The Black Dahlia Murder and You
TRIGGER WARNING: graphic image included.
I DON'T TYPICALLY TALK ABOUT SERIAL MURDERERS, but when I do, chances are Freddie Highmore is probably involved.
Okay, to be fair, I've only written a post about serial murderers this one time. But I--like plenty of other people, probably--am SUPER interested in them, possibly because they are really interesting. And I'm not the only one--loads of people are intrigued by serial murderers. We whisper things about them in the same way we talk about a pretty girl's suicide--like ghost stories that permeate our towns, like attractive mysteries to be solved, like they're only stories.
Part of this is likely because our media sensationalizes serial murderers and suicides. But the other part of it is likely because murder is a delicious, faraway topic for most people, and so we have a difficult time understanding why it is that a serial murderer kills--or why they have an MO.
Like--take the Black Dahlia murder, for instance. The Black Dahlia was a nickname given to Elizabeth Short, a woman murdered in 1947 here in LA in a distinct, ultra-creepy way: drained of blood, clean, and in two pieces.
I want to start here by mentioning that Elizabeth Short was found a twenty-eight minute drive from my house. Twenty-seven, if you take [the] 134. By public transport, from Del Mar Station (a five-minute drive from my house), you could take the Gold Line, walk a little bit, and then take a bus.
It's creepy to think about: there was a young woman, only five years younger than I am right now, who looks a little bit like me, who was brutally murdered a train and a bus ride away from me seventy years ago. My first thought is curiosity; there's something in me that wants to know how, what the murderer did, exactly, and of course--why.
But Freddie Highmore, as you may have guessed, has nothing to do with the Black Dahlia murder. Well, unless you count the fact that he co-starred in a series with Vera Farmiga, sister of Taissa Farmiga, who starred in American Horror Story, who once featured an episode in Series One, "Murder House," that featured an episode on the Black Dahlia murder.
And the show that he starred in with Vera Farmiga is Bates Motel, the prequel to Psycho.
Psycho, for those of you who don't know, is based on the life of Ed Gein, notorious Wisconsin murderer who dug up his unsuspecting victims and wore their skin. He was only confirmed for two murders, but several more are suspected, plus he exhumed several graves and robbed them.
Gein's mum, an abused woman who clung to her Lutheran faith as a coping mechanism, believed all women were prostitutes and passed this information on to her sons as fervently as she could. In the show "Bates Motel," Norman (based on Gein, played by Highmore)'s mother is an abused woman who clings to a too-close relationship with her son as a coping mechanism, therefore ingraining certain unusual expectations within his psyche and getting jealous of anyone who wanted to date him. Norman, who also has a history of unchecked blackouts during which he's committed accidental acts of violence, eventually develops a case of disassociative identity disorder (DID, formerly understood as "MPD," or multiple personality disorder) and goes on to commit several horrific and secretive murders, racking up his own death toll throughout the series.
The most interesting part of serial murder seems to be how normal everything seems going in. In the '90s we were all fed these happy-life sitcom stories about four- and five-person families who all loved each other in the end and were generally functional, but most of us have extremely dysfunctional families about which we only whisper behind closed doors to overly trusted friends. In fact, this is how we bond and make friends--by confiding about our fucked-up families together, and knowing that we're not alone.
Gein and Norman Bates were reportedly "nice young men" who seemed totally normal and genial on the outside, keeping up this Americana pretense of idyllic white malehood. After a series of events where parents and other community members shame these young men into not reaching out for perfectly respectable resources, like socializing and confiding in other people and therapy, they eventually crack and go on murderous rampages, which sounds eerily similar to the story that plenty of "nice young white boys" go through when shooting up schools in modern-day America.
I get a lot of flack for being a little too personal and cutting through the bullshit, swearing too much, talking too easily about my sexuality and mental disorders and various other crap--but this is the kind of stuff that (I've noticed) allows people to feel comfortable talking about the unusual shit they've been through. I do wonder if these conversations are enough to prevent serial murderers from forming.
PART OF THIS COMPLETE BREAKFAST
Blog not recommended for sober consumption.