Sunday 24 – Monday 25 July 2016
I’m sitting here trying to come up with a new blog post whilst watching the movie ‘The Frozen Ground’ which is based on actual events. It’s the sort of movie I can get in to quite easily because it mirrors a lot of books that I own – true crime. The movie covers the events surrounding the eventual capture of Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen. I think that somewhere in my library I’ve probably got a book that has a chapter on him, but watching this movie, I don’t seem to recall anything about him. But as things tend to go, it started me thinking about the psychology of people like Robert Hansen.
Here’s a guy who stalked his victims in the same way he stalked his prey when he went hunting. He abducted the women, raped and tortured them. And then he killed them, and buried their bodies in the wilderness. He committed these heinous crimes because girls wouldn’t give him the time of day when he was at high school, and because he was bullied at school for stuttering and having acne. Where the rest of the world was concerned, he had a wife and kids, and was well-respected within his community.
Police overlooked the complaint laid by Cindy Paulson because she lied about her age and was a prostitute. Hansen had abducted and raped her, but she managed to get away from him when he took her to his plane. His M.O. was to fly the women in his plane up to an isolated place and hunt them. He was turned down twice on psychological grounds for a pilot’s licence, and yet he still managed to get one.
In the early days when Hansen was convicted of a few assaults, and before the murders began, he managed to convince a psychiatrist that he was hearing voices and seeing things, and the shrink diagnosed Hansen as schizophrenic. When he eventually confessed to the abduction and rape of Cindy Paulson, and a number of other abductions, rapes and murders, he admitted to the Alaskan State Troopers investigating the case that he had, indeed, fooled the psychiatrist.
Why I titled this post Who Are The Real Monsters? is twofold. 1) It’s undeniable that Hansen acted in a monstrous manner to commit his heinous crimes. I doubt that anyone would disagree with that. But 2) the police who initially questioned Cindy Paulson and then dismissed her allegations because she was a prostitute and had lied about her age, saying she was 23 instead of the 17 years of age that she actually was, acted in a manner that I think could be described as monstrous too. Seriously, how many women who weren’t prostitutes have lied about their age over the years? Too many to consider, I’d imagine. Someone lying about their age is not a reason to dismiss any complaint or allegation that they might have. Okay, it doesn’t sit well in any criminal investigation if lies are told, no matter how small, however, there’s still a duty of care there that the investigators/police have to ascertain the facts of the case.
Furthermore, how monstrous are we that watch movies based on these hideous actual events, particularly when we watch them for entertainment purposes as opposed to educational purposes? Because, let’s face it, if we were viewing something like this for an educational reason, we’d be watching a documentary rather than a movie starring Nicolas Cage and John Cusack.
As children, we’re told that monsters don’t exist; that they’re figments of our imagination, only to be found in stories. And for a good while, most of us believe that. We have no other reason to suspect otherwise unless our childhood takes us to a place where we’re affected by real-life monsters – murderers, rapists, paedophiles, abusers, and any other real-life monster you’d like to add to the list. Of course, if we’re lucky enough not to be exposed to these kinds of people when we’re young, there’s a point in our lives where our innocence is ripped away from us and we do realise, and begin to fully understand, that monsters have always existed in real-life, and everything that we’ve been told about them living in stories and our imaginations is utterly untrue.
Many people espouse the theory that people who commit heinous crimes are not monsters but men and women, and of course, that is true. They are people who have stepped away from the light, delved into the darkness, and decided it could be a pretty good place to hang out in. By the same token, there are many people who will tell you that evil doesn’t actually exist; that, again, it’s simply men and women perpetrating terrible deeds. Now, whilst I don’t put my faith in the word of God, or believe the Bible to be a factual account of anything, I do believe in the concepts of good and evil, of light and dark, of humanity and monsters.
Monsters do exist. They are us, and they are in us. And there’s really no getting away from that.
What do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know.
‘Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.’ – attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche
‘Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.’ – attributed to Stephen King