Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Internet and Mob Mentality

Recently, I've been saddened by some of the things I've seen online. Scratch that. For a long time I've been saddened by some of the things I've seen online.

There's a mob mentality that can come with things that reach popular culture status. As an example, let's talk about say... boybands. Back in the day, a million years ago when I was a kid, I loved Take That. They were HUGE. In a very Beatlemania way, teenage girls screamed and cried when they saw them, they put their posters up, they discussed which member they liked the best with their friends. When a member of that band got a girlfriend and it made the news, people just had to deal. Not saying there wasn't a degree of, "Hey, Robbie Williams is dating another pop star, we hate her now." It happened. But that was it. Because there was no Facebook or Twitter for people to spew their outrage into the world.

These days, One Direction (for example) haven't had the same level of privacy. One of them gets a girlfriend, and all of sudden that girl is getting messages of hate, and teenage girls are yelling their frustration into the Twittersphere because... they can. And when one person sees another person with the same thought, they retweet each other. And then someone else who agrees sees it. Another retweet. And then another, and another until people start thinking, "Well, if this many people agree with me, a) I must be right and b) it's okay for me to verbally attack a person I don't know just because I have a platform to do so."

Most recently, Liam Payne of 1D (allegedly) began dating Cheryl Cole. The abuse she received about this is mindblowing.

Now, let's swing this around to my new favourite subject: Making a Murderer. 

I have said before that it's important to remember that the people in the documentary are REAL people. This is not a fictional story. They are real the same way One Direction and Cheryl Cole are real. Yet somehow, just because they are in the public eye, suddenly they are fair game to be attacked by anyone with a social media account.

We all have our on theories and opinions, and it's absolutely okay to talk about them and discuss them. But what I'm finding more and more frustrating is the amount of certainty people are throwing their theories around with.

Let's look at some instances of things that came up since the documentary that relate to Steven Avery. Those who think he killed Teresa Halbach became obsessed with the evidence not presented in Making a Murderer. They said the fact Steven Avery used *67 when he called Halbach meant he was trying to hide his identity (how that would even work is beyond me. If she answered the phone, what was he going to say? If he wanted her at his house, he'd have to tell her where she was going, and since she'd been there before...). They said that the documentary hid the fact that Avery once opened the door to Halbach only wearing a towel so that must mean something horribly sinister. And then the infamous thing about "sweat DNA" which meant the documentary purposely tried to hide this thing that isn't even a thing.

If you look at any evidence, you can twist it any way you want to make someone LOOK guilty. "Steven Avery gave a false name to lure Halbach to his property."
"Steven Avery had leg irons and handcuffs in his room so he must have planned to do this all along."
"Someone said Avery planned to make a torture chamber so he could torture women."
These are just a few examples of things that could make him appear guilty if nobody bothers to question them properly.

What was Making a Murderer about? Wasn't part of it about the unfairness? About how the police leapt to conclusions the second Steven Avery's name was linked with Teresa Halbach, and the damage this has done to two men?

So... knowing how enraged people are about this, why are so many piecing together information they've found and saying, "THIS PERSON DID IT! I CAN PROVE IT!" Well, if you actually can prove it, great. But unless you have 100% solid evidence that puts that person in the frame, you don't have proof; you have an opinion.

I could give a list of names of people who could be suspects, but they can't all have done it. That means that 99% of that list, and maybe even 100%, would be innocent. People's reputations are being dented on maybes and what ifs.

The presumption of innocence is what Steven Avery never had. That's one of the reasons people were so upset by his story. So why are people treating others the same way Avery was treated?

And now you're thinking... what does Making a Murderer have to do with all that crap about Take That and One Direction? Well, it's this. When people club together to throw insults and attacks at a celebrity, it can lead to a massive snowball of hate which gathers more and more momentum until people notice, and until people start to believe. The same thing is happening with MaM. One person says, "I have found a piece of evidence that says (insert name) killed Teresa Halbach." And another person sees it and says, "You know... I thought that too." Retweet. "Oh my God, them too?! Wow, maybe there's something in this." Maybe a quick internet search to dig up some other "evidence" to back it up. Retweet. "Whoa... this is looking like it can't be a coincidence now." Retweet. And so on and so forth. Before you know it, someone who may be perfectly innocent is being pointed out as a murderer, and when they're harmlessly wandering down the street, people are shouting things at them accusing them. Damaging a reputation that shouldn't be damaged.

If people throw stones, others get hurt. Except accusing someone of murder is less of a stone and more of a gigantic rock. So before you pick up your next rock, ready to hurl it at some unsuspecting victim, you'd best be sure you're throwing it at the right person, and that you have more than hearsay to back it up.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Weirdest 'Making a Murderer' Merchandise

Okay, it's been a while since I wrote a brand new Making a Murderer post, and while this topic has been kind of covered by others, I thought it was time to refresh it because new stuff pops up all the time, and frankly, this level of weird needs to be shared. So, let's jump right in and look at the weirdest Making a Murderer merchandise currently on offer!

1. Making a Murderer Dreamboat Collection
Now, even the name of this product is worthy of a giggle, but when you look closer at what this is... well... this is a pair of Dean and Jerry earrings. One lawyer for each ear. There is a LOT of Strang and Buting merch out there, but this is one of the oddest things I've seen because I'm just not sure how you would explain to people who have never seen MaM why you have the faces of two different men hanging off your earlobes. On the other hand, they would be quite the conversation starter...

2. Kratzy University t-shirt
Never before have two words become more linked than Kratz and sweat. A variety of memes have depicted this, but this t-shirt kicks things up another notch because declaring oneself as a "sweaty prize" is bizarre to say the least! Also, the idea of a Kratz university... what would one learn there? I'm gonna resist the urge to take a cheap shot - but feel free to fill in the blanks! ;)

3. Steven Avery embroidery
Okay... someone has gone to the effort of making this Steven Avery embroidery, and anyone who is brave enough to put their work out into the world should be applauded. However, it is still pretty freakin' odd to hang a 5inch Steven Avery on your wall . That said, it's still a million times better than Eugene Kusche's sketch!

4. Steven Avery colouring book

Adult colouring books are quite the big deal these days. According to many, getting your felt tips out and colouring in some pretty patterns is a relaxing pastime, guaranteed to lower stress. But you know what doesn't lower stress? MAKING A MURDERER! Injustice. The reminder that while you're sitting there idly colouring, the man in the picture is still in jail. This isn't as much weird as it is outright ridiculous, but... whatever floats your boat!

4. Making a Murderer Minimalist Movie Poster 

Aaand we're back to things to hang on the wall - let's take a look at this little humdinger! This, right here, is a picture of one of the most infuriating pieces of "evidence" in the entire documentary. That damn key has been the topic of more discussions than a Kim Kardashian nude selfie, so having a reminder of it every time you look up from reading the trial transcripts...? Yeah...thanks, but no thanks.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

10 Signs You're Obsessed With 'Making a Murderer'

1. You wake up in the morning, and the first thing you do is Google Steven Avery, Making a Murderer, and/or Brendan Dassey before you do anything else.

2. You get irritated when people who think Steven Avery is guilty tell you to “read the trial transcripts.” But you’ve read them. And you still think the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department is (or was at the time) full of liars. 
3. You also get irritated when people smugly tell you that by focusing on certain aspects of the case, you’re missing the point of the documentary, when actually, you’re perfectly capable of understanding what it was about. Trying to piece together the facts of what happened to Teresa Halbach doesn’t make you any less aware of the point of the documentary. 
4. You’ve used the term “Lenk’d”. 


5. You’ve woken up in the middle of the night thinking about the injustices shown in the documentary. (Bonus points if you’ve actually got up in the middle of the night because you REALLY couldn’t get back to sleep.)
6.  You’ve trawled through Reddit theories and possibly posted your own. 
7. You can no longer hear the words, “What’s going on here?” without also hearing it in Jerome Buting’s voice. 


8. You have had lengthy discussions over whether you’re a Strang girl or a Buting girl. Or, you’ve had had lengthy discussions over which of the gorgeous news reporter ladies you prefer.
9. You have high appreciation for the people who make Making a Murderer memes for giving you a chuckle while you’re getting stressed out reading the trial transcripts.


10. You can’t see a picture or read an article relating to Ken Kratz without uttering some very bad words. 


Yeah, that was a test, sorry ;)

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Did Kathleen Zellner Take a Swipe at Steven Avery’s Former Lawyers?

EDIT: Thanks to Twitter's magic delete button, this tweet has now vanished - but the screencaps have already been taken.


This is the tweet that got people talking within seconds of its appearance in the Twittersphere early this evening. Although somewhat lacking in total clarity, the general consensus seems to be that Kathleen Zellner, Steven Avery's current lawyer, is sharing Avery's thoughts on the news that his former attorneys, Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, are planning a US tour.
Kathleen Zellner has been busting her butt to prove Steven Avery's innocence since she first got involved with his case, and has been extremely vocal, not to mention often cryptic, with her tweets, giving updates on the investigation, and on Avery himself. However, there have been murmurs amongst sceptics that Zellner might be all about the publicity, and claims that her constant "updates" could be viewed as unethical are not uncommon. Today's tweet might have taken those claims up a notch.
Nobody can deny Zellner's record for overturning wrongful convictions. In that area, she's quite the firecracker, and if she can get Steven Avery out, she WILL be a hero. But up until just five days ago, it was still being reported that Strang and Buting were "informally involved in working for Steven." In interviews, Dean Strang said that he and Jerry had even SEEN Steven Avery as recently as December. So why this sudden side swipe by Avery at the two men who fought so hard for him during his trial? And why did Zellner feel the need to share this information with the world?
Just two days ago, Jerry Buting tweeted SUPPORT for Zellner.


Regardless of whether people believe Zellner's tweets up until today have been professional, this one may well cross the line - which could explain why it got deleted so fast.
Just for the heck of it, let's take a little look at the way Strang and Buting have conducted themselves.
Remember that moment in Making a Murderer when a reporter asked Dean Strang if Ken Kratz's questioning of Bobby Dassey during the trial equated to misconduct, Strang said, "I'm not here to throw stones." When asked what he thought about Ken Kratz's upcoming book, Strang said, "I think the world needs more books, not fewer, in general." (With perfect grammar too, might I add!). Ken Kratz was the opposition - and yet Strang never once took a single opportunity to criticise him. Zellner herself may not have been the one to make this dig at Strang and Buting - it appears she was acting as a mouthpiece for Steven Avery - but it was entirely her call on whether or not to share it with her 139,000 followers.
Just to reiterate - nobody is questioning Zellner’s track record or her dedication to Steven Avery's case. However, her judgement of what to tweet... well, that one is still up for debate.

EDIT: Since writing this, Kathleen Zellner herself took a shot at Strang and Buting. To say this pissed off their supporters is an understatement, however Dean Strang - once again - showed why he and Jerry are so well-loved by saying this: “That she is criticizing some aspects of the work I did at trial means that she is doing her job.”

You see? It is, in fact, possible to be successful without crapping all over other people. 

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The Best Lighthearted Moments in 'Making a Murderer'

The Netflix documentary Making a Murderer has taken the world by storm since it hit our screens last December. The story of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey has been the cause of much debate and discussion, and has seen an uprising of armchair sleuths eager to figure out exactly what happened to Teresa Halbach on October 31st 2005. 

Let’s be clear here - there is nothing lighthearted about the subject matter. However, what the documentary makers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos did well was inject a touch of lightness here and there, because let’s face it, most people’s stress levels reached a peak while viewing Making a Murderer. So, with that in mind, here is a look at some of the moments that allowed viewers a little smile (and occasionally a giggle) in between the seriousness.
7. Remember this lady? This is Reesa Evans, Steven Avery’s appointed lawyer back in 1985. We saw her a few times through the series, and in comparison with the other lawyers, she was somewhat more… laid back with her speech, let’s say. This moment of honesty was one that stuck in a lot of people’s minds and pretty much reflected everyone’s thoughts when the verdicts came in. 

6. That moment when you find a hole in a blood vial and immediately call your partner to let them know. The sheer joy on Jerry Buting’s (affectionately known here as J-Butes :p ) face brought a smile to many viewers because this looked like a major turning point in Steven Avery’s favour.

5. Another moment from Mr. Buting that made us giggle was this little bit of mocking on his way home from a hard day of… lawyering. Also, if you haven’t already, you really should follow Jerry on Twitter (@JButing) - he’s not only interesting, he also has excellent banter with his followers!

4. The look on Dean Strang’s (D-Strang - affectionate term :p) face here is awesome. Everything about him is saying, “I am SO over your crap, Colborn.” What’s missing from this GIF is the way he then very coolly replays the tape and watches Colborn squirm. 

3. This one comes in the form of a video, because, firstly I couldn’t find a GIF and secondly, it needs to be heard because it’s freaking hilarious. Yup, it’s the aliens. How Kucharski even had the balls to say, “It’s possible in the sense that aliens put it there,” will always amuse me, but not as much as Jerry’s epic, “There weren’t any aliens in the room, right?” Burn. 

2. This moment came after Bobby Dassey’s messed up testimony about “the joke” that he wasn’t actually supposed to be talking about. When Mr. Strang stepped out to speak to reporters, and someone blurted out, “What the hell happened?” - this was the result. The reason this Making a Murderer moment was so welcome was not only because it came after a very serious moment, but because this smile showed a lighter side to Mr. Strang we didn’t get to see enough of. (Plus, he’s adorable!)

1. Without a doubt, this was the best moment of happy in the whole documentary. The first episode was harrowing to watch, hearing the full story of everything Steven Avery went through, so his homecoming was a joy to see. It’s hard to imagine there’s a person in the world who didn’t laugh out loud when Steven was asked who that baby was and he said, “I don’t know.”

We thank Ricciardi and Demos for these moments of lightness that made Making a Murderer that little bit easier to take and allowed us a brief break from the overwhelming emotions we felt while watching.

Originally posted on my Tumblr blog