Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Heated Debate: Lifetime vs. 'Foxy Knoxy'

by Stacy Dittrich

Let’s face it. An international murder mystery that has been followed by millions will ultimately catch the eyes of filmmakers wanting to cash in. Lifetime television is airing a movie later this month based on the Amanda Knox case. “Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy,” (promo photo left) debuts February 21, much to the dismay of the murder victim’s father, John Kercher.

In a recap, Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede all received between 16- and 26-year sentences in the brutal and violent murder of Meredith Kercher. However, the voracious debate regarding Knox’s guilt rages on. “Foxy Knoxy,” as she has been deemed by the media, is currently appealing her conviction in Italy. Knox’s attorneys have formally requested Lifetime pull the movie or face legal consequences. They fear the movie may potentially taint the trial. After viewing the trailer (below) for the movie, which includes an incredibly graphic scene of Knox holding down Kercher as she screams, John Kercher was appalled.

To actually see it is distressing. The scenes are absolutely horrific,” John Kercher told Britain’s The Sun. “It’s awful what these film people have done. I’m surprised they have gone so far.”

According to ABC News, Knox was able to view the movie trailer in her prison cell and became physically ill upon doing so. You can view the trailer here and at the end of this post.

So, did Lifetime cross the line? It boils down to a matter of ethics, and Lifetime television is certainly not the pioneer here in bringing a true horrific case to television. Helter Skelter, anyone? I’m sure Sharon Tate’s sister wasn’t exactly cheering at the notion of her sister’s murder being played out in front of millions. Let’s not forget Farrah Fawcett being nominated for an Emmy Award for her portrayal of Diane Downs in Small Sacrifices, and Francine Hughes in The Burning Bed. Both stories were horrific real-life tragedies. At the time, The Burning Bed was one of the most-watched shows on television ever. Both of those movies were based on the true crime books, and a quick glimpse on Amazon revealed a total of eight books already on the shelves pertaining to Amanda Knox. Where was the outrage there?

I’m pretty torn on this debate. As a true crime author who has faced backlash from family members of a murder victim, the question always posed itself: “Authors and journalists have been writing about murders for decades, what makes your family so special that we shouldn’t? People have a right to know.” On the flip side, I’m a mother and if something happened to one of my children—that was later played out on television or film—I’m confident I would get violently ill. There’s also the standard that surfaces when a debate like this happens: “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.”

The Lifetime movie about Amanda Knox appears to portray her as a vicious, knife-wielding psychopath, from the looks of the trailer. Regardless, actress Hayden Panettiere—who plays Knox in the movie—gives us her idiotic expertise. In a contradictory statement, Panettiere seems to think that butchering an innocent girl isn’t malicious and no intent was involved.

She said: “This is such a vulnerable story, and, specifically, Amanda was so needy. My job was to play a girl who, regardless of what happened, was innocent in who she was. She's not a malicious girl. She didn't have any intention to do this. This wasn't an angry or dark girl. Whatever it was that happened that night, people's lives were ruined. But it was my job to stay pretty true to form in who she seemed to be as a person in court and otherwise.

“Regardless of what happened, was innocent in who she was…” Eh, I’m pretty sure Ted Bundy, Diane Downs, and Jeffrey Dahmer all felt they were “innocent in who they were” too. Panettiere should probably just shut her trap and do what she does best: act. (Although, that statement seems questionable as well after I viewed the trailer.)

I have absolutely no opinion on the guilt or innocence of Amanda Knox. The amount of evidence makes my head spin, and I have chosen not to follow the case in detail. But, my opinion on whether or not to air the movie is general. People will typically watch a movie than read a true crime book. If there is the potential that a movie could jeopardize a trial, I say wait. Lifetime has the right to air the movie, but they should hold off until Knox’s trial is over.

Thoughts?

12 comments:

CD-Host said...

The appeals process is very lengthy in Italy and the facts of the case keep breaking rapidly. Lifetime's movie is not going to be worth anything after the entire appeals process plays out. They would legitimately lose millions if they did what you suggest.

You are misreading the trailer. The trailer shows three versions of what happened. The knife weilding one is the prosecution's version, the one where you see the curly haired woman kissing the black man is Rudy Guede's version and likely they are going to have Amanda's version where she comes home the day after the murder, takes a shower and discovers a break in. Now of course Lifetime can tilt these versions however they want but I suspect they are tilting them in her favor not against her.

There are problems, which makes this case complex to file. For example the prosecution's timeline contradicts itself, so I have no idea how they portray that. The autopsy agrees with Amanda's version of events so the prosecution had to argue their own medical examiner botched the autopsy... do they show the autopsy twice? Just given the length, given the amount of material they are trying to cover, I doubt it.

As for, "regardless of what happened, was innocent in who she was" Hayden is making a strong claim that Amanda does not pose any threat to society. That even if a homicide occurred it was not intentional, i.e. we are looking at a manslaughter not a murder. The prosecution's and judges theories of motive (and there are many) are also highly self contradictory and contradict the evidence. Further while Amanda was convicted of essentially 2nd degree murder, the findings in the judge's report were consistent with 1st degree. So Hayden is making the very reasonable claim that the evidence shows that Amanda lacked the state of mind consistent with the judge's findings.

You may agree or disagree but I think that's a very reasonable opinion to hold. And yes there are lots of scenarios which are quite plausible which have involvement but no intent to commit murder. Where she comes after the murder but is an accessory after the fact in terms of cleanup. Where she's speedballing for the first time and has no idea what happened, the theory presented by the reporter for Newsweek. Where she's in the kitchen, aware of what's happening, while the two boys are in the bedroom with Meredith, perhaps watching in the beginning.

In my opinion the evidence we have is a mess. The police jumped to conclusions based on an early hunch and never took the investigation past the state needed for an indictment. I think the majority of the evidence points to Amanda being innocent blocks away and being setup by a police force which was under enormous time pressure for a variety of reasons I've outlined on my blog as have others all over the internet. Hayden's comments are very sensible.

Let me give you a quick example from your article. You call her, "a vicious, knife-wielding psychopath" and compare to Bundy, Downs, Dahmer. And that is precisely the point, she seems nothing like any of those 3. There is no hint of a callous disregard for others or malice anywhere in her history and everyone who knows her, including the Italian guards and politicians that have now met her; don't think she is guilty because of that.

Let me just stop to comment that all 3 are the subject of movies; and Small Sacrifices may very well be impacting Downs' parole hearings every 2 years.

CD-Host said...

Sorry small typo (probably one of many): "which makes this case complex to file" should be "which makes this case complex to film". As an aside noticed Anne Bremner is on here. She could do a far better job than I in defending Hayden's very reasonable conclusion that Knox lacked the mens rea needed for a murder.

Clare Waismann said...

This trial has been terribly unfair. The US government should have taken a stand to protect one of its citizens. I think the name " Foxy Knoxy" is as misleading as the media in Italy has been with this CHILD.
All of us that have daughters should be very careful on how to portrait someone else's child that have been poorly judged, convicted and bashed by simply being a teenager.

Bluewaters said...

Stacy's point here is whether or not this movie should air. Lifetime is about money. $$$ beats ethics every time. "The women's channel" does have some interesting movies and at least one male watches them.

Btw, off the point I have studied about 20 pages of trial and even if they throw out the DNA and physical it is the "implied evidence" (as I call it)that is compelling. Actions right before and after. How about the call to Mom at 3AM Seattle (mom says it is not a normal time she calls) to tell her she is staying with boyfriend THAT night. Mom remembers and so do cell records but Amanda does not recall making it.

Casey Anthony. Doc on the run. Actions. Actions. Overwhelming implied evidence.

pataz1 said...

"foxy knoxy" was first reported in the -british- press as the name Knox chose for herself on her myspace page. You can still see the images for that if you google it.

Italy's legal system gives the same penalties for all participants of a crime, regardless of degree. There is no "conspiracy to" or "accomplice to" with lessor penalties if parties substantially participated in the commission or cover up of a crime.

Motive is a straw-man argument. What was Dalhmers motive? Do we have to prove motive for each and every person that kills someone else? No. We don't. Its only the USer's justice system that motive determines level of crime.

Who arranged the staged break-in? Who moved the body after death? These are issues the italian court tackled in not one, but two court cases- Guede's and in Knox/Sollecito's. Both have found sufficient grounds that Guede did not act alone.

CD-Host said...

OK here we go with the propaganda

"foxy knoxy" was first reported in the -british- press as the name Knox chose for herself on her myspace page. You can still see the images for that if you google it.

True but what wasn't reported was this was a soccer reference. The press used it as part of the prosecutor's campaign to demonize Amanda sexually. Lying by omission is not much different than commission.

Italy's legal system gives the same penalties for all participants of a crime, regardless of degree. There is no "conspiracy to" or "accomplice to" with lessor penalties if parties substantially participated in the commission or cover up of a crime.

Hayden is an American not an Italian. She's under no obligation to agree with Italian theories of justice in her moral universe. Moreover, Hayden's claim does apply to Italy. Italy as much as America requires a willingness to commit a homicide. There are minor differences about acts in furtherance.

Motive is a straw-man argument. What was Dalhmers motive?

Not to be alone. He hated loneliness and had a profound desire for connection. At the same time he had a ferocious desire for complete domination. This made a mortal connection fleeting, so he constructed alternate connections with his victims culminating in necrophilia and cannibalism.

Do we have to prove motive for each and every person that kills someone else? No.

I agree we don't. But without motive the probability that we properly understand the crime decreases. Its like not having a body or not having the murder weapon. We can still convict but its a huge hole in the case.

Its not as big a hole as the autopsy not matching the prosecutor's time line. Its not as big a hole as the prosecutor's theoretical murder weapon not matching the bloody knife print on the sheets. But its a big hole none the less.

aklwei said...

True but what wasn't reported was this was a soccer reference.
The press reported it was part of her myspace profile; if her profile didn't list it as a soccer name, why would the press know to do that? :

"On her Myspace website page, under the nickname 'Foxyknoxy', American student Amanda Knox said: 'I'm actually at one of my happiest places right now.'"

The most important part of your comment was:
"We can still convict"

Which is what the italian court did after looking at overwhelming evidence.

CD-Host said...

-- The press reported it was part of her myspace profile; if her profile didn't list it as a soccer name, why would the press know to do that? :

Hold on, The press reported it as a sexual reference. They should have bothered to fact check and then report. How they would know to do that, is what journalists are supposed to do.

-- Which is what the italian court did after looking at overwhelming evidence.

There is no overwhelming evidence. The court can't put together a consistent timeline. They can't determine for sure who did what even in theory, They can't prove that anyone was at any specific place or committed any specific act. They can't prove motive, they can't prove the murder weapon, they can't prove the mode of death, they can't prove who was present for the death, they can't prove the order of events. And in terms of evidence the video tape showing numerous procedural violations proves that very little of the "evidence" can be counted on as much of anything.

Overwhelming is Jerold Loftner, Amanda Knox is extremely underwhelming.

A Voice of Sanity said...

The press reported it as a sexual reference. They should have bothered to fact check and then report. How they would know to do that, is what journalists are supposed to do.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Right, the press actually doing work and getting facts right? When does that ever happen? Only in books.

The evidence against Knox and Sollecito is laughable slight, in fact each piece points to innocence rather than to guilt. The only reason they were prosecuted was to cover up the incompetence of the local police and prosecutor who jumped to a conclusion instead of investigating and drawing conclusions from facts. Perhaps they were trained in the USA.

Quentin said...

If Amanda Knox confessed tomorrow we should be highly skeptical. That's how weak the evidence is when you stop over-caffeinating and analyze.

A Voice of Sanity said...

Do I ever get tired of being right?

Not so far.

CD-Host said...

Well Voice of Sanity, you were right. But standing with facts and logic is rare. And so it's rare to have a win for the good guys. I'm enjoying seeing good triumph this time. She's a source of hope to so many who are trapped by prosecutors that wanted to get their cases resolved without having enough facts.