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11th October 2016

Feature: Monsters and the Femme fatale

Chilling Netflix documentary Amanda Knox exhibits the blatant persecution of women who have sex
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The chilling new Netflix documentary, Amanda Knox, aims to challenge the public’s obsession with real life crime, but ends up exhibiting the blatant persecution of women who have sex. The documentary–directed by Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn—details the investigation of the murder of Meredith Kercher, while exposing the cruel and chaotic nature of our culture of obsession.

The harrowing footage at the beginning of the film is a somber reminder of the murder of Meredith, often completely overshadowed by the speculation regarding Amanda Knox. We see a red hand print on the wall, a blood-stained bra, and dark, deep pools of blood coming from underneath the sheets covering Meredith’s body; the work of what one could only assume was a monster. Over this chilling reveal of the original crime scene, Amanda begins to speak. She begins to explain the lack of ‘in-between,’ when it comes to her judgement and why perhaps she became a symbol of both fear and vulnerability. In this explanation emerges the film’s tagline ‘either I’m a psychopath in sheep’s clothing, or I am you,’ an introduction to key elements of the investigation that enabled and, in fact, contributed to the demonisation of Knox.

The opening sequence points at the media. ‘Were you into deviant sex? …experimental activities?’ are the words of one reporter interrogating Knox. Obsession with Knox’s sex life became a crucial aspect of the media frenzy and trial, despite it having little to do with the investigation. Headlines and statements eager to depict Knox as a sex-crazed murderer are key to the documentary’s scrutiny of the press.

At the heart of this portrayal is Nick Pisa, Daily Mail Reporter. It would be too easy to mock his contribution to the speculation; working for a newspaper which applauds unethical journalism and malicious gossip. Throughout the documentary Pisa reminds himself of the success of the story, often becoming giddy and at one point compares getting the world exclusive front cover story of Kercher’s autopsy report to ‘having sex’. He frames Knox as a ‘nutter,’ an assumption made from a picture of Knox from her Myspace page. Knox, in an attractive yellow dress, sits behind a machine gun pulling a funny face. The picture is quite clearly posed and intended to be viewed as humorous, but Pisa among other journalists used this as evidence of both Knox’s sexual deviance and mental instability.

Makers of the documentary highlight the extent of Pisa’s stupidity following the declaration of Knox’s and Raffaele Sollecito’s innocence. Pisa says, completely ignorant of his own guilt, there was ‘no one else to blame but the police,’ and their ‘wild theories.’ (Nod to the composer for the simultaneous hiccup in the melody.)

Also, at the centre of these conspiracies is Prosecutor and Sherlock Home’s fan Giuliano Mignini.  Though amusing, Mignini’s attachment to his pipe only works to parody his ‘traditional’ outlook. Mignini’s accusations are considerably driven by Knox’s sex life. At one point he creates his own script of the night of the murder; saying Amanda is ‘inhibited’, and ‘Meredith must have scolded Amanda for having no morals’. Mignini portrayal consists of not only footage from the investigation but also of original, almost caricature, clips of him parading through the streets with pride or hanging his head in shame. The film chooses to highlight Mignini’s religious beliefs in his departure, capturing him walking through a grand church whilst he reminds the guilty of the final trial we all must face.

Perhaps most daunting are the young and fresh-faced images of Amanda compared to the Amanda before us, who appears drawn and humourless. Amanda lost her youth and innocence to a case that constantly heralded her as a sex-crazed maniac who killed her ‘prudent’ flat mate, whilst Meredith was lost amidst a monster hunt.

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