Crime & Punishment (My Readers and I Discuss Ted Bundy and Kamala Harris)
This week, I wrote about Ted Bundy being disinterred again for us to consider how “special” he was. There is a whole “OMG, Ted Bundy was so hot!” conversation happening on social media. It’s being driven by the Netflix documentary on Bundy and the new feature film about him starring Zac Efron. The focus on Bundy’s looks and charisma has always rubbed me the wrong way. Particularly when you consider that the admiration, the infamy is part of what people like Bundy want. I can’t understand continuing to line up to give it to him and to make that promise to whoever the next Bundy might be…
Marley K. wrote in with some personal experience with children who share some of Bundy’s personality traits.
Having worked with children who were one characteristic away from being diagnosed as sociopaths with serial predator tendencies, I can say without a shadow of a doubt there are always signs. They are hidden by good looks, a parent’s wealth and proclivity for cleaning up their kids’ perverted misdeeds, and overlooked by people who want their kids to be perfect — forcing them to act normal when they aren’t.
I can’t tell you how many sociopaths are walking around because we miss the signs and because family members are so terrified of their mental ill loved ones they’ll unleash them onto the world with no warning — as long as they get the hell away from them. Whiteness glorifies everything Ted Bundy is. Ted Bundy is no different from Donald Trump and his cronies, and that’s why Bundy is revived. Paying homage to Whiteness and all the things they glorify.
I while ago (years), there was a New York Times feature about children who displayed all the characteristics of antisocial personality disorder (sociopathy/psychopathy) and how difficult it was to diagnose and treat them. Our brains are the last part of us to develop fully. It doesn’t happen until we’re in our mid twenties. As a result, psychiatrists are understandably unwilling to stick labels with so much stigma attached to them on a child. These are kids who are setting fires, torturing and killing animals, assaulting their peers, and tormenting their family members. Even so, a lot of parents try to downplay the behavior as a “phase” especially when it’s boys being violent. And sometimes it might be a phase. A lot of the time it’s not, though. These kids don’t get the help they need even if their parents are in a position to access it for them, because of the shame attached. Their families keep the secrets. It’s a catch-22. The rest of us need to know what they are, but the stigma prevents us from being told and them from getting treatment. And we need to know. Bundy killed his first victim, an eight year-old girl who neighbors say “followed him around like a puppy,” when he was 15 years-old.
The “Ted Bundy is so handsome, charming, and exceptional” narrative is about propping up mediocre White men and stroking their egos by pretending they have impressive qualities they don’t (particularly intelligence) so they can feel important. There was nothing special about Bundy. He was violent, depraved, and a stain on humanity. I don’t believe in the death penalty, but I’m not mad they fried his ass.
Katy Preen wrote:
I’ve heard a lot of opinions on the trailer, and I will be seeing the film. I hope that it is better than many are predicting. I’ll be thinking about not just how well-executed the movie is, but what the director’s intent was — I’d like to see if they managed to at least convey their own vision right. It’s possible this film could be the talking point we need to engage others in conversations about serial predators, but ultimately I need to wait until I’ve actually seen it before I can really judge it.
A lot of movies are scuttled by bait-and-switch marketing. The trailers and other marketing materials can conflict with the tone and intent of the film. I’m hoping the story focuses more on the point of view of Carole Ann Boone (Bundy’s wife). I haven’t read or watched any interviews with the director, so I can’t speak to their intent. There’s a reason they cast Zac Efron as the lead and show him shirtless, though… My main issue is centering Bundy in the first place. It goes to the same reason I don’t like most news coverage of mass shootings that focus on the perpetrators. The people who’ve spent their lives studying and chasing these people all say the same thing: withhold the infamy and attention from the perpetrators, because it’s part of what they want — to feel special — and it creates copycats.
I understand why people are curious about (maybe even fascinated by) anomalies like Bundy and want to get to the bottom of how a human being can become so twisted. There are other ways to do it than dedicating a whole high-profile feature film to one of them, though. Personally, I like the approach Netflix’s Mindhunter takes. The show is about the founding of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, and it rarely shows any violence. During the interviews with the perpetrators, they always show the cracks, the abnormalities, the grotesqueness. They talk about how the serial killers evade capture, and the ruses they use, but it’s about gaining understanding not glorification. They also show how developing a rapport with the charmers can go sideways. They show how unrelenting the manipulation is from the point of view of the people being manipulated (this is another reason I think telling Carole Ann Boone’s story is more interesting). The clinical aspect of it all helps to create more distance. The framing of the story matters, and I don’t like the frame of hunky Zac Efron playing up his hunkiness as Bundy.
I also wrote about Kamala Harris and why questions about her “Blackness” aren’t as simple as they seem and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.
Marley K. also shared her thoughts on Harris. I’m going to share her whole post but not respond. I wanted to highlight it to make a point. I’ve been interacting with this person for months. She provides thoughtful, substantive comments that nearly always contain some perspective I wish I’d included in my story. She isn’t a Russian bot. I’ve also been having similar conversations on Twitter. None of those people are Russian bots either. The concerns people have about Harris aren’t being pulled out of thin air, and brushing them off as part of a conspiracy theory is dismissive and condescending and could very well blow up in Harris and her supporters’ faces.
For me, her Black is connected to her career choice. Of all the law professions to choose from (i.e. corporate law), she chose one that harmed us (criminal law/prosecution). She prosecuted during the Clinton years, implemented many of those failed policies (like the on-going fake war on drugs), in addition to other state laws which harmed people of color, so her record is vital to our decision making process. I have the same questions about her. I don’t care about her color as much as her power to harm us, break us, and support crooked cops. There are more candidates who don’t have the baggage that she does. I am not supporting her in the primaries. I don’t care how much she shines to and for Whiteness. If she makes it to the general (without my support) and it’s her and Trump, I am with her holding my nose because she stinks so bad.
In the age of Black Lives Matter, I can’t possibly accept her record as a career prosecutor with a grain of salt. No amount of Black can wash those sins away for me. I can forgive a lot, but being a part of the justice system at the highest levels is a no-go. She is the equivalent of Hillary and the Black/super predator comment. It’s unforgivable. The fact a “Black” woman did it makes the sting worse. They can drag her to the finish line trying to make her smell good and more palatable like they did Hillary if they want to…they will lose again.
They are seriously underestimating the wokeness of Blacks in the age of Trump. Kamala must give an account for her ode to White Supremacy. I notice Shaun King has blessed her. I wonder how much his Blessing cost? We can’t trust anyone these days to decide for us. Everyone with a name and a voice has a motive these days. Not pundits, radio personalities, or celebrities. Black folk with money, celebrity, and power makes them see each other (and the truth) differently.
Make better decisions Black Democrats! Thank you for saying what many of us have been thinking. I wrote a long piece on her. I gave her two thumbs down and a look elsewhere. Blackness is not a monolith, nor does it entitle folks to free Black passes for trespasses against us.
Thanks for reading!