Crime is a very popular genre of both book and film in which extreme violence committed by depraved people is depicted in horrific and nauseating detail. Why do we love it so much? Why do we find death, and in particular gruesomely imaginative murder, so entertaining? We are sick aren't we? Would it not be fair to say that a society which is amused by mentally ill people perpetrating heinous acts of violence, is a sick society?
On November 20, 2010, David Auchterlonie was taken into the bush by a couple of his mates to help him celebrate his 17th birthday with some booze and marijuana. When they arrived at the designated spot, David was tortured, tormented then murdered with a double sided axe by his friend, Matthew Milat, the nephew of infamous mass murderer Ivan Milat. This crime was so disturbing that the sentencing judge remarked, "that any person, not suffering from a psychiatric disorder could behave in such a manner is almost inconceivable." Almost but not quite. Writers of crime imagine such heartless and evil acts for their bread and butter. Readers and viewers greedily participate, shocked and disgusted perhaps but nonetheless entertained. It is, after all, only make believe, and the pyschopath usually gets caught or killed by the authorities in the end so our unslakeable thirst for justice is satisfied. In the fictional fairy tale world where no one really gets hurt and good triumphs over evil, we feel safe to enjoy perversion.
The story of David Auchterlonie rendered me speechless as I watched it on the news. I wonder if his family would enjoy a movie like Wolf Creek or a book like The Wasp Factory. I wonder if his mum will pick up the latest crime thriller and revel in the tale of a cold blooded murderer who takes the life of their friends for fun. I wonder if any of the family members of victims of violent crime can read stories like We Need to Talk about Kevin, or watch films like The Hills Have Eyes or American Pyscho. There must be something seriously wrong with us.
To think that there are people like Ivan and Matthew Milat, Martin Bryant, and Anders Breivik roaming around in our societies, on our streets, obsessed with evil intentions, perhaps even possessed by the devil himself, planning, watching,...time bombs waiting to explode. It might make you wonder just how well you know your friends?