In the opening episode of Killer Women, Piers Morgan says to convicted murderer Erin Caffey; “I can’t picture you as somebody who would want her family annihilated”.
Why is that? Because Caffey is *gasp* a WOMAN? Because she has blonde hair and blue eyes, with a hint of mascara on? Because she’s deemed as pretty, ascribing to society’s views about what a woman should look like and therefore surely cannot be a killer?
Killer Women tries to make murder sexy, by virtue of the sex of the assailants. They’re women, they murder someone, that’s weird. Well, no, actually, I’d say anyone murdering another human being is weird, and newsworthy, regardless of whether they have a vagina or not.
“Reducing heinous crimes like murder to something sexual and mysterious does not help matters”
You would never have a show called “Killer Men” (although who knows, second season?) yet it is seen as totally normal for a mainstream channel to make a show whose promotion is purely based on the sex of the people involved. What Killer Women is saying is that the only factor of interest in these horrendous crimes is the fact that they were committed by women.
“People just think of you as this monstrous murderess.” Hmm, actually I doubt that very much Piers. They probably think of her as a monstrous murderer, because no-one in the 21st century uses the term “murderess”, largely because we’re not living in the dark ages.
In fairness, more men are statistically killers than women — it’s one of the only positive variants of the gender gap in today’s society. And as Morgan so helpfully tells us, according to FBI statistics, women who kill are three times as likely as men to kill someone they love. Reducing heinous crimes like murder to something sexual and mysterious does not help matters. Yes, murder and murderers are a big ratings draw right now; Making a Murderer on Netflix, the Serial podcast series, The Jinx on HBO.
“They draw in viewers, but at what cost?”
But there’s an even darker side to the sensationalism of murder: the effects on the real life victims, whose nightmares are relived for our entertainment. The family of Hae Min Lee, whose murder is the subject of Serial, have described the wounds the podcast opened; and the daughter of Lesley Howell, whose death ITV’s drama The Secret focuses on, claimed she was powerless to stop her family’s real life trauma being adapted for television.
One has to wonder the effect of such sensationalism on AJ, the son and key witness of Morgan’s next ‘Killer Woman’, Amanda Lewis. The testimony AJ gave in the case when he was only five years old featured prominently in the episode; now 15 and adopted by another family, his childhood horror of seeing his older sister drowned by his mother relived for all to see.
At the end of the day, murder is murder. Simple as. Promoting shows such as Killer Women only serves to glorify the crimes — they draw in viewers, but at what cost?