“I spoke to Waters, who has since retired from the police, having seen him praise The Book of Matt on social media. “I believe to this day that McKinney and Henderson were trying to find Matthew’s house so they could steal his drugs. It was fairly well known in the Laramie community that McKinney wouldn’t be one that was striking out of a sense of homophobia. Some of the officers I worked with had caught him in a sexual act with another man, so it didn’t fit – none of that made any sense.”
But when Matthew’s friends Walt Boulden and Alex Trout heard of the attack they rushed to the hospital. They contacted the Associated Press and a number of local gay organisations that same day. Boulden, a 46-year-old college instructor who says he was the last person to talk to Matthew before he met McKinney and Henderson, linked the attack to Wyoming legislature’s failure to pass a hate-crimes bill. Boulden later said the assault was identified as a hate crime by a policeman.
Stephen Jimenez is an award-winning journalist and gay man. So why has he put such time and effort into attempting to prove that Matthew’s murder was not a hate crime, especially as it has seen him accused of being an ally to the rightwing Christian fundamentalists who deny the reality of homophobia?
“The view was that homophobic rednecks walked into a bar and saw an obviously gay man with money and targeted him and beat him to death for that reason,” says Jimenez. “But that isn’t what happened. Nothing in this book takes away from the iniquity and brutality of the crime or the culpability of his murderers, but we owe Matthew and other young men like him the truth.”
“First of all, everyone knows that saying anything overtly racist in front of strangers is totally taboo. So the inhibitions to participation in this insane activity are already pretty great. Even so, most of these kids are not new to conversations about race; the majority of them are students of color, including loads of junior college transfers, student parents, vets, and a smattering of white kids, mostly freshmen. Of course some are just scared of speaking in front of so many people, no matter what the topic.
So I cajole a few of them into “Cracker” and “Red Neck.” We can usually get to “Hillbilly” or “Trailer Trash” or “White Trash,” possibly even “Peckerwood,” before folks recognize the “Cletus the slack-jawed yokel” pattern of class discrimination here. And being that we are at a top ranked west coast university, not only do we all share basic middle class aspirations, but we can feel pretty safe in the fact that there are no “Red Necks” here to insult.”
“In his self-conscious horror pastiche/homage Cabin in the Wood, Joss Whedon lampooned the slasher movie audience’s sadistic appetite for watching pretty, vacant young things terrorized and hacked up. The movie presents this generic convention as a seasonal sacrificial ritual, designed to pacify Lovecraftian elder-gods. After Fatal Attraction, Hollywood’s eldritch gods – or any rate, its ticket-buying public – wanted to see picture perfect yuppies put through the ringer. As Dominic Curry points out, the cycle largely bifurcated into erotic thrillers and _____ from Hell movies. In the latter category, there was a Nanny from Hell (The Hand that Rocks the Cradle), a Flatmate/Tenant from Hell (Single White Female, Pacific Heights), a Secretary from Hell (The Temp), various Lolita temptresses from Hell (The Crush/Poison Ivy), and on, and on. I guess that in between the Cold War and War on Terror, we needed something to be frightened of; in the absence of clearly defined ideological threats, people from ordinary walks of life Who Happen to Be Psychopaths from Hell! had to fill the gap. Don’t let them into your home! The appetite for yuppie suffering had its watershed in 1992, the year that saw the release of The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Single White Female, and Unlawful Entry. I maintain a certain nostalgic fondness for these torrid, schlocky entertainments. They were so pervasive when I was growing up that some aspect of my view of the adult world almost felt like it was filtered through their cinematic world of exquisite kitchens and open plan apartments – this gleaming, aspirational world which was always threatened by the incursion of sexual temptation and psychopathic peril.”
“If you were to carefully calibrate your fear of being murdered according to statistics, you should be 12 times as afraid of your family members as of serial killers. Less than one percent of murders in any given year are committed by serial killers, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s report on serial murder; in 2012, 12.5 percent of murders were committed by victims’ family members.
Sadly, tales of domestic violence zoom in and out of the news so frequently that they rarely capture the public’s attention, and when they do, they don’t hold it for long. Meanwhile, Gacy’s story, along with those of other serial killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and David Berkowitz, are remembered even decades later: They’re so well-known that we continue to hear casual references to them in pop culture. For example, in Katy Perry’s recent song “Dark Horse,” Juicy J raps, “She’ll eat your heart out/like Jeffrey Dahmer.” Dahmer, who was known for cannibalizing his victims, committed his crimes between 1978 and 1991, and was killed in prison in 1994, nearly 20 years before “Dark Horse” was released.
Juicy J can drop that tasteless reference and know it will be understood because serial killers are “still very much a part of our culture,” Penman says.”
“The neutral reception of culture denies the real concrete reality of the culture industry. Heinz Steinert wrote: “It (culture industry)is a form of domination that reaches deep into what people know about society and world. It is domination not by fear and repression in the first place but by subtly determining what and how we know about the world. Its center is the cult of the factual.” It is a cultural production of commodified knowledge, whose appeal is always to the authority of statistical or measured proofs. Popularity is often taken as if it occurs in a vacuum. If a film is hard to see because distribution is limited, it already is marked as underground or difficult. The entire structure of *entertainment* is involved in creating audience attitude. As technology now increasingly allows a mastery of access … one can view a film whenever one likes on his computer or even cell phone, the audience is provided with a sense of specialness. Of ownership. I’ve written before about the sense of being an insider. A peak behind the scenes of the making of a popular film or TV show invites the audience to feel unique and privileged. Steinert calls this a “false privilege”. The rise of *reality TV shows* is another form of this insider construct. The specialness is linked, in an oddly contradictory way, to identification with other privileged shoppers of cultural product. There is the manufacture of a sense of ‘belonging’.
The audience today is encouraged to perceive their attention as empowerment. The advertisers and network and studio want them to view their product. Neilsen ratings are published throughout the season, box office figures are published, and marketing targets the public by appealing to their wisdom, by critiquing their profile, their particular market niche. All of this shapes how the individual sees the narrative, or artwork. It is not all that different from the appeal of astrology columns or click bait polls that posit if YOU were a Western movie, which one would you be?”