Titles Are Dumb But So Are Serial Killers

2457 words - 10 pages

In America, violence has always been an integral part of national culture. Crime and bloodshed are glorified both on and off screen. The more disturbing the act of violence, the more enthralled the public seems. The most prolific of crimes, those committed by infamous serial killers, inspire the most attention. As said by Jeff Lindsay, creator of the book series that inspired the wildly-popular television program, Dexter, “We’re sickened and disgusted, but we need to know. And the more we know about the scene, the more we really are horrified” (“Sympathy for the Devils”). Violence, especially committed by this special class of felons, is enthralling. News reports play a role in this strange ...view middle of the document...

His gruesome escapades are juxtaposed against scenes showcasing his opulent yuppie lifestyle in an effort to contrast his apparently normal outside appearance with the man he is at night: someone who says, “I just have to kill a lot of people” (American Psycho). He is characterized as an insecure man who believes that if he blends in, no one will notice the disconnection between his public and private personas. In addition to this, his murder-scenes are often preceded by lengthy commentary on the musical works he plays in the background, which serve to keep the moods of the scenes light and distances the audience from the ongoing carnage. Gabriel Gray, also known by his pseudonym Sylar, of the television show Heroes, kills individuals who possess unique traits, obtained through genetic mutation. His own mutation enables him to understand how minds work and, therefore, he can learn to use the abilities of those he murders. During the episodes in which he appears, Sylar graphically slices off the tops of his victims’ skulls using telekinesis, yet the viewer comes to like him as a character through the portrayal of his past. He is given a troubled childhood, with a humble watchmaker for a father and an overbearing mother whose high expectations of his success sharply contrast his actual achievements. He remarks, “The watchmaker’s son…became a watchmaker. It’s so futile. And I wanted to be…important” (“Six Months Ago”). This enables the writers to bridge the gap between his identity as the mythical “Sylar” and the disturbed Gabriel Gray. Just as both characters exhibit a need to feel like they are special, or above others, each demonstrates a lack of self-control over their compulsions. Bateman claims he has no choice but to kill people, (American Psycho) and Sylar’s genetic “ability” comes with an “overwhelming hunger” that, he says, makes him “covet the powers of others” (“Villains”). Their lack of self-control makes them appear less accountable for their crimes, which gives them an easier path toward redemption. Although he does little good aside from warning one of his potential victims, Bateman’s struggle against his homicidal urges is evident by the end of the film. He says, “There is no catharsis. My punishment continues to allude me” (American Psycho). His actions are left ambiguous even to the audience. Since no one fully believes him, not even viewers, he cannot obtain the forgiveness he seeks. Sylar’s murders, on the other hand, are absolutely certain, yet by the end of the show’s run the viewer is expected to give him the forgiveness that Patrick Bateman never achieved. After repenting for what seems like five years in a dreamlike state with his arch-nemesis, said foe puts everything that Sylar did behind him (“The Wall”). His status as a heroic figure is cemented by the act of rescuing one girl.When his morality is questioned by another of the program’s antagonists, he replies, “No, I’m a hero” (“Brave New World”). He believes that he...

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