Is there anything we can do to stop a homicidal idiot from attaining his goal of worldwide fame?
Alleged killer and manhunt target Luka Rocco Magnotta (a.k.a. Vladimir Romanov, a.k.a. Kirk Newman, a.k.a. several other witless porn-stud aliases) seems to have dedicated his young life to the hollowest of dreams: fame for its own sake, fame by any means. Today, he has achieved it. His pouty, surgically altered face is inescapable, accompanying hundreds of quickly turned around news items, including this one, all about a man few knew or cared about until he became a murder suspect.
The Globe and Mail reports today on Magnotta’s online history, an extensive trail of empty self-promotion including a vanity site, a number of Facebook profiles, porno performances, animal cruelty videos, troll-baiting comments and self-spread rumors about his relationships with celebrities–at least one of these seems to have been true: Montreal police have confirmed that Magnotta dated serial killer Karla Homolka (are there specialized talent agents who arrange these romances?).
UPDATE/CORRECTION: The Gazette reports that Montreal police have backtracked on their confirmation: there’s no proof of a Magnotta/Homolka relationship. Was the original police confirmation based solely on Internet rumors that Magnotta himself may have started, or were reports of the confirmation erroneous to begin with? Will update once this is clarified/confirmed.
When having sex on camera
and with a murderer failed to result in James Dean-level fame, Magnotta is alleged to have courted attention by filming himself killing kittens. A Facebook group sprung up to identify the man behind a 2010 “Vacuum Kitten Killer” video, who is believed to be Magnotta, and point him out to the authorities. Members of the group claim that they tried to alert police repeatedly to Magnotta over the past 18 months. The notorious online image board 4Chan (the birthplace of both LolCats and Anonymous), which has a history of cyber vigilantism against feline abusers, reportedly raised $5,000 in reward money for anyone who would identify the vacuum cat killer. But there’s no indication that either of these efforts ever caught up with Magnotta.
Whatever Internet fame the kitten-killing videos generated, the “body parts” killing has now undoubtedly dwarfed it.
If Magnotta is indeed behind the “1 Lunatic 1 Icepick” video linked to the gruesome murder, there seems to be a decent chance that his primary motive was attention. The sexual defilement of the victim, the mailing of body parts to political parties–all of it seems cribbed from bad movies, and not driven by erotic compulsion, radical political conviction or psychopathic obsession. Even the title of the snuff film is derivative–from a promo porn video that went viral a few years ago.
In today’s National Post, Christie Blatchford, looking for someone to make her feel morally outraged, chooses the anonymous commentators who are blase and cynical about the posting of the murder clip. She extends culpability to the Web itself, which “emboldens psychopaths.” Sure, she allows, the Net can fuel revolutions, but it also “nourished” Magnotta. Maybe it did, but Internet fame was just a snack. Thanks to journos like Blatchford, who not only watched the video but who recounts it in gory detail to her readers, Magnotta is now feasting.
I am aware of the problem with decrying Magnotta’s media attention in a piece about Magnotta. My justification is no better than anyone else’s: This is newsworthy, it’s what people are interested in, and it won’t go away if I refuse to cover it. It also won’t go away because we, journalists, neglect to post or link to the materials we write about, even though they are instantly available by Googling keywords that we provide.
We in the media are defenseless against hacks like this. After years of trying in vain to get famous through the Internet, Luka Rocco Magnotta, if he is guilty, has suddenly achieved global infamy by appealing to the tabloid sensibilities of old media. It worked.