Monday, January 12, 2009

The World's Fascination with Gore

by Stacy Dittrich

Human beings continue to be fascinated by gore. The latest drama in the Caylee Anthony case confirms this statement as gospel. Allegedly, someone is attempting to sell photographs of the innocent, murdered, and forgotten victim of this entire debacle—or should I say photographs of her remains. Perhaps we should remember the ordeal surrounding the death of model/actress Anna Nicole Smith. The need to obtain photographs of her lying on a slab in the morgue was so overwhelming security had to be placed around the building. We hear of outrageous amounts of money being paid for photographs of celebrities and politicians—a photograph of Britney Spears doing something outrageous allegedly commands up to a couple hundred thousand dollars from the tabloids.

But, what about the dead?

’s unknown what sites like or pay for the famous and recently deceased. Regardless, one might think they were perusing the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Criminal Hall of Fame when looking at several sites. At celebrity morgue, Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy (fresh on the slab, bullet hole and all), Ted Bundy (with his head burns from the electric chair), and Sharon Tate smack in the crime scene were enough to make my stomach turn knowing anyone can view these. Regardless, posting the actual remains of the Lindbergh baby went entirely too far. In fact, all of the photographs go too far and a website like this has no business being allowed to run. Bored? Feel the need to see someone freshly ground up in a meat grinder? Well, skip on over to…

It’s appalling. I can’t imagine losing a loved one and having their remains, morgue photos, or crime scene photos—with them included, posted on a web site for those thrill seekers to enjoy. I simply can’t put my finger on the fascination.

Several years ago, when I naively thought I had seen it all as a police officer, I found myself blocking off a street where my agency was having a stand-off that began with a man murdering an innocent women, robbing another, and then engaging us on a
high-speed police chase where he ultimately stopped his car and put a gun to his head. If this weren’t horrific enough, the crowds of people that began forming behind the barricades included those with coolers, blankets, tripods, telescopes, and video cameras. As if going out for a picnic, they absolutely didn’t want to miss a murderer blowing his own head off or being shot by police. Getting it all on film would simply be the cherry on top. It was simply mind boggling.

Some of the people listed in the celebrity morgue still have immediate relatives living. I’m sure Sharon Tate’s sister (Sharon Tate, right), or Carolyn Kennedy truly appreciate the respect their loved ones are being shown by the sites. I’m somewhat confused by the lack of laws preventing web sites like these from existing or tabloids from printing photographs of dead bodies for profit. Even though a photograph of my own corpse wouldn’t likely fetch a nickel, I believe that all of the dead, even the famous, should be respected equally.

Shut these sites down.


Anonymous said...

Nicely said. I, for one, have an interest in why people commit these crimes, but have absolutely no interest in viewing their victims after the crimes are committed. Equally as bad is seeing those pictures glaring from magazines on the news stands in my local stores. Is it greed that makes photogs take these pictures? Anyone with an ounce of integrity must know this is very painful for the families of these victims. Can we stop this? We can only hope we can.

FleaStiff said...

Whoa there!
Lets put Gore into context: Care to look at newspapers of the American West when notorious outlaws were killed. Front page photos of the corpses posed in their coffins were common with wounds and grimaces clearly being of interest to the reader.

Sometimes our fascination with gore or what we now view as gore disturbs us. Look at the photo archives of women proudly attending a lynching. Some of the descendants of those women don't like it when their forebears are identified by name. Tastes change. And the principle in this country is that an educated public should influence the quality of journalism by their actions in the marketplace rather than having laws restrict the publics access to material. Just because Thomas Jefferson's ideals often fall short of actuality is no reason to substitute burdensome legislation for freedom.

Stacy Dittrich said...


Your comments always keep the fire burning!LOL But, last I checked this was 2009 and not "the Old West."

I would think your opinion of the matter would change if it was your loved one on display for public viewing...

It may be of interest to some, but it doesn't make it right

Anonymous said...

Flea does make the point that this is nothing new. During the Civil War some people would take picnic baskets and sit away from the action and watch. Not exactly lunchtime entertainment if you ask me.

Unknown said...

I have been criticized by some true crime writers for not putting after death photos of victims in my books. There are two reasons I do not do so. One is, as you mentioned, the families of the victims. The other is because of a few readers on Death Row. They want me to include the death shots. The reasons they want them in the book makes my skin crawl and reinforces my commitment not to do so.

Anonymous said...

And what's with Drew Peterson on NBC!! What do we get to watch him murder his next victi?

Ne low even for TV.

Great post Stacy!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm very embarrassed to say that I'm one of those thrillseekers you so rightly mention with disgust. I visit those gory sights for a quick adrenaline rush, while I'm procrastinating from my study, or just want to kill 10 minutes time.

I'm a real horror movie buff, but yet knowing these are real people, that still doesn't stop me from having a quick squiz.. it's just this natural curiousity.

I have to say, it's disgusting there's so much gore on here and how the media makes money out of this repulses me. It is truely disgusting when I think about the fact these people have families that are forced to have to see this sort of thing floating around online.. yet.. the curiousity still gets the better of me.

If you met me, you would not believe it. I'm not a gothic, or social outcast.. I'm a real people person.. and too kind to everyone in my life. When I'm out walking, I stop to throw worms on the concrete back into the dirt so they don't get cooked in the sun... I have never even hurt an insect in my life.

How strange aye? You would assume these gore-seekers would be the derelicts of society, but I am the biggest animal and nature lover you'll ever meet.