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Making A Murderer

(27 Posts)
TheSteveMilliband Wed 20-Jan-16 18:58:18

I am watching this on Netflix and reading around the case. For anyone who doesn't know, it is a documentary looking at the evidence and process surrounding the arrest / conviction of a man for the murder of a young woman. Huge interest, lots of people believing in his innocence and believing in planting of evidence / a conspiracy by law enforcement to convict him. Me, not sure I have the evidence to decide. One of the more disturbing aspects of this though is the misogyny and dismissal of violence that seems to seep through some of those protesting his innocence. His ex gave an interview detailing the abuse she suffered which has been dismissed by many as "made up", not real, made under pressure from law enforcement and disbelieving her for "not coming forward at the time". Accounts of his previous violence against women and possible stalking dismissed as irrelevant,which makes me wonder about the undercurrent. Is it really about correcting a miscarriage of justice or has it become a way to dismiss male violence? I really don't know but would be really interested in the views from a feminist angle.

Mide7 Wed 20-Jan-16 19:27:28

I haven't finished watching it yet but he doesn't strike me as a very nice person and the documentary is very bias so glosses over any previous crimes.

Saying that, doesn't justify being imprisoned for 18 years for a crime he didn't commit, never mind the murder stuff.

FreshwaterSelkie Wed 20-Jan-16 19:41:04

It's an interesting point. I was thinking about it when I watched an interview that Jodi gave, and I believed her when she said he was violent and abusive towards her - having seen the notes he wrote his wife from jail, I think he also was probably abusive to her too.

However, it doesn't follow when Jodi says "and therefore he's guilty of the murder of Teresa Halbach" - the two aren't necessarily connected.

I can believe the two things without conflict - he is guilty of abusing her, and might not be guilty of the murder. Whether you believe he is guilty or innocent (personally I think it's very doubtful he did it), he didn't receive a fair trial, his conviction isn't safe and I am just about brought to tears by the way the state steamrollered Brendan Dassy - is that how we want vulnerable young people to be treated?! His lawyer was a piece of work.

IShouldBeSoLurky Wed 20-Jan-16 20:51:44

I thought, having only watched the first three episodes, that just about all the members of that family had foetal alcohol syndrome. Obviously making a diagnosis on the basis of three episodes of a somewhat (!) biased documentary is ludicrous, but it practically screamed it out to me.

Wizwo Wed 20-Jan-16 21:34:20

I haven't seen it but some things immediately concern me:

1) It's yet more dead women as entertainment. Would a show casting doubt on a conviction for the murder of a child be used as entertainment in this way? No.

2) The victim by definition has no voice - the show by definition is almost certainly centering the man and his innocence/guilt, making him the focus and the victim invisible. The violence against the victim may get dismissed in favour of heroically trying to save a man from "injustice".

3) Does the show have an adequate understanding of the dynamics of male violence against women, and does it present the case in that light? Serial by all accounts did a pretty poor job of thinking about intimate partner control/violence. Do shows like this make us more or less likely to believe women victims who are survivors of male violence?

Even if the show concludes that he's guilty, does that make all of this OK? To use a woman's death as entertainment and put her family through seeing it used that way?

Mide7 Wed 20-Jan-16 21:44:39

Interesting points Wiz and to me a massive part of the problem with this show and also serial number two on your list but I also think that it focuses so much on the injustice that point 1 doesn't happen. Other may disagree agree with me but both this and serial aren't shows about a dead woman, they are shows about police incompetents.

LovelyFriend Wed 20-Jan-16 21:48:30

I've just started watching it so am reserving judgement.

I was impressed at the 18 year sentence for rape though. That doesn't happen in UK does it?

TheSteveMilliband Wed 20-Jan-16 23:31:20

Sorry, got distracted but really interesting replies. FAS does sound plausible. Wizwo you have articulated so well why I feel uneasy about this. I agree that believing his ex was abused does not equal SA being guilt of murder and share concerns about questioning of a vulnerable person, not even adult, without someone to safeguard his rights. But I think wizwo has it spot on that this is entertainment, and that the victim is lost in this. I don't buy that this is all about procedure and bigger issues of the legal system in the USA, the programme is in my opinion heavily biased (the incidents in episode one were glossed over - dowsing a cat in petrol and setting it alight, driving his cousin off the road and threatening her with a shotgun, threatening letters to his partner all presented as if minor issues). It is entertainment and a presentation of the defence case. I feel so sorry for her family having to deal with this.

Cellardoor1 Thu 21-Jan-16 01:27:58

The FAS theory is interesting IShouldBeSoLurky. I did think when watching that a lot of the family members look like alcoholics/heavy drinkers.

Badonna Thu 21-Jan-16 03:00:00

I suppose it doesn't matter much, but the filmmakers were woman (lesbians, I believe) and the executive producer is also a woman. The filmmakers didn't know this was going to be a Netflix hit when they started, and I do believe American tv would absolutely have covered a child murder the same way. It doesn't strike me at all as violence against a woman as entertainment.

People's responses to the ex and some of the more sensational followups seem to be just that, however.

One thing I noticed in the documentary was that except for his first female lawyer, all of the educated women in the film (journalists, forensic specialists, etc.) are heavily made up whereas the working class women in Avery's town bear few trappings of mainstream feminine grooming outside of maybe having long hair and wearing simple jewelry like small gold crosses. This is the same in most countries, I guess, and was one the most interesting parts of the series to me.

FreshwaterSelkie Thu 21-Jan-16 06:26:34

Mmm, I do get the point about using dead women as entertainment, and that they are viewed as of secondary importance to the men, but then again, men overwhelmingly commit more violent crime than women. It'd be hard to make a documentary about a woman committing potentially two very serious crimes, because it'd be much rarer. And it wouldn't be the same story. I think the story that the documentary makers wanted to make was about much more than violence - it's about poverty, alienation, the justice system, corruption, stunted lives, loss, loyalty...

Agree with the strong possibility of FAS, I had thought that too. The whole family has some significant problems.

If I were accused of a crime, I'd want Dean Strang to be my lawyer. He's fabulous! So passionate, so committed, so thorough ( and strangely sexy )

FreshwaterSelkie Thu 21-Jan-16 06:37:29

further thought - I also think that the fact that Steven Avery is not a "nice" person is part of the point. He's an animal-abusing, probably wife-beating petty criminal from a dysfunctional family who have likely made their neighbours lives miserable for years. He still doesn't deserve to be locked up for 18 years for a crime he didn't commit, then be persecuted by the police and framed for a crime he might not have committed. The test of a just society is surely how it treats its least acceptable members? There were a number of other suspects in the frame who were just never investigated, because the police were conviced so early on it was him (what about the shifty ex, the brothers, Scott Tadych and Bobby Dassy? all plausible suspects, but never taken seriously by the police).

The bones were moved from a site three-quarters of a mile away from his house to just outside it - isn't it much more likely that someone did that to frame him, because why would he have done that? And how did he manage to cleanse his trailer and garage of all traces of Teresa's blood and DNA, but not his own? Too many questions, and because of the tack the police took, all probably unanswerable now.

TheSteveMilliband Thu 21-Jan-16 07:15:01 interesting article here]]

TheSteveMilliband Thu 21-Jan-16 07:15:48

Link fail...

IShouldBeSoLurky Thu 21-Jan-16 12:33:13

badonna That's an interesting point about grooming too. There's no feminist way to say this but I think the reality is that a conventionally physically attractive woman who was well groomed and managed not to get pregnant while still in high school would have an out from that society, so it's almost like the ones that aren't and/or do are the ones that get stuck behind.

TheWomanInTheWall Thu 21-Jan-16 17:09:58

In what way, lirky?

IShouldBeSoLurky Thu 21-Jan-16 19:04:22

Was that to me, womaninthewall?

What I meant was that in poor communities, beauty is an important currency for women (actually it is in all communities). Along with getting a good education and not getting pregnant very young, it gives them the chance to move on to something better. So, very likely, the women who don't move on and end up stuck living what look like pretty godawful lives are the ones who aren't particularly beautiful, don't succeed at school and/or have children very young.

TheWomanInTheWall Thu 21-Jan-16 19:40:26


But... Why does marrying get them out of the community?

TheWomanInTheWall Thu 21-Jan-16 19:41:11

Or did you mean modelling or something?

Gunting Thu 21-Jan-16 19:45:41

I also thought of FAS while watching this or potentially lead poisoning. They eat and drink off land which has hundreds of cars sat on it.

Either way, yes they did seem quick to gloss over any animal cruelty/violent behaviour or make them seem like just average teenager japes.

IShouldBeSoLurky Thu 21-Jan-16 19:51:14

Marrying "up", yes, modelling maybe. Clearly if they marry the boy from the next-door farm they won't!

I'm sure lack of time, money and aspiration plays a huge part in their non-groomedness too, though. (She says, slobbing around in no make-up, unbrushed hair and no bra.)

TheSteveMilliband Thu 21-Jan-16 19:52:10

Freshwater, I didn't get that impression from the show. I thought they portrayed the family as loveable hillbillies who sometimes crossed a line with law enforcement - accepting SAs explanation of "accidentally" tossing a cat on the fire, being "provoked" into driving his cousins car off the road (because of course her allegations were made up and he couldn't be expected to tolerate them). His threats to kill his wife , just a tiff between two people under stress from his imprisonment.
I can't see any way of describing this but minimising his violence against women.

I don't doubt there were issues with the procedure and tragic he was imprisoned for 18 yrs for a crime he didn't commit but..... find the discussion / accusations about her family, (brother looks guilty apparently, on basis of no evidence at all) really quite shocking. Apparently this man with a clear history of violence is more deserving of the presumption of innocence than the victims brother who can be convicted by media on the basis of looking "a bit shifty". Where is his presumption of innocence?

Don't get me wrong, I think there are shocking and important things raised - most importantly the disadvantage of being poor and of low intelligence like BD. That is a problem through the the USA, not just in Manitowoc and I think anger would be better aimed at a system which doesn't demand an "appropriate adult" for vulnerable people being interviewed by police and substandard legal representation for those who can't afford the Dean Strangs - a shocking number of whom are African American (who must be thinking "yes, and...? You're surprised by this?")

MissyMaker Thu 21-Jan-16 19:56:32

The whole series makes very uncomfortable viewing (yet I still watched). Teresa was somehow lost in it all, but that is the fault of the police and DA. They are the people who completely let her down and failed to investigate the circumstances of her death, such was their intent on pinning it on Avery. Even if he was guilty, he should not have been found guilty in court based on the evidence the prosecution provided.

The Averys et al are clearly a troubled and troubling family. However, that should not have meant that they be victimised in such a way. Had they not been, then Teresa may have received justice.

FreshwaterSelkie Fri 22-Jan-16 06:39:03

I can't disagree with how you've framed it, Steve. I wonder how it would have looked if they had taken a more feminist slant? If they had made more of his undoubted history of violence, what would the documentary have looked like? Less or more powerful? I know the lack of justice won't come as any surprise to those who've experienced it, particularly BME americans, and it would be great to see a similarly powerful documentary looking at that issue too (Serial/Undisclosed is interesting in this respect I think).

It's a question I often wrestle with- if I restricted my viewing only to tv and movies with faultless feminist credentials that pass the Bechdel test with flying colours, I suspect I would not watch a lot of tv...for example, I really do enjoy a lot of Game of Thrones, but then they throw in some gratuitous rape scene and it all gets ruined. What would feminist TV even look like? And how do we get it? And while we're waiting, how do we entertain ourselves...?!

TheSteveMilliband Fri 22-Jan-16 10:24:37

That made me laugh fresh, yes life would be pretty dull if we only watched approved feminist shows.
Still good to call it out when it happens though. It's an interesting point about how the show would have come across if it had highlighted this more. I actually think it would have been more powerful - maybe not in terms of viewing numbers, but in terms of impact in significant ways - on policy for example. I think what can be seen as imbalance makes it easier to dismiss the program as one sided or down to one or two bent cops /villains rather than a systemic issue. I also think most viewers are smart enough to deal with ambiguity and the conflict that a violent man with a history of violence towards women accused of the violent murder of a woman still needs basic legal principals applied including burden of proof and presumption of innocence. The online response to his ex fiancées allegations of domestic violence were horrific examples of victim blaming and think film makers have to carry some responsibility for that.
I listened to a bit of serial (was he 2nd generation Pakistani? but still an all American, football playing middle class boy). Haven't heard of undisclosed, will need to have a look.

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