7.2.11

On the Meredith Kercher killing movie


There is always a fine balance between informing the public, reporting or presenting a dramatic depiction of events with the aim of stimulating debate and discussion on the one hand - AND - gratuitously exploiting vile crimes and the misery of those touched by them. There have been informative documentaties about crimes, there are drama series about crime investigations (such as the successful CSI franchise) and documentaries - largely factual about other tragic events such as the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The soon to be released film about the tragic and unsavoury death of Meredith Kercher sits somewhere in between the realms of legitimate subject matter and gratuitous and distressing exploitation of subject matter.

This last week saw the parents of murdered Joanna Yates reach out to the parents of Madeleine McCann, meanwhile - as plastered all over the Sun (and other newspapers)- we had the anguish of Meredith Kercher's parents at a film that seemingly graphically depicts how she was slain - even though the exact detail and truch is still unknown.

Does the public at either an informational or sick entertainment level need such dramatisation - what does it bring to the unresolved circumstances or debate?

What troubles Mediabeak about this film is not the concept or fact of making a film about such a seemingly sinister killing but it is its timing - we have three people in jail and all convicted by criminal courts of the crime of murder. None of them have fully accounted for their whereabouts or actions on the night of the murder and have hidden behind the cloak of mystery which, over time and in absence of a full confession, leaves the link between fact - DNA and other unequivocal evidence - and explanation - what actually happened - linked those facts - explained the story - unanswered. This brings me to the relevancy of the Yates' family empathy towards the McCanns - one might not like the horrific facts surrounding the death of one's child but no matter how horrific, at least they provide an end to the story and explanation. Kate and Gerry McCann continue to live in hope that Madeleine may prove to be one of the rare cases where years later the child turns up again. The Yates, horrific and painful though it is, have the closure that some sick ***** has murdered their daughter (the argument about the quikly framed and then released landlord and how that all came about and was reported is another debate and essay in itself - so hopefully for all concerned the DNA evidence and police have it right now).

Where Mediabeak empathises with the Kerchers is - they have three people in prison having been found guilty of the murder of their daughter but none of the three (in spite of confession, DNA or otherwise) has had the character or the compassion to admit to what really went on and happened that fateful night - the Kerchers still have no closure or understanding as to what actually happened.

What the film provides - aside from unsettling graphic depictions of the killing - is doubt and that doubt is badly timed and not substantively reasoned. Given that Amanda Knox (having moved from 'Foxy Knoxy' to murderer to victim) and her erstwhile boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are in the process of appealing their sentences and the third player in the strange triumvirate of fate, Rudy Guede has not said much - a film calling into question the whole case yet providing no answers is at best unhelpful and at worst gratuitous. Naturally Mediabeak has not seen it so can't fully comment so is basing this on reasonable assumption.

So Kerchers parents are right to be upset as all they have here is a film that will cash in on the questions and provide no answers.

Italian contempt of court laws are not framed in such a way as to catch the distribution of the film in the wake of a pending appeal but even if they could be engaged they would jurisdictionally limited and the internet would - as it has already done - prove to undo their seeming protection. Similarly in the UK, we already have contempt laws in need of urgent overhaul and were the case being held here one could argue the film to be unhelpful but it would not necessarily qualify as something that created a substantial risk of prejudice - especially at an appeal stage.

So the sad summary position is that the media are cashing in on the Kerchers outrage, the film will be cashing in on the tragic tale of their daughter's death and legally speaking there is little or nothing to offer in this mix. One can only hope that as was the case with Madeleine McCann, has ben the case with Jo Yates and was also the case with Meredith Kercher, that the moral outrage and empathy of the public will in some way compensate for the failings of the justice system and shortcomings of the film and media industries who exploit tragedy for commercial gain.

Mediabeak was uncomfortable with the reporting of the case back in 2008

No comments: