I was very interested to read that Amanda Knox was released from prison after serving four years for the murder of Meredith Kercher. When her name first hit the papers she was dubbed as Foxy Knoxy and the media portrayed pruriently her as a sex mad young woman. Of even more interest to me was the recent furore over Matthew Wright’s
decision to host an episode of his discussion show in which he asked if people would sleep with Knox.
The case is interesting for several reasons, firstly for the level of hypocrisy and disgrace it evidences in the Italian establishment for the missentencing and time spent in prison. The Italians may have known all along that Knox was not the decision maker in the killing, but may have been hoisted by the petard of their own due process, a
fact that would have caused most of the consternation around the world that make the case get so much media attention to begin with. The second really interesting thing about the case is the way Amanda Knox has been portrayed in the media as Foxy Knoxy.
There could well be an argument that for several years now the media has been hypnotised and flat out fascinated by a string of young women utterly losing any connection with reality and going on eleaongated expeditions of sexual activity, often coupled with violent or criminal enterprise. Knox with her murder conviction is one, Amy Winehouse with her addiction to illegal drugs is another, and Britney Spears with her car crash moments of public mental ill health is a third.
Many comments have been made about the existence of a feral media. Nomrally this refers to the unruly way journalists and paparazzi deport themselves when following around public figures or camping outside their houses. More generally it can refer to the licance the media gives itself to discuss peoples private lives and cast aspersions of peoples reputations as if they are deranged, demented guardians of some infantile, oversexed, psychotic public interest. The trick is not to view the media as the sum of its newspaper
articles and radio and TV output, but as a group of people writing and producing media output, who are attuned to the role of the media in society and psychologically trained to conceptualise a media gestalt that they produce into being through their physical output. One wonders about these individual’s psychologies, and if they are not in some private parts of their minds fully conversant with the darks nights of the souls these young women go through, and if this knowledge is what evidences itself through some kind of institutional fascination with damanged young women doing evils things to their own and other people’s bodies and minds.
I suppose in conclusion I should make a tentative suggestion about media employees. It is often said that employes in difficult professions such as firemen, police officers and social workers often see so much of people’s inhumanity to other people that some of them end up being burned out and becoming quite affected by the evil they see. It has been said that you should battle not with monsters lest you become a monster, and that when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares into you. I do sometimes wonder if feral media employees, in dehumanising young impressionable celebrities into the warped intrernal logic of being in the celebrity system, don’t sometimes get warped by that logic themselves. I would be interested in finding out if, in much the same way as police ofiicers who deal with criminals too much end up being corrupted by their worldviews,
media employees who get too know the dark side of people’s public and private lives too well don’t end up losing it themselves. One can only hope that if that were to happen, or if it has happened in the past, that the media did not devour them too.