‘Injustice porn’ like Making a Murder and Serial celebrates men who kill and abuse women

Yet feminist critics of this new entertainment genre are missing in action

We are in the middle of what, for lack of a better description, I will call a radical feminist moment. Not a day goes by without some poor soul being shamed on the internet for a multitude of sins ranging from mansplaining and manspreading to not fully supporting affirmative consent policies or depriving women of jobs in the gaming industry.

Yet right in the middle of this media-fuelled, girl-power moment, something inexplicable has happened. A new favourite entertainment genre — let’s call it “injustice porn” — has emerged that celebrates the men who kill and abuse women.

Funnily enough, the usual feminist suspects have next to nothing to say about injustice porn’s woman problem. And even weirder, the genre’s most recent hits — the 2014 podcast Serial and the 2015 Netflix documentary series, Making a Murderer — are produced and directed by women who systematically minimize, dismiss and ignore crimes against women.

The result of our current over-fixation on things like everyday sexism and microaggressions has been not just to turn the trivial into the supposedly important but the inverse as well — it’s made the important trivial.

Thus when Steven Avery douses a cat and gasoline and throws it on a fire to watch it suffer, the directors of Making a Murderer suggest their protagonist was just goofing around and the cat mistakenly fell in the fire. Adding insult to injury, online apologists explain that this is how rural folk treat animals.

10 Questions about Making a Murderer

Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction medicine specialist, pointed out on the Reasonable Doubt podcast that Steven Avery looks like he suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome, but that doesn’t fit the lovable-Avery-clan narrative (Photo: courtesy of Netflix)

Likewise, when Adnan Syed, the hero of Serial, writes “I’m going to kill” on a break-up note written to him by his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, journalist Sarah Koenig dismisses it as a “a detail you’d find in a cheesy detective novel” and a “stray thing” that could be meaningless. Never mind that 18-year-old Lee actually ended up murdered, her body dumped and half buried in a Baltimore park. Koenig can’t even be bothered to ask Syed about the note.

The Serial journalist also managed to overlook the fact that Hae asked a teacher to help her hide from Adnan and that, in her diary, she described her ex-boyfriend’s possessiveness as a problem, a direct contradiction of what was said on the podcast.  Yet despite Koenig’s consistent minimization of incidents that are classic warning signs of intimate partner violence, there has, in almost a year and a half, not been one serious feminist critique of in the mainstream US media. (Yes, early on a couple of Brits expressed shock, but they were pretty much ignored and then forgotten.) Instead, Serial won the prized Peabody Award for excellence in broadcast journalism.

Screenshot 2016-01-10 at 1.31.35 PM

Hae Min Lee wrote a break-up note to Adnan Syed telling him to move on, accept her decision to end their relationship, and “hate me if you will”

 

Adnan Syed I'm going to kill note

Adnan Syed wrote “I’m going to kill” on the back of the note, which his supporters variously dismiss as a “stray thing” and so much teenage drama

Now, injustice porn history is repeating itself with Making a Murderer. The directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos leave out key evidence about Avery’s possible guilt and history of violence against women. They never explain why he asked specifically for Teresa Halbach, the 25 year old woman he was convicted of murdering, to come to the Avery salvage yard and photograph his sister’s car. They fail to mention how he had answered the door in a towel on one of her previous work visits. Nor do they acknowledge that Avery used *67, which blocks the callers’ name, to phone her twice on the day she disappeared.

The filmmakers also portray Avery’s parents as kindly homespun hillbillies, showing his father tending to his garden and his mother spending years fighting to get her son out of jail. They skip over the fact that Avery looks like he might have fetal alcohol syndrome and don’t bother to mention that all three of Avery brothers have criminal records including multiple charges for assaulting women.

Older brother Charles was charged and acquitted of sexual assault in 1988. And then in 1999, his ex-wife accused him of sexual assault and wrapping a phone cord around her neck. Along the way, he pled guilty to disorderly conduct. Younger brother Earl pleaded no contest to sexual assault and two different sets of battery charges. He was also charged with sexually assaulting his two daughters.

As a result of these omissions — apparently no big deal in injustice porn land — the abusive and dysfunctional Avery family has developed quite the internet fan following. Stop by Reddit’s Making a Murderer forum and you can participate in threads entitled: Anyone else wanna give Steve Avery’s mom a big hug?, “I know you like lettuce.” – The incredibly endearing Allan Avery” and What can we do to help the Avery family?

In contrast, family and friends of the victim have been subject to internet abuse based on their treatment in Making a Murderer. “Mike Halbach seems awfully creepy,” tweets Kinsey Schofielda tv personality and journalist  to her 286,000 Twitter followers.

Screenshot 2016-01-10 at 9.19.25 AM

“My “#MikeHalbach is the worst” tweet is still getting likes. I’m so happy people agree. Mike…you are the worst. #MakingAMurderer,” boasts Seth Lieber, who describes himself as an Actors’ Equity member.

Screenshot 2016-01-10 at 9.21.51 AM

Empathy is not a requirement for injustice porn fans

While the filmmakers aren’t responsible for every idiot on the internet, this reaction was completely predictable. Ricciardi and Demos treated Mike Halbach, Teresa’s brother and the family spokesman, unconscionably. Every time he appears, he’s made to say something that’s just been carefully debunked for the audience. From his very first quote, about how the process of grieving his sister might take days (yes, days!), the directors never miss an opportunity to make him look bad. Halbach doesn’t get so much as one sympathetic quote. The only thing the filmmakers don’t do is play spooky music whenever he appears.

Such are the requirements of injustice porn. When the convicted man is your protagonist, the audience requires and will find someone to witch hunt. After Serial ended, Syed’s advocate-in-chief, Rabia Chaudry, joined up with two other lawyers to start the Undisclosed podcast, which, since its inception, has produced one conspiracy theory after another, smearing a long list of people along the way.

Their friend and fellow Serial-obsessed podcaster Bob Ruff devoted show after 2015 show to innuendo and unfounded accusations that Don, the guy Hae dated after she dumped Adnan, was a far more likely killer even though he had something very important that Adnan didn’t — an alibi.

Nor is Injustice porn kind to victims although it often tries to disguise this with hashtags like #JusticeforHae #FreeAdnan, while ignoring the fact that freeing remorseless Adnan would be about the biggest injustice possible for Hae.

Screenshot 2016-01-10 at 9.32.10 AM

Injustice porn fans turn the female victims into props designed to support the most ludicrous and offensive theories. For the purpose of finding her fantasy, anyone-but-Adnan killer, Rabia Chaudry suggested Hae, who took only the occasional puff of pot, was a weed smoker with a big enough habit that she would be visiting shady drug dealers after school, which was how she got killed. Hashtag victim blaming.

In a related vein, Making a Murderer uses footage of Teresa Halbach, talking about what would happen if she were to die, without putting it in context, namely that it was a university video project. As a result, Teresa’s mental health has been questioned and it’s been suggested she might have killed herself although how that would cause her cremains to end up in the Avery salvage yard is never explained. Hashtag more victim blaming.

Yet another fact that Making a Murderer withholds from its audience is that the people Steven Avery’s lawyers would have thrown under the bus — had the judge allowed the defence to name alternate suspects — were his two brothers, his nephew and brother-in-law. That was an inconvenient truth that didn’t fit the adorable Averys narrative and would have taken some explaining. Why bother when it was so much easier just to make Teresa’s brother and ex-boyfriend look bad and serve them up for the online lynch mob?

Essentially, the only reason the filmmakers were able to so successfully mythologize the Averys is because, in 1985, Steven Avery was wrongfully convicted of rape, a crime for which he was exonerated by DNA testing after spending 18 years in jail. The wrongful conviction was a result of tunnel vision on the part of the police, a mishandled identification process for the accused assailant, and the victim’s compelling yet mistaken testimony that it was Avery who had raped and viciously assaulted her. After he was finally released from jail, Avery sued the county for $36 million, but just as it looked like he was about to receive a fat settlement, he was arrested again for the murder of Teresa Halbach. Like all wrongful convictions, it’s a shocking tale — yet something of a challenge for Third Wave feminists preaching that the victim must always be believed.

None of this is to deny that Ricciardi and Demos make a convincing argument that some of the evidence used against Avery in the murder charge might have been planted. And it’s  also hard to disagree with their conclusion that Avery’s 16-year-old cousin was wrongfully charged and convicted, failed by everyone, including his lawyers, at every step of the way. As for Steven Avery himself, I have no idea whether he did it or not. But like his lawyers, I believe that whoever did kill Teresa Halbach was associated with the salvage yard.

In this respect Making a Murderer is very different from Serial, where there was — as the transcripts for Adnan’s trial and the police files of investigation clearly demonstrate — no miscarriage of justice. The prosecutor Kevin Urick was half right when he described the killing of Hae Min Lee as  “pretty much a run-of-the-mill domestic violence murder.”

Where he was wrong however was in his failure to understand that there is indeed a mystery at the heart of Serial. It’s just that it has nothing to do with Adnan Syed, whose unoriginal motive and story are as old as time. What made Serial a mystery was the presence of Jay, a Shakespearean character, who first goes along with Syed, becoming an accessory after the fact to murder, but later confesses his crime to police. His testimony sends Syed to jail for life plus 30, and left every Serial listener puzzling and arguing over why he did what he did.

The post conviction relief hearing recently granted to Syed and coming up in February is the exploitation of a legal loophole and most likely the result of the publicity the podcast generated. The defence is contending that Syed’s counsel was ineffective because she failed to contact Asia McLain, who was presented in the first episode of Serial, entitled The Alibi, as the witness who could have exonerated Adnan had his lawyer done her job. Never mind that Asia’s a total flake who appears to have her alibi days mixed up, she was part of the false groundwork Sarah Koenig laid to convince the audience that something was not quite right about the Syed case and that if they wanted to find out the truth, they would need to accompany her on her emotionally manipulative podcast journey.

The promise was not kept, however. Koenig copped out and never provided the truth. Her “I nurse doubt” cri de coeur was V.2014 of “if the glove don’t fit you must acquit.” Just like race beat out gender two decades ago at the OJ trial, allowing a wife killer to be transformed into a symbol of justice for African Americans, so, today, can Adnan can be hailed as a representative of the wrongfully convicted and the Averys celebrated as exemplary Americans while the Halbachs are trashed.

This is because, in the end, Injustice porn isn’t about either truth or justice. It’s porn, which means it can only supply a cheap frisson. If it leaves you with an uneasy feeling about the women victims, it’s because it should.

47 thoughts on “‘Injustice porn’ like Making a Murder and Serial celebrates men who kill and abuse women

  1. Pingback: Who killed Teresa Halbach if it wasn’t Steven Avery? | AnnBrocklehurst.com

  2. Pingback: 10 questions about Making a Murderer on Netflix | AnnBrocklehurst.com

  3. Hi Ann,

    Thanks for writing this.

    I’m overwhelmed by the reaction in general, and the lack of reaction specifically to the victim, to the MaM show.

    The comparisons to *Serial* in terms of how the makers have pushed a narrative, as well as portrayed the nature of the crime in particular, are endless, and show how easy it is to ignore the facts in favour of a misplaced ‘campaign.’

    The film-makers’ editorial decisions are shocking and disgusting: never accusing anyone outright, they have pointed the finger at people who were variously grieving, trying to find someone they cared deeply for, doing their jobs, performing their civic duty, or bravely setting aside familial ties to do the right thing, in order for this murdered woman to receive justice.

    The internet has responded with ignorance and cruelty. People who endured the horror of discovering their sister, friend, daughter had been viciously murdered and went through the legal process are now held somehow accountable for doing the right thing, and are fair game for malicious speculation, just because they happened to appear on a show that they wanted no part in.

    Avery’s cousin, the victim of sexual harassment, violent intent and what was probably an aborted attempt at rape, has her claims summarily dismissed out of hand as exaggeration, malice and nothing to take seriously. This woman was driven off the road with a gun held to her head. No doubt she doesn’t like Avery, and no doubt she didn’t like him before. But this is just another hysterical woman with an agenda, apparently.

    I want to look away, but I can’t. I stupidly watched this show, so I am part of the problem, but I am currently in a minority that can see what is happening and I feel somewhat responsible for putting different views out there. I applaud you for putting your name to your views and consolidating something in a blog rather than the 15765th trashy meme of one of the ‘villains’.

    I don’t know if you saw this first time around, but here is another British feminist perspective on Hae Min Lee: http://vagendamagazine.com/2014/12/it-starts-with-a-body-why-its-important-to-keep-questioning-the-serial-podcast/

    As for Dassey, our views differ rather significantly, but I agree this 16 year old deserved better support than he received – from his family.

    As a witness, not a suspect, he was not entitled to free legal representation in his first police interviews (he had not been charged). His mother could have been present, though I believe she did not want to be. In one of the interviews she enters the room afterwards. She was aware of what was happening.

    Dassey did not wish his lawyer to be present for the interview that took place after he was charged. What is a lawyer in that situation supposed to do, go against the wishes of his client? Anyway, it’s something that was also misrepresented in the show.

    Thanks once again for countering the narrative and addressing the main lacuna in this whole mess – a lack of feminist perspective.

  4. You’ve captioned the photo of the Serial note as “imagine your daughter wrote this note” but what you’ve displayed is not something Hae wrote, it’s something Aisha and Adnan wrote.

    • Thanks for that. I added in Hae’s actual note as well as the backside on which Syed wrote his death threat.

  5. I don’t agree with your assessment of Brendan Dassey. I believe there was a pair of bleach stained jeans that his mother turned over to the police and that they both admitted were stained when Brendan helped his uncle cleanup the garage.

    Brendan could have testified and plea bargained for a reduced sentence. Instead he stonewalled and got life. The choice was his.

    • Bad advice from a woefully ignorant (but well-meaning and duped, I guess?) mom, fear of repercussions from the family. Detectives put them both up in a hotel, to protect them.

      Kachinsky and O’Kelly did all they could to try to arrange the best deal for Dassey, get justice for Teresa, and protect him. This was not the story presented by the show. I feel bad for them both.

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  7. I haven’t interpreted either of these shows as being truly about the guilt or innocence of the accused parties. Serial, to me, is a meditation on the elusive nature and shaky reliability of truth and memory. Making a Murderer is about the criminal negligence that plagues our country’s justice system. Koenig needed to cast as much doubt anywhere she could to fit her theme. Not the theme that Adnan is innocent, she admits herself that she really doesn’t know, but the theme that none of us can really know anything for certain, inside or outside of criminal justice. Making a Murderer absolutely smears the Manitowoc Sherrif’s Department, not necessarily because of Steven Avery’s presumed innocence, but to make a point about how incompetence and negligence can be the difference between innocent and guilty. I suppose it can be argued that authorial intent doesn’t matter, and the inappropriate reactions that these shows have inspired from their audiences casts a negative shadow on the show itself, but I think they can be appreciated for what they are, separate from how the audience as a whole perceives them.

    • none of us can really know anything for certain, inside or outside of criminal justice

      Well, if we go down that path we might as well just close down the courts and stay home reading 20th century French philosophers.

      BTW, I do think both Serial and Making a Murderer do many things well. It’s just for me the bad points overshadow the good.

      • Hey I’m a big fan of post-modernism, in fact the entire post-modern critique leads us to today’s ‘truthiness’. I don’t extrapolate from post-modernism that nothing can be understood, rather than understanding things is difficult. The fact that Serial and this netflix thing has confused so many people is a reflection of that. I don’t think everyone is capable of understanding post-modernism, just as I don’t think everyone is capable of understanding these ‘injustice porn’ cases.

        • I didn’t walk away after listening to Serial thinking Adnan was innocent, rather that justice is messy, and sometimes there are no conclusive evidence just a bunch of smaller pieces that can go either way depending on who is interpreting them.

    • Have you considered that this ‘authorial intent’ is nothing more than passive-aggressive obfuscation, and far from the egalitarian critique the authors claim it to be ?

  8. Great. Now critique the “injustice porn” film an Unreal Dream: the Michael Morton story. Michael Morton spent 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. And because the justice system was just so obsessed with convicting the wrong man they ignored important evidence and let Mark Alan Norwood go. He went on to brutally rape and murder other women.

    • Dude, just because I don’t think Adnan Syed was a wrongful conviction doesn’t mean I believe wrongful convictions don’t exist. I know all too well that they do.

  9. Celebrating what?

    Steve Avery is the man who was on trial, in “Making a Murderer”, not Charles and
    not Earl. His brothers’ transgressions say nothing of his guilt. And Steve’s own
    attack on his female cousin was detailed in the show.

    The notion that Avery looks like he has fetal alcohol syndrome borders on
    ad hominem. Are you a medical doctor, making a remote diagnosis? And trying to
    use this notion of yours to dispute that his parents love him and want to
    protect him, it’s crass.

    I don’t think the cat incident was clearly covered. I certainly didn’t
    understand that the cat had been doused in gasoline… But it also wasn’t the
    crux of the show.

    But, the point I think you’re the most off base on, regards Mike Halbach. If all
    you take away from his appearance on the show is, he’s treated unsympathetically, I don’t believe you’re thinking clearly. Mike, for me, exhibits a very troubling aspect in our society. Mike was our blood lust for justice. He ignored the presumption of innocence and he became an immediate mouthpiece for the prosecution. He unwittingly helped drive this crusade against Avery. Were he a bit wiser, he would’ve reserved judgement and listened … Rather than jumping into the fray.

    So many of us don’t understand the legal system, because we don’t
    have to deal with it very often. We want to believe the police are doing the
    right thing. When people like Mike Halbach stand in front of their communities
    and tell the public they think someone is lying, because of the statements
    people have made… We want to believe them. But, look at Brenden Dassey, he was clearly coerced into making a confession. He was fed information that no one else knew and he incorporated it into his “confession”. Mike Halbach couldn’t have known this… But he was only too happy to tell his local news that he knew
    Avery was guilty and Avery was being dishonest, because of Brenden’s confession.

    Mike Halbach was in a terrible position. I don’t begrudge him anything, regardless
    of Avery or Dassey’s guilt. But he’s offered us a a significant warning. Don’t
    rush to judgement, because you never know what’s going on behind the scenes.

    • Philip0011
      You don’t even seem to consider that Avery is almost certainly guilty, and that Mike was following the lead that any rational person in that situation would follow as compelling evidence unfolded, that implicated both Avery and Dassey. Or, that maybe he did think about other suspects, but we are purposely never shown any of that contemplation, and by the time of the trial had made up his mind. I have my bias – Chilton, WI is my hometown, and I know a lot of people in that film. They were exploited and used to make this docufiction. Do research and you will find a compelling case for why Avery is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and how much is left out of the documentary. Once people stop insensitively casting suspicion on Teresa’s brother, her ex-boyfriend, and roommate, and get serious about who else might have done it, the only people that might have had any chance of committing this crime and framing Steven are other Avery kin. And the defense attorneys couldn’t present those scenarios at trial because they didn’t have any evidence of it, just speculation.

      Mike might have contemplated that some other Avery kin committed the crime, but we’re never shown in the documentary, and by the time this case went to trial, he would have had to consider: The real killers had to commit the crime elsewhere, because Steven and others were home. On a cool late October, WI evening, “he” or “they” had to shoot her with Steven’s .22 to get her DNA on the bullet, then either they or the police had to plant that bullet in Steven’s garage. With her head still bleeding, they had to set her in the back of the RAV4 to match the physical evidence, all while not getting their DNA on anything, an unnecessary risk because they want the RAV4 to be found. Next, off-site, somewhere else, they had to find a way to burn her body in a long, hot as blazes fire, full of tires, then place the remains in Steven’s fire pit, where coincidently he had a huge fire on the evening in question. Or, maybe the real killers slipped her dead body into the fire pit while this big tire fire was burning that night, then found a way to tend to it without arousing suspicion, so that it could burn long enough to nearly get rid of the body, as the physical evidence showed.

      Meanwhile, without getting DNA on the vehicle, they have to hide it up on the ridge. Somehow either the real killers or the cops needed to get Avery’s blood dripped onto the RAV4 in six spots and Steven’s sweat DNA under the hood latch. Mysteriously, the real killers take off the license plates and take out the battery, more unnecessary risk of handling it, and they further remove the license plates and hid them somewhere, even though they want the car to be found and identified. Then, without getting their DNA on Steven’s rifle or Teresa’s car keys, they need to plant them back in Steven’s room.

      Finally, whomever really did this needs to get a slow kid to confess to participating in the crimes, in such a way that matches the framer’s handiwork and implicates Steven, but also err in such a way that it also incriminates poor Brendan and sets him on a path to serve life in prison. After all, it isn’t sufficient for the framer’s to just get Steven and coax Brendan into telling a tale that doesn’t get Brendan life. Or, we have to believe that Brendan is incredibly creative, and coaxed or not, is able to completely make up a detailed story that by happenstance matches the efforts of the frame artist. Or, that even though we can read the entire interrogations, and see that the cops leave mostly open ended questions, that they trick him into making up a story that fits the framers intent and implicates Steven.

      Mike might have been following what happened as it happened, and come to the more logical conclusion that Steven Avery did the crime and Brendan was manipulated by him into being an accomplice. Brendan gives hours and hours of detailed confession full of dialogue and gory details that I don’t think a slow kid could just make up. And even though there are issues with the way he is interrogated, much of what he says matches the scene. Steven lured her there, enticed or threatened Brendan to participate, and ultimately shot her multiple times with his .22, fatally in the head, probably with some shots from the outside of the garage shooting in, so that the bullet found by the police landed where it did. The bullet was found amongst all of the junk because the police knew where to look for it following Brendan’s confession. They then set her into the back of the RAV4, which matches her blood stains as they decided what to do, apparently contemplating dumping her in a pond. Ultimately they decided to burn her right by the trailer, mixed with tires, and still had to tend to the fire to get her body to burn that completely. Her burnt phone and PDA were found right by the fire. A fire is more easily tended to when the fire is right in your backyard. Steven then drove the car to the ridge, with an open cut, leaving the blood, and opened the hood latch depositing his DNA.

      The state’s case is a far more likely series of events and is what Mike would have been exposed to over a long series of time, with most of the pieces fitting the puzzle as they unfold. We’ll never know what thoughts he had about if somebody else might have done it, because that is purposely never shown in the documentary.

      “Injustice Porn” is an apt description of what this docufiction is about. Just like film makers going around during spring break to find young women blitzed out of their minds and get them to star in “Girls Gone Wild” only to regret it and feel used years later, this film has used the real victims and the good guys to make the world angry, and misplace that anger in so many ways that it is very troubling. A misogynistic murderer becomes the hero. The prosecutor is raped by the internet, and even though he is not perfect, regarding this case he correctly prosecuted two murderers and convinced juries to send them to prison in spite of the handicaps of some of the issues portrayed in the film. Teresa herself is used, when they purposely show the “suspicious” video of her speaking about if she might die young. Such an honor these film makers have for the victim as to cast her as plausibly suicidal when everyone that knew her says she loved life and was a delight to be around. The victim’s brother and her closest friends are cast as both suspicious and duped, her family forced to re-live this tragedy, and we all forget about the real victim Teresa.

  10. This happens often, and the “lets apologize and understand the murderer” is more usually use when a woman is the one that supposedly committed the crime, all you have to do is look at the different time server between different genders for the same crime, men do not only serve more time for the same crimes, they are sentence to more time for the same crimes as well.

    Movies and Television have been making scum of the earth look good for a while, the troubling aspect i see with this is not the gender of those depicted but the fact that they are romanticizing the worst kind of people.

    Still it makes good entertainment sometimes.

  11. Absolutely astounding blather! i’m beginning to think, AnnB, that you are either incapable of rational thought or that you just crave the attention that comes from making controversial accusations. Maybe both.

    I’m not familiar with Serial, but as for your critique of Making a Murderer: much of what you say is a more vitriolic re-hash of complaints you expressed in ‘Who killed Teresa Halbach if it wasn’t Steven Avery?,” which you now attempt to cram into the new, attention-grabbing theme of “injustice porn.”

    To state the obvious: you clearly assume that Avery is unquestionably guilty and that the filmmakers know it. It’s the only way you can accuse them of “celebrating the men who kill and abuse women.” Surely you don’t think it would be “porn” to honestly believe and attempt to persuade others that someone accused of killing a woman didn’t actually do it?

    Equally obvious is the fact that few people share your view of the series, and that many of us believe the evidence in the case supports reasonable doubt.

    What is really scary about your latest comment is not-so-veiled suggestion that it doesn’t much matter whether Avery or Brandon were guilty of this particular crime, because they’ve done other stuff and are scummy people from degenerate families. Just amazing.

    I for one am not going to read any more of this crap.

    • So here’s the thing,I thought long and hard about whether to write “celebrating the men who kill and/or abuse women” as opposed to “celebrating the men who kill and abuse women.”

      In the end, I decided I’m a journalist not a lawyer and went with the latter.

      I always find it funny when people accuse me of attention seeking as if 99% of writers (who aren’t Kafka) don’t want their work to be read. Isn’t that why we write?

      And why do you care if I rehash stuff. A blog is a work in progress. I love the feedbag I get. I use it, integrate and rewrite.

      When I get negative feedback that makes sense, I’ll often incorporate reader suggestions. So, for example, when you say, “you clearly assume that Avery is unquestionably guilty and that the filmmakers know it,” I ask myself, “how did he get that from my essay?”

      Because you have made some good points here, and others have also interpreted this post to mean that I think Avery is unconditionally guilty, I have now added a clarification that reads:

      As for Steven Avery himself, I have no idea whether he did it or not. But like his lawyers, I believe that whoever did kill Teresa Halbach was associated with the salvage yard.

      I’m not sure this will change your mind about whether I’m “incapable of rational thought” and I don’t particularly care. I use feedback to make my work better.

      As for how many people share my view at a given point in time, I don’t really care about that either, and I’m surprised that you’re going down that road as it’s pretty meaningless.

      • How does my conclusion follow from your essay? Well, if Avery is not guilty and/or the filmmakers honestly believe that he is innocent, in what sense could their sympathetic depiction of his trial and unjust conviction be said to “celebrate the men who kill and abuse women”? What “killer” is the film celebrating, in your view, if not Avery? And if you’re saying the film somehow “celebrates” a killer who is someone other than Avery, what’s the point of all of your comments about evidence pertaining to Avery that is not included in the film? Hardly seems relevant if he’s not the killer. None of the accusations in your essay make much sense unless you assume that Avery is guilty. Stating you believe the killer may not be Avery but someone “associated with the salvage yard” doesn’t exactly clarify your point. Do you think the film “celebrates” unknown people associated with salvage yards?

        Here’s what really makes me mad about your accusations: I believe the film has prompted more thoughtful discussion about problems with our justice system than I’ve seen in many years. Sure, there’s bias, but it’s not exactly hidden, and it’s pretty obvious there was nothing unbiased or objective about the trial. So at worst, the film bias is a sort of counterbalance. To serve that purpose and to generate meaningful discussion, the filmmakers dedicated years of time, money and effort. Your response, it seems, is simply to use their work as a vehicle to promote your own pet ideas. There’s nothing wrong with that, by itself, but you appear to gratuitously condemn these filmmakers just so you and your readers will have a target for your misplaced outrage. Which, in my view, is pure hate-mongering of a very dangerous sort.

        • So here is something someone wrote on Reddit in a comment about my post:

          A ‘properly feminist’ critique would address questions like:
          1) Is it excusable to claim that you ‘don’t buy AS’s motive?
          2) What is it about the murder of young, pretty girls that make these stories so captivating and commercially viable? What do the answers to these questions say about the role of women in society?
          3) In ambiguous ‘wrongful conviction’ stories, should the author/producer be more careful to honestly portray the accused’s behaviour, even if it is problematic for his/her narrative and financial viability of their product, due to the fact that sexual violence and violence against women has a history of being under reported and under prosecuted?

          https://www.reddit.com/r/serialpodcast/comments/40bpdk/the_problem_at_the_heart_of_injustice_porn/cyteeq3

          Point 3 is IMO the one that really applies, and I think the filmmakers failed here on many, many accounts — both by glossing over Steven Averys’s past charges and by romanticizing his family. And yes, I do think it’s fair to say that the filmmakers celebrate this family of woman abusers. (I tried to explain the and/or kill/abuse thing y’day.)

          Re the film inspiring discussion of the “justice system,” do you really think this case is a good representation of the justice system? I don’t so I don’t think it’s particularly valuable to have a cultish audience that thinks it is.

          AS for how long or hard the filmmakers worked on it, that really has nothing to do with whether or not I find their film used unethical techniques and had a pernicious influence as I do.

          • “As for how many people share my view at a given point in time, I don’t really care about that either, and I’m surprised that you’re going down that road as it’s pretty meaningless.”

            Seems odd to me that you proceed from making the statement above to beginning your next post with the statement: “So here is something someone wrote on Reddit in a comment about my post . . ” Does it support your accusations that someone on Reddit has said something that you think “really applies” because they apparently share your view? Of course you’re entitled to your opinions, but opinions are all they are. Many of us have different, equally valid opinions. I think, for example, there are lots of “true crime” stories about men killing women because people are interested in crimes and lots of them involve well, men killing women.

            If we’re going to talk about facts, and not just opinions, let’s be clear there is a difference between “glossing over Steven Averys’s past charges” and “romanticizing his family,” and “celebrating men who kill and abuse women.”

            If he’s innocent (as you concede he may be) is there something wrong with romanticizing his family? Do his past charges matter to the story if he is innocent of the present horrendous crime? Again, despite your protests, your complaints only make sense if you assume he is guilty, or if you believe that someone with his ‘history” (or maybe just his family) should not be the subject of compassion even when wrongly convicted.

            On whether the justice system depicted in the film is a “good representation,” I’m not sure what you mean. Typical? No, an extreme example because it involves most all the possible horrors, including incompetent public defenders, false testimony, coercive police tactics, possible fabrication of evidence, poor evidence handling, possible juror misconduct, unethical prosecution tactics, political appellate review, etc. Many of these problems are, however, quite common on an individual basis.

            Most important, the trial is quite representative because it illustrates how the subject matter itself promotes emotional reactions that have more to do with fears, prejudice, bias and hatred than with evidence and reasonable doubt. And that, quite frankly, is where your comments are most illustrative of how the system can sometimes fail the way it does.

          • I didn’t cite that quote because it supports me. It’s because the poster succinctly articulated my theme in a way I hadn’t. I thought maybe you might try to answer those questions, but no.

            If he’s innocent (as you concede he may be) is there something wrong with romanticizing his family?

            Yes, it’s dishonest.

            Do his past charges matter to the story if he is innocent of the present horrendous crime?
            Yes, this isn’t a trial. It’s a look at the man and his family.

            Again, despite your protests, your complaints only make sense if you assume he is guilty, or if you believe that someone with his ‘history” (or maybe just his family) should not be the subject of compassion even when wrongly convicted.

            I do assume someone at the Salvage Yard killed her. Steven Avery has accused his brothers. Two things can be true — the Averys are a family of women abusers and Steven Avery was wrongly convicted on a rape charge.

            All human systems fail, and when they fail it needs to be addressed, but, in terms of things I fear, I find the hysteria engendered by this film way worse than the weaknesses in the justice system.

  12. “I find the hysteria engendered by this film way worse than the weaknesses in the justice system.”

    Huh? You’re serious? The public debate (which you call “hysteria”) is WORSE than the mere ‘weakness” of occasional wrongful convictions? Well, you are entitled to your opinions.

    I didn’t try to answer the questions you quoted from the Reddit post because it wasn’t clear whether they were statements or questions and I didn’t understand most of them. They seemed to involve a lot of unsupported pop psychological theories by an anonymous poster.

    I also am not persuaded by your ‘explanation’ that you said ‘kill and abuse’ rather than ‘kill and/or abuse’ because you are a journalist and not a lawyer. Unless you mean that, in true journalistic fashion, you are free to use sensational but inaccurate headlines to attract attention and boost readership. in which event your criticisms of the filmmakers for being ‘dishonest’ because they romanticize a family seem rather lame.

    “I do assume someone at the Salvage Yard killed her. Steven Avery has accused his brothers. Two things can be true — the Averys are a family of women abusers and Steven Avery was wrongly convicted on a rape charge.”

    How carefully-worded this is: ‘someone AT the Salvage Yard.” You mean someone living at the salvage yard, right? Oh, let’s say what you really mean — -you assume than an Avery — no, an Avery MAN — did it, right? The two possibilities you mention are just two of many. One you don’t mention, course, is the idea that if a different Avery did it, then Steven was wrongfully convicted of murder. Again, my sense is you feel it doesn’t matter because they’re all bad and he’s surely guilty of something. Which is more or less the attitude we KNOW got him wrongfully convicted of rape.

    I think you are perfectly illustrating the mentality which is the focus of the film. Your anger over violence and abuse of women, justifiable as it is, has caused you to view other people — men, that is — in a stereotypical, prejudiced manner. Just as, somewhere along the line, some of the Avery men no doubt developed prejudices and hatred of women.

  13. “So yes, I’d rather live with current flawed system than a system created by crazy witch hunters”

    A great example of the false dichotomies you like to use — considering only limited alternatives to make your answer appear utterly sensible. But of course there’s no risk that crazy witch hunters will be given free reign to reform the justice system. What you said, however, is that you would rather live with ‘weaknesses’ in the system like false convictions than have to deal with hysterical comments. That’s the choice I can’t comprehend.

    “I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that I think it’s ok if a different Avery brother did it and Steven took the fall. I’m not.”

    Your whole point seems to be that even if the filmmakers believe (with some justification) that Avery may have been wrongfully convicted, that fact doesn”t merit attention because it was wrong — pornographic — for them to portray him or his parents with any sympathy because he’s done other bad stuff and his family is bad. The filmmakers should have been making your point rather than theirs.

    Sure, it would be great if the filmmakers could answer all our questions. The fact that they can’t doesn’t mean they didn’t try His very capable attorneys could not, You can’t. That’s what police investigations and trials are supposed to do, what the huge resources of the state are supposed to be devoted to in a timely fashion. I think that’s the point of the film — which you apparently think pales in comparison to the feminist themes you want to promote.

    You seem to have the view that a documentary is supposed to present all relevant facts in a wholly objective, unbiased fashion. Why? I don’t know if that’s possible, or that anybody would watch it if they did. It’s certainly not what the prosecution did, what you do, or what journalists typically do. I’m not aware of anyone who has tried. From your posts, it’s pretty clear you haven’t made anything resembling the effort you would place on the filmmakers. If you wanted to, you could easily obtain all the transcripts and read them, for example They are public records that can be purchased if nothing else. Apparently you just believe it’s the obligation of someone who makes a documentary as opposed to the obligation of a journalist who wants to attack the documentary

    • No false dichotomies here. I cover courts regularly. I see the good and the bad. I know how complicated it often is, which is partly responsible for the negative part of my reaction to Making a Murderer and the mob it’s provoked.

      You seem to have the view that a documentary is supposed to present all relevant facts in a wholly objective, unbiased fashion. Why?

      No, I absolutely do not. I’m completely in favouring of journalists having a point of view, but that doesn’t absolve them of their responsibility to be fair and honest. My quarrel with the MaM filmmakers is that they weren’t fair and honest.

      Apparently you just believe it’s the obligation of someone who makes a documentary as opposed to the obligation of a journalist who wants to attack the documentary

      Someone who makes a documentary is a journalist.

  14. I wish you were joking and this was a tongue in cheek sort of thing but sadly I can tell it’s not. Are you seriously telling me that the women who made this documentary to make our broken legal system clearly understandable and increasingly memorable to the layperson of America should have dropped everything and said “you know what, fuck it, let’s make this documentary about victimized women instead. Who cares about our fucked up legal system; we are doing a disservice to women victims ’round the world if we don’t instead just show how awful men go around beating on women. For shame!”
    This documentary is not about the victim nor should it be. Who the victim was as a person has zero bearing on her accused murderer’s guilt or innocence. Who the accused murderer was as a person before being accused also shouldn’t have any bearing on his guilt or innocence, although in this case he was completely robbed of that presumption, which is one of the main things the documentary is trying to show us.
    And then to suggest that previous crimes or the crimes of family members should be considered in his guilt or innocence…it’s just so many laughs I had to stop reading. You’re the kind of feminist who has made real feminists who believe in equality for ALL people (women and DUN DUN DUN…MEN TOO!) scared to admit their “feminist status”. I know you have to write something controversial to get clicks but this is such a halfhearted attempt I just am left feeling sad inside.

  15. Pingback: Why I Stopped Watching Making A Murderer - Walking with Cake

  16. “They skip over the fact that Avery looks like he might have fetal alcohol syndrome”

    But, is this really a fact?

    From what I gather, your posts about Making a Murderer are mostly a criticism of the filmmakers integrity (journalistic, perhaps?). But your point flounders a bit in light of the same lack of integrity.

    Unless your purpose is to present the complete opposite side with bias, in which case, your defense of your comments and the logic behind them as being rooted in fact also comes off as disingenuous.

    • It’s Dr. Drew Pinsky,an addiction specialist who’s also a broadcaster, who first suggested Avery had FAS. I will modify my article to make that clear.

      Apart from that, what in my essay demonstrates a lack of integrity? I am not opposed to journalists having a POV or a bias, but that doesn’t free them from their obligations to present a story fairly and truthfully. Hiding facts and casting innocent people as suspicious to increase the narrative tension are not ethical tactics. I haven’t done either of those things.

  17. Ann B. – Do you have a source that says the video diary that Teresa made was for a university project? On Reddit, people are asking for context regarding the video. We have the context that her father died at the age of 31, she was an art student, multiple, multiple sources say it was a video diary, other Redditors have said it was for school, and your article here that says it was for a university project…but…gasp…you don’t have a source cited in your blog…so it probably was stoner talk and Teresa was self-indulgent, unstable and blah blah blah…thank you Ricciardi and Demos for the confusion….

  18. I just wanted to mention something that you left out of your article, Kratz committed the very same crime that Avery got 32 years for, (sexual assault) he shouldn’t be on every single article and news station that is covering this case, since he forced sex on a girl that he was prosecuting. Why is spewing lies trying to make himself look better, he truly is despicable. I am not usually rude to people, but I noticed that you seem to be judging a lot of different people and then you turn around and are saying the same thing about the film makers that you are doing the very same thing

    • Oh, please. Kratz is a sleazebag who’s done lots of questionable — and possibly illegal — things but how on earth can you equate a violent beating and rape with sexting harassment?

  19. Great, balanced and fair article. Another case of “injustice porn” are the documentaries (and fundraisers and concerts etc) about the West Memphis Three. The evidence against them is pretty damn strong but defense attorneys and documentary makers are brilliant at misdirection.

    It would be so great if somebody were to do a Kicjmstarter for a documentary that 1) presents all the actual evidence against the West Memphis Three & 2) analyzes how the media narrative of innocence and wrongful conviction emerged and became dominant.

  20. Excellent article and such innocence fraud subterfuge has also occurred in the Meredith Kercher case. Thanks for writing this, it’s heartening to see others haven’t forsaken their logic and reason in favour of a fraudulent feel-good narrative. Thanks again for your great piece.

      • Amanda Knox is guilty as sin and her conviction would be final right after her trial in the US & most other western nations. Even the acquitting court says she was at the murder, washed the victim’s blood from her hands after, blamed an innocent man to protect one of the killers, that there were three killers and that the burglary was staged. She is a total fraud and falsely proclaims herself an “exoneree” when she was illegally acquitted due to “insufficient evidence” (para 2 article 530 Italian Criminal Procedure Code), like Casey Anthony & OJ.
        She also allows horrendous attacks on the victim’s family on her own blog which she moderates ergo approves of such attacks. The truth has a habit of coming to light and often when we least expect it to shine. It will come to light here and Amanda Knox is fooling nobody who has read the court transcripts and judges reports.

      • One final thing- it’s pertinent to note that Amanda Knox also remains a criminal felon today due to her Blame the Black Guy Syndrome, when she falsely accused her innocent employer of rape and murder and left him rotting in prison for two weeks. The acquitting court upheld and finalized her conviction for this. I sincerely hope you research the facts of Ms Kercher’s case, she’s a grue innocent victim. You’ll find the trial and appeal transcripts and court reports at the murder of Meredith Kercher.com. Thanks for your time, cheers.

  21. That said, I respectfully diagree with your comments on Brendan Dassey Ms Brocklehurst. If you view his entire confession it’s supported by forensic evidence and Dassey volunteers information that the police never mention. Great article nonetheless.

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