Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Luka Magnotta - Everything is an attempt to be human ...even murder

For all of the month of June, we Canadians were force-fed large servings of Luka Magnotta, a young chameleon who has left a long trail of evidence he designed with the intent to taunt investigators and tantalize the media.  As details emerged of his outrageous murder (by ice pick) and dismemberment (by steak knife) of a gentle Chinese immigrant student, I must admit I was half expecting the Magnotta story to end with another "suicide by police encounter".  But he surrendered without struggle in Germany,  and now we get to follow his multi-million dollar show-trial in 2013.   I'm not the first to mention that the Magnotta story is a variant of another recent Canadian murder - the Mark Twitchell case.  The FACEBOOK Generation is obsessed with drawing attention to itself and too often with turning its sickest fantasies into video productions which might achieve "Mickey and Mallory" style (NATURAL BORN KILLERS) celebrity in exchange for some cold blooded  entertainment. 

Actually what comes to mind when I ponder Magnotta's work... and it is WORK,  is the poetry and art of William Blake.  I'm not referring to Blake's Red Dragon paintings  one of which gets ripped up and eaten by the serial killer Francis Dolarhyde in the  movie RED DRAGON (2002).  I refer to Blake's lesser known print and accompanying verse:

"Everything is an attempt/ To be human"
You don't have to be a philosopher or a psychologist to recognize the confusion and anxiety spreading in our culture. The generation behind me is, I think,  rather disturbed and some of the evidence of that turmoil is the  fragmentation of personality and widespread experimentation with all aspects of identity, lifestyle and kinship.  If there is no God.... if Patriotism is bunk... if Family is a dying proposition...if nationality, sexual orientation, and community are matters of whim and wealth.... then what does it truly mean to be human? Isn't murder just a more dramatic form or expression than profanity? Luka Magnotta is a marvellous example of human adaptation in a changing environment. There are thousands like him living in every city in Canada.  The 21st Century is just underway and already the U.S.A. has elected two presidents who started life with different surnames, and each of whom through force of will, forged new identities which proved attractive in the political marketplace. Most of us will recognize the callous killers who, like Magnotta (born Eric Clinton Kirk Newman),  emerge from broken homes, but we should pay equal attention to the master manipulators who attain celebrity without resorting to to homicide. 

I did not choose to write this article with the intent to provoke or to shock. In fact I am still reeling from a conversation I had with a 15 year old student just one week ago, and writing helps me deal with it. The boy, a Taiwanese immigrant, lives with his mother in an expensive home in Vancouver's wealthy West side. His father is "an astronaut" - meaning he attends to his business in far off Taiwan and returns to Vancouver now and then.  The boy, I'll call him Randy, attended a big boozer with about twenty of his high school chums. There were five girls present. All are Asian and all come from money.  The highlight of the party was watching and discussing the full-length video of the murder of Justin Lin, which one of the Vancouver students had downloaded from the Internet. I thought Randy was putting me on, but he was unwilling to be disbelieved so he ran me through the whole sequence ... from the killing, to Magnotta partially dismembering Lin Jun and setting his severed head to the side .... to his sodomizing a headless corpse.  Imagine!

I haven't yet decided which is more ghastly, Magnotta's crimes, or the idea of twenty Vancouver teenagers crowding around a computer screen to watch the heartless destruction of a human life.  Randy's girlfriend was present, and I asked him "Don't you think that part of being "a man" is to protect your girlfriend from that kind of horror?  Do you think you acted like a man?"  His bland reply to me was "Well I was sitting between her and the screen. She didn't see most of it."  He insisted that wasn't the worst video he'd seen at a party. They had watched "Al Quaeda videos" downloaded from the Internet in which Westerners had begged pitifully to be spared, but had their heads cut off anyway. Randy said that listening to people beg for life was far worse than watching the Magnotta butchery, although his friends were "really pissed off" that he had killed a Chinese.  I know that Randy has been flirting with the gang life, and his mother worries.  I asked him if he understood that watching the Magnotta video and similar party tapes had changed him, and that he was more likely to use a baseball bat than his fists the next time someone "dissed" his girlfriend. He rejected my assertion and said that among his tight group of friends only one talks openly about killing, and is cold enough to kill. (A teen who lost his parents to an auto accident and is intensely angry.) One is enough.

...We are all quite used to homosexual imagery by now because it pops up on any unfiltered PC. When Eric Newman made this (photos) porno video for STREET BAIT of Vancouver in 2003 he had not yet legally changed his name to LUKA MAGNOTTA.  It was early on established that he took the name from an old Computer game called RIPPER, which showcased a sadistic killer named Vince Magnotta, played by actor Christopher Walken.

ONE LUNATIC, ONE ICE PICK - produced, directed and starring Luka Rocco Magnotta Magnotta's last movie would be one which he would produce, direct and cast himself as the killer.  He entitled his snuff film ONE LUNATIC, ONE ICE PICK and he began promoting it on the Internet ten days before he actually committed murder in Montreal. People did notice his moves. 

BestGore.com of Edmonton, Alberta  earned a visit from the police when they mirrored Magnotta "Lunatic" video, but in fact they had not done anything illegal. The Internet is awash with thousands of videos just as ghastly, if not worse than the Canadian made snuff film.

Our world is filled with so much bizarre, extreme and downright ludicrous violence that I think we have lost our perspective and we're not likely to recover it. A few weeks ago I downloaded a screen capture of Jun Lin's severed throat. (photo above)  I didn't look at it for any longer than it took to file the image neatly away. Then a few days later later I found myself watching the re-runs of Season Four BREAKING BAD on AMC.  Perhaps you recall the episode where Gus slits a throat with a box cutter and Walt and Jesse are forced to watch. We see the victim react .... with terror filled eyes,  gasping for life, until finally the light goes out in his eyes... he drops to the floor  and the red gore of his lifesblood spreads toward Walter White's shoes. I recall thinking "Jesus Christ, I wouldn't download that Mad dog Magnotta's video, but I just watched a killing equally brutal and totally convincing.  Where is the boundary between fact and fiction.?"  If you look closely at Luka Magnotta's life, and perhaps take an honest look at your own, you will probably realize we are living our lives without boundaries. I am convinced that Canada has ignored plenty of Magnotta's and one by one, they are going to demand that we pay attention.

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