible to be saddened, dismayed or angered by the judgement-free glorification of violence in entertainment even if you don’t think government has any place in regulating it. It’s also possible, outside a rarefied world of all-or-nothing, reductionist political philosophies, to oppose some of a candidate’s or party’s positions while agreeing with others and still manage to cast a vote.

    Anyhow even a libertarian writer working for an unprofitable, heavily subsidized libertarian magazine might understand it when put this way: It is possible to oppose federal control of highways and still think glistening, muscular Roarkian private owners of highways would be within their rights and be acting rationally to impose and enforce speed limits.

  22. I love Woody, it’s Juliette Lewis who creeps me out. That bit with the finger in Cape Fear haunts my soul.

    NBK was a terrible, hypocritical, incoherent waste of a movie. It only contributed to the culture it was trying to decry, and is fetishized by exactly the sort of people it was trying to critique. Way to go, crack pipe.

  23. Natural Born Killers sucked. I have spoken.

    As for Woody Harrelson, I haven’t liked him since he “replaced” Coach. Bastard. I’d have preferred some sort of animated Coach-like character to Woody. I just saw him (Harrelson, that is) in A Scanner Darkly, incidentally.

  24. I’m waiting to see which off-Broadway theatre company has the balls to launch the inaugural staging of Richard McBeef.

  25. Piling on, but NBK was the only movie I’ve ever walked out of. My comment at the time was, “If I wanted to watch a director masturbate for two hours, I’d rent some porn.” Horrible movie, made worse in that it did have some interesting ideas about violence and the media’s encouragment of same.

    I don’t like the airing of this psychopath’s writings and videos. I place it in a similar category to the talk about ranking this massacre with others, as though we were talking about high scores on Counterstrike. I think it’s unhealthy and encourages, however slightly, other losers, to act similarly and get some recognition for their wretched lives. Burn this guy’s writings, videos and his corpse, and run then all down the sewer.

    I like P Brooks’s idea of NBC donating its profits, from its exclusive display of this garbage, to the victims of this tragedy.

  26. Burn this guy’s writings, videos and his corpse, and run then all down the sewer.

    I can’t agree with that at all. I’d say “book burning” is always a bad idea. There may be negative consequences to making his insane ramblings available to the public, but I think they are outweighed by the benefits of getting a peek into his troubled mind. In any case, even if they are not made public, I think it would be a big mistake to destroy them.

  27. I can’t agree with that at all. I’d say “book burning” is always a bad idea. There may be negative consequences to making his insane ramblings available to the public, but I think they are outweighed by the benefits of getting a peek into his troubled mind.

    This whole stunt was in the hope that we would get a look into his “troubled mind”. We’re playing into his wishes and giving every other publicity seeking loser out there hope that a world that could care less about them while they’re alive will read their writings and try to psychoanalyze them after they’re dead.

  28. Burn this guy’s writings, videos and his corpse, and run then all down the sewer.

    Amen.

  29. No need to destroy his various writings and video, but no need to look at them, either, unless you’re getting your MD or PhD in psychology. I’m intentionally ignoring the evil bastard–don’t want to know anything about him, not going to remember his name.

  30. Here’s an interesting legal question: could NBC conceivably be charged with being an accessory to the crime? Arguably the killer’s media materials, which were meant to be published, were part of the overall criminal plan. And helping with any part of a crime, can be a crime.

  31. No need to destroy his various writings and video, but no need to look at them, either, unless you’re getting your MD or PhD in psychology. I’m intentionally ignoring the evil bastard

    A more nuanced approach than mine, and upon reflection, a better one. Pro Liberate’s approach strikes a much better balance of discouraging prurience versus making the materials available for scholarly research.

    Congratuations on your upcoming wedding, BTW.

    Max, no. NBC did not assist in the planning or execution of the crime; they’re just profiting after the fact. I doubt they’re even required to disgorge profits, any more than Reason is required to disgorge for having many of the same materials on their site.

  32. Max, no. NBC did not assist in the planning or execution of the crime; they’re just profiting after the fact.

    I don’t think it’s quite that cut and dried. Foreknowledge is not necessarily required to be guilty of assisting a criminal scheme.

    The fact that the killer mailed the materials in the middle of committing the crime suggests that he viewed their publication as integral to the crime.

  33. Max, which criminal scheme are you suggesting NBC assisted in after the fact? Murder? Obstruction of justice? The killer’s belief of what NBC would or would not publish does not implicate NBC in any wrongdoing. The killer believed a lot of weird things, with no resemblence to reality.

  34. which criminal scheme are you suggesting NBC assisted in after the fact? Murder?

    The criminal scheme which included murder and mailing the media materials.

    If you accept the premise that the publication of the media materials was integral to the murder plot, then arguably NBC assisted (after the fact) in the murder plot.

  35. That’s a stretch, and you’re hovering dangerously close to prior restraint, which is strongly disfavored in our system of jurisprudence. It might be different if, say, NBC knew that he’d embedded a message in his videos to agents around the country to kill more people or something.

  36. Max,

    Show me a statute that you think NBC has violated, and the actions of NBC that equal that violation.

    To be considered an accessory after the fact in Virginia, the Commonwealth must prove three elements: that the defendant (1) “receive[d], relieve[d], comfort[ed] or assist[ed]” a felon (2) after knowing that the felon was guilty of committing a completed felony and (3) that the felony was, in fact, completed. See Manley v. Commonwealth, 222 Va. 642, 644, 283 S.E.2d 207, 208 (1981)

    Not having Westlaw at this time, I cannot confirm that Virginia law restricts the first clause of that definition to actions to help the felon avoid prosecution for his successfully completed felony.

    That is the case in the analogous Federal accessory after the fact Statute 18 U.S.C. 3, “Whoever, knowing that an offense against the United States has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial or punishment, (emphasis added) is an accessory after the fact.”

    I have another engagement to get to, so I will leave it to others to demonstrate why NBC does not satisfy the definition of principal, co-principal, conspirator, aider/abetter, or accessory before the fact.

    Thank you though, for forcing me to actually think it through. It’s been awhile since my CrimLaw class.

  37. “The whole “this is a commentary on the media and serial killers” was just an excuse to make an exploitation film. Fortunately, it got completely upstaged by a much better made and honest exploitation film, Pulp Fiction.”

    Interestingly, Tarantino wrote the original screenplay for NBK. In fact, the two characters robbing the diner at the beginning and end of Pulp Fiction are essentially another incarnation of Mickey and Mallory, who in Tarantino’s version were supposed to be a normal married couple who decided to go on a killing spree as opposed to mentally disturbed psychos with histories of abuse.

    Tarantino so disliked what Oliver Stone did to his story that he publicly disowned it and requested his name be removed from the screenwriting credit.

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