Your Friendly Neighbourhood Psychopath
Last week I watched a TV series which I’d never heard of and which has seemingly been cancelled – Chasing Shadows – with Reece Shearsmith (of The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville).
In it he plays a police detective, who may have Aspergers (similar to that other police detective with Aspergers, Saga Noren, from The Bridge) who specialises in pissing off his superiors and colleagues with his awkward social skills (not playing the diplomatic game of kissing ass amongst other things) while pursuing killers who may be of the serial variety – he refutes the term ‘serial killer’ because he feels it glamorises, elevates, and separates the psychopath who may well live next door to you and seem okay to you because of what you see of others…
What you see of others… is what you see of their surface, perhaps because it’s what they want you to see and perhaps it’s because of what you want to see.
In the first episode, the killer is obvious as soon as they appear. Why? They’re too nice in a ‘I care about strangers’ kind of way. Or perhaps it was obvious because I watch too many shows like this one.
That’s fiction, fiction has an obvious pattern even when it’s trying not to have one.
But what about real life?
The other night I watched the documentary series – The Jinx – by Andrew Jarecki. He directed the film – All Good Things – which is a fictionalised account of part of the story explored in real life detail in The Jinx.
I’d paused on that film, All Good Things, a few times while browsing… but never felt compelled to watch it enough to press play. The plot sounded like the plot of many films – fairytale gone bad.
Fairytale gone bad – that’s the plot of life on a regular basis. Nothing new there… and do I really want to watch something which plays that one out again, even if it is prettyfied by Hollywood, just in case I had a momentary lapse of reason and believed in happy endings to delusions.
However, The Jinx… that’s something else!
The Jinx is what happens when people, on whatever side of the camera, capture what’s real, true, even when it is lies.
One of the parts which stood out the most for me while watching this was that one juror who acquitted a man who was obviously guilty and admitted as much, and that juror justified his reasons for not only claiming the defendant was ‘not guilty’ but also helping to convince another juror who insisted on a ‘guilty’ verdict to change their view… and still stuck by his ‘not guilty’ verdict even after it didn’t matter anymore. He knew that he was wrong, but couldn’t admit it because of… his own story which affected the story of others.
That… is people seeing what they want to see even when faced with facts which prove that what they want to see isn’t what is actually there.
It was done sympathectically, which is how this kind of thing needs to be done. People are… people. And people prefer not to see the worst when they can see reasonable doubt which allows them to give the benefit of the doubt even to someone who doesn’t really need it or want it, who doesn’t deserve it, and flaunts that.
Many people might say that Robert Durst got away with what he did and kept doing because he’s rich, from a very wealthy family… that did have some influence. But that kind of influence can backfire. He got away with it more so because, we just don’t want to believe that people… real people… can be like that.
That… bad people doing bad stuff… is the stuff of fiction, of something and someone far removed from us, from reality…
We’re all a bit NIMBY (not in my back yard) when it comes to that. It happens elsewhere…
We have a hard time seeing people as killers of other people even when… any person, us included, given a specific incentive, could do that kind of thing…
Not us… not us as we know ourselves, as we paint ourselves to be for ourselves or others to witness and confirm through bias… maybe, but… what if… NO!
Those who are most certain of such things as good and bad, the black and white of life and people… are always the ones I worry about. People who have such rigid guidelines are the ones most likely to snap when push comes to shove.
When they snap… it’s always someone else’s fault, and someone else always pays for it.
They never see how sinister a smile can be, all they see is a smile, which is something only good people can do.
Case in fictional point – Broadchurch.
Another show I only recently watched, which focused on the human tendency to jump to conclusions and then ride them out until they are wrong, often ruining lives because of the need to not see what we don’t want to see, preferring to see what is bad as being beyond our friendly neighbourhood. This was very much like The Killing (even down to the soundtrack)
Sometimes the nicest person in a social circle, or a family, is the one hiding the worst of human nature because they know how dark it is, how much others don’t want to see it, and how far you may have to go to hide it so that others can keep their neighbourhood picture perfect friendly…
and the person frowning… is perhaps just being honest, but their honesty is told to smile.
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and sometimes fiction shows the strangeness of truth.