Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Monster Beside Me
I recently watched a DVD that’s been out for a while. I had wanted to see the film in the theater and hadn’t gotten around to it. Wanted to watch the DVD when it was initially released and again, never got around to it.
The movie is controversial. I’m not here to recommend you run right out and rent it. In fact, part of the reason I wasn’t more determined to see it right away was the controversy of it. Not that I was worried that people might found out I had seen a potentially offensive flick. Because I wasn’t sure I, as a Christian, should watch it.
But we were off on Saturday with not much planned except to relax together and there weren’t any new releases out that were begging for our attention. The Mr. headed out to the video store and came home with a movie he knew I’d been interested in.
This is not a review of Monster. Nor am I trying to convince you to see it. I’m not here to debate the merits of controversial material and whether Christians should watch such movies.
I’ll just clarify myself right now and tell you I have a years-long obsession with serial killers. Many of you already know about this quirk in my already quirk-filled personality. I can tell you exactly when the obsession started. In junior high I ran across a book called The Stranger Beside Me about the infamous (then not famous) serial killer, Ted Bundy. Written by Ann Rule, who had worked with him not realizing who and what he was.
I read the book and the fascination with serial killers was born.
By the way, I am quite taken with murder in general and my children often comment while I’m watching “City Confidential” or “American Justice” that I’m relaxing by way of murder.
Weird, I know.
Of course, I’m a psychiatric nurse and mental illness nut (ha!) anyway, so maybe it all makes sense.
Or maybe I’m just a freak.
Back to Monster.
Aileen Wuornos was the first identified female serial killer in the United States. She was executed in 2002 in the state of Florida. She was nasty. Ugly. Crazy. Oh, and a lesbian and a hooker.
“Lee” was not a sympathetic character.
At least Ted Bundy was handsome.
I had, of course, been familiar with the story of this first female serial killer long before Charlize Theron took on the role of Lee. This movie was close to the heart of my interest in these deviants, these murderers.
Since the day that I read the jacket of The Stranger Beside Me, I’ve had a singular question pushing this unofficial research year after year. Why?
Why does some average infant become a Monster?
The movie, Monster, did perhaps the best job I can recall of starting to answer the question most people won’t ask. Why?
You see, in the horror and disgust with which we react to killers, we de-humanize them. But they are human. Flesh and blood. Just like us.
Why? Why do they stalk and torture and kill?
Aileen Wuornos was raped for the first time around eight years of age. The assaults continued for the rest of her life. Gave birth to a baby who was adopted away at the age of thirteen. Prostituted to provide for siblings from her pre-teen years.
Was raped, beaten and in the process; lost herself to some inner psychopath.
Got involved in a lesbian relationship looking for love in a safe place, with another woman. Men having been the instruments of her terror she took a chance on love from a different source.
Aileen Wuornos found that turning the tables on prostitution to survive she could murder and rob men and gain back control. She could bring home the car and the money of her victim and thereby keep her “girlfriend” around for another week.
Ultimately, this girlfriend aided the authorities in arresting Lee, testified against her and walked away free despite having known all along where the money was coming from.
This isn’t a post to defend Eileen Wurnos, vilify the woman who turned her in or explain away so much evil it’s too much to contain in a blog or a book or a movie.
It just brings me back to that question I asked in junior high.
Because somewhere along the line; somebody messed up.
I’m not talking about the child molester or the parents or the system or the men looking for hookers.
I’m not talking about lesbians or killers.
I’m talking about us.
I just have to think that somewhere in that time line when hell was running loose there was some Christian somewhere to whom God said, “Go do something about this!”
And they didn’t. We didn’t
That’s just what I think anyway.
Do I hold myself responsible for serial killers?
That’s why I have to keep listening and learning and paying attention.
I don’t want to be the one God tells, “Go do something!” and then do nothing.
There’s blood on our hands.
At least, that’s what I think.