I've been writing some posts about infamous criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, and Clyde's older brother, Buck, and his wife Blanche, which you can read HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Today's question is What is it about criminals that fascinates people?
In this case, is it because of Bonnie And Clyde, released in 1967 and starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway?
Some people probably didn't know about Bonnie and Clyde until the movie came out and glamorized them, but a lot of folks were interested in Bonnie and Clyde long before 1967. Any memorabilia connected with them sells for big bucks. The car in which they were shot to death by Texas Rangers is on display at a casino in Las Vegas.
But what's glamorous about this?
As soon as people in the nearest town heard that Bonnie and Clyde had been killed, souvenir hunters headed out to the spot and surrounded the car. They cut off blood-soaked pieces of Bonnie and Clyde's clothes. Someone tried to cut off Clyde's left ear. Reportedly, a man offered to buy Clyde's corpse.
My answer to today's question is that I like history, especially learning the true story behind a trumped-up story told in a movie. I'll read about Bonnie and Clyde, and then I'll move on to learning about someone else. I read a lot of non-fiction, especially about U.S. Presidents. I like biographies of writers who interest me, or their memoirs.
I simply cannot imagine running out to see a car in which two people had been killed and trying to get pieces of their bloody clothes.
And what about serial killers from more recent times? While Ted Bundy was on Death Row, he received numerous letters from women who wanted to marry him. John Wayne Gacy took up painting while he was on Death Row. Following his execution, some of his paintings reportedly sold for thousands of dollars.
Why would anyone want to marry Ted Bundy? Who wants to own a painting by John Wayne Gacy?
So, what do you think? What is it about criminals that fascinates people?
As always, I eagerly await your responses. Based on your comments, I think you're all interested in the Bonnie-and-Clyde story behind the story. But do you know anyone who seems to have what we might consider an unhealthy interest in a criminal?
Infinities of love,
On a mini-criminal level, I'm fascinated by students who get into trouble at school. For example, there is a sweet, nice, goody two shoes girl who got busted for cheating. She took a picture of her exam and sent it to her friend. She's the last person you'd expect to do that. But her parents are extremely overbearing and competitive. They probably drove her to it. "F*ck you, Ma and Pa!" *Click*ReplyDelete
I think a lot of kids get pushed into stuff by their parents, whether it's cheating on a test or beating up another kid.Delete
This is a very broad topic, Janie. The following are random musings.ReplyDelete
I think people are fascinated with criminals because they bring out the rebel in all of us. Which would you rather read about - a bean counting, rule following brick in the wall - or a risk taking, rule breaking, bad boy legend? Which seems more appealing - spending your life punching a time clock and working for the man to pay your lousy bills - or STICKING it to the man, telling him to "take this job and shove it" and living a life of adventure on the open road (preferably riding a Harley)?
The Sixties counterculture gave rise to the antihero, people who lack traditional heroic qualities. Ever since then, we've had a fascination with flawed nonconformists.
Remember the scene in which Indiana Jones is confronted by an Arab swordsman? A traditional hero would have engaged in a fair fight - a duel with swords, or even allowed his opponent to have the advantage by fighting him bare handed. In that groundbreaking scene, Jones merely pulled out a gun and casually blasted the swordsman.
In their campaigns, politicians depict themselves as "outsiders" - mavericks who fight against the Washington establishment because positioning themselves that way tends to resonate in the heartland.
Jewel thieves, bank robbers and embezzlers are often seen as people who use their cunning to beat the system, take from the rich and give to the poor (themselves). Individuals or gangs that achieve a long and successful career as criminals become folk heroes. We are fascinated with their ability to pull off their heists and elude capture. We put ourselves in their place, envisioning life in the fast lane scoring quick easy cash. We rarely delve into the grim facts about the criminal lifestyle, preferring to embrace the myth perpetuated by movies like Bonnie and Clyde that cast hot looking A list actors like Beatty and Dunaway in the lead roles. Another example is The Getaway (1972) starring Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw. Remember the eyebrow raising scene in which Fran (Sally Struthers), the bored wife of a veterinarian, falls in lust with pistol packing bad boy thug Rudy and winds up having sex with Rudy in front of her humiliated husband who later hangs himself? Remember the old truck driver at the end of the movie (Slim Pickens) who boasts to the McQueen and MacGraw characters that he's been on the wrong side of the law himself? It's as if the average man feels the need to apologize for obeying the law because doing so is regarded as "square."
Another example is the derisive tone used by Varla in Faster, Pussycat! KIll! Kill! when she encounters an average guy who doesn't satisfy her craving for excitement and danger: "You're the All-American Boy, a safety-first Clyde."
Women who are attracted to serial killers believe they can deal with them as they would a stray cat. They believe they can change him with love, understanding and compassion. That belief makes these women feel special and powerful. They fail to realize that they are being used and exploited by him.
As for people who collect bloody artifacts from crime scenes or the artwork of murders - I can't fathom it.
This concludes my rambling, JJ. I hope at least some of it was threadworthy.
Thank you, Dr. Shady! This comment is very enlightening. A lot of girls do like the bad boy.Delete
I haven't a clue what attracts folks to criminals. It seems the more heinous the crime(s), the stronger the attraction. Like moths to a flame...ReplyDelete
I wonder if the element of danger or fear is attractive to some people. It's a bit like wanting to ride on the biggest, most frightening roller coaster in the world.Delete
How fascinating. I've never considered myself fascinated by fame or notoriety, yet there I was, wondering about Blanche's nephew after your last post. It's too late to care about what happens to him; that only leaves me another voyeur. Though, there is something to be said of learning from history.ReplyDelete
He was her adopted son, but she has many relatives -- cousins and their children, who own up to being related to her. Some of them defend her. I think it would be interesting to know Rickey's POV about Blanche and living with her. I couldn't find him with a simple Google search. I think he could make some money with a book. It's interesting that although he was adopted when he was 12, he, too, took up a life of crime. He might not have known about Blanche's past.Delete
Because we all have a 'blood-lust' inside us, as much as you try to deny it. We want to do bad things, but laws and religion and others opinions keep us in check. The battle between the id and the ego. And when someone crosses the line, we become enthralled with the whole thing, even if it discussed us. And though there is the fact of having to be on the run, there is a certain freedom associated with being the bad guy. That aside, I noticed two things about the B&C car. One, the bullet holes don't seem to go all the way through the doors and sides. And two, one of the Texas Rangers used a BAR and, on full automatic, very few people can hold it steady, and that car was peppered by big 30 caliber rounds. That's all!ReplyDelete
You're right -- we all have a desire to at least check out "the dark side". Your comments about the car make me curious. How did someone prove it was THE car? I've seen a short video of the car taken very soon after they were killed. When the driver's side door is opened, the exit points from the bullets are clearly visible. Bonnie is supposed to have suffered a great deal more than Clyde, who was killed very quickly, because bullets passed through him and hit her. After killing Clyde, then they shot the heck out of Bonnie.Delete
I don't have an answer for you but it does amaze me that the worst sort of men in prison, like that Van der Sloot fellow, find women to marry them.ReplyDelete
Truth is always stranger than fiction.Delete
You know Janie, I think it's the risk-taking in which 'criminals' are always involved that attracts us to them. It takes a lot of courage/guts on one hand to do so. I know, it can also be seen as stupidity as well. All depends on what is driving the desire.ReplyDelete
My grandfather was a risk-taker...always running from the cops for at large portion of his life. THAT is another story, for another day.
I believe I recall you mentioning a bootlegger in your family.Delete
People are drawn to notoriety. It's been that way forever.ReplyDelete
I had bootleggers in my family too, but they weren't famous :)
Did you ever run any white lightnin', Rick? I bet you'd be a good bootlegger.Delete
It's a very interesting question. I think those who live outside of societally agreed upon laws fascinate us because it's as unimaginable as being the focus of public scrutiny like a celebrity. The question the rest of your post brings up is, When does fascination give way to morbidity? Where is the line between being interested in true crime cross into admiration of the damned?ReplyDelete
What line do you have to cross to want to marry Ted Bundy?Delete
I think people are attracted to the Bad Boy image but forget that there's actual badness there. The romanticized notion of hanging out with a rebel who doesn't kowtow to The Man would certainly be shot down (no pun intended) by the reality of always living on the run with a guy who's too sleazy to bother earning his way.ReplyDelete
Wanting to marry a known serial killer is, as they say in my hick hometown, "a whole 'nother animal."
Bonnie was really miserable and in a lot of pain during her last months with Clyde. Blanche said Bonnie stayed drunk most of the time. Reality was too much for her.Delete
Hi Janie .. well I totally agree .. I cannot be for one moment be interested - there's obviously something seriously wrong somewhere - both with the criminal and with those bounty hunters ...ReplyDelete
We've got one running on our mainstream tv screens right now - and to me it's completely unnecessary ... I don't do it, don't follow it and am not interested ..
I interviewed a couple of bounty hunters once for an article. They were creepy. I was terrified.Delete
I have no clue why women (especially) flock to the prisons and want to be prison wives. Screwy wiring is all I can figure. I did date a bad boy in high school. He was 20 (yes...dropped out and later came back) and my parents would have had kittens had they known about him. He was actually very sweet to me though and didn't even try and steal my virginity, although he did tease me about it. My very first boyfriend ended up being a serial rapist and went to prison. My mom freaked out and thought he'd come looking for me. I'm like, "Mom, I made out with him when I was 14. I'm sure he doesn't even remember me." No one ever does.ReplyDelete
My first boyfriend is dead.Delete
Maybe it has to do with thrill-seeking adrenaline junkies. I can't imagine why anyone in their right mind would want to have anything to do with a criminal!ReplyDelete
People are strange. I know because Jim Morrison sang the song.Delete
It depends on the criminal. Bonnie Clyde maybe strikes that notion of freedom and anarchy that resides in many people. As far as serial killers. I think it is because we want to understand what makes a person become a monster. I admit I watch anything to do with serial killers. I think it is fascinating from a psychological point of view.ReplyDelete
So many of the serial killers say that the only time they felt anything was when they were killing.Delete
I think there's a part of us that is fascinated and/or scared by humanity's dark side. Wanting souvenirs or to actually marry a notorious criminal...maybe that is just dark attracted to dark a little more than average?ReplyDelete
Now you make me think of people's cruel side, though...and I have always wondered why people flocked to executions?! And went to the coliseum for the fights to the death between humans or humans and animals? And bull fights? And boxing matches? I don't get any of it, to be honest. ???