Saturday, June 23, 2012

Obsessed with the 'Canadian Psycho': Magnotta Fandom

I've been a fan. I've been into bands, for example. Bought all their records. Went to their concerts. Learned to play their songs. Collected bootleg recordings. Read the biographies. Kept up on news. Heck, I even made a web site about one of the bands and kept it going for more than a decade after the band broke up. (See www.cubisaband.com for that.)

Luka Magnotta fans range from interested to obsessed. On facebook and on blogs, they devour information about the accused Canadian Psycho.But I've never been obsessed about anything in popular culture. Sure, if you go back into the archives here, you might say I had an unhealthy degree of interest in learning about Scientology and why it was so bad. Sure, I'd lay awake at night imagining conversations with Scientologists and how I could get into their heads and wake them up to reality. But I don't think any of that would even begin to cross over into the realm of clinical obsession. I just get really interested in stuff for a while.

Such is not necessarily the case with some people, and some of the things they obsess over would make fine fodder for Dr. Phil or a show on TLC, not to mention a professional psychologist.

One such situation was explored Friday as I filled in as host of The Rick Howe Show on News95.7.

Producer Jenn spotted an article in The National Post about the growing fandom surrounding accused murderer Luka Magnotta. He's the guy charged with having murdered a Chinese student on video, then doing nasty things to the body. Jun Lin's remains were cut up and pieces sent to political offices and schools.

Magnotta fled to Europe, where he was arrested. He's since been returned to Canada. He's before the courts now on serious charges including murder. He's waived a psychiatric assessment.

One thing that makes Magnotta obviously different from some other high-profile Canadian criminals is his appearance -- he's pretty. He wasn't shy. He was unabashedly fame-seeking. Magnotta's life played out on the internet as he displayed himself as a model, escort and actor in sex videos. 


He's everything pig-farming serial killer Robert Pickton wasn't. Hairless, not hairy. Skinny, not droopy. Public, not private. Urban, not rural. Gay, not straight. Allegedly killed a man, not a bunch of women. And he has lots and lots of pictures and video.

So, should any of us be surprised that he's attracted fans?

Jenn set up an interview with Josh Visser, author of the Post article headlined Fans, defenders line up to support ‘inspirational’ Luka Rocco Magnotta on Facebook. She also pointed me to a blog at http://lukamagnottaobsession.wordpress.com.

A conversation with journalist Visser would have been interesting enough, but I thought it would be even better to speak with one of the fans. I don't know how to use Facebook, but my 'net sleuthing skills are sharp. Still, I don't know how to sniff someone out from a Wordpress subdomain.

The best I could do was to leave a comment on the 'about' page and hope the author would get back to me.

She did.

She writes as Lexa Mancini -- note the morphological similarity to the name Luka Magnotta.

I looked at her blog, and was struck by the quality and self-awareness of the writing. Lexa uses big, smart words and uses them correctly. That's something you don't always see on blogs, even good ones. If she was nuts, she was the smart kind of nuts. I apologize if this sounds insensitive, but I rather enjoy conversation with smart crazy people in limited doses. I'm no stranger to mental illness, and as long as no one is in danger or particular discomfort and people are being offered the best help available, I'm not especially disturbed by the disturbed.

Lexa wrote back and we scheduled a time for the interview. Here's how it sounded.



After the interview, Lexa wrote about it on her blog.

Now, some listeners may wonder why I didn't conduct the interview the way some on Twitter were taking on the subject. You may have expected me to spend five minutes saying "What, are you crazy?" and "This is nuts" and "How crazy are you, exactly?"

That, my friends, would not have been good radio, and I wouldn't have liked myself very much afterward. Those kinds of questions may be fair for to ask of a teenager who tackles an old lady and steals her purse so she can buy scalped tickets to a One Direction or Justin Bieber concert. This, in my view, is not the same kind of scenario.

On a basic fandom level, is someone who's a little too interested or a little too attracted to Luka Magnotta really so strange?

My wife, for example, thinks Dexter -- the TV serial killer, not the Premier of Nova Scotia -- is hot. That's fine. He's a good-looking guy, charming and crafty.

Luka is attractive in a desperate twink sort of way. A generation of young women who grew up in the era where the metrosexual was the idealized image of masculinity would no doubt be drawn to this man who took great care to craft his hair, eyebrows and fashion.

It's been said that some women are especially attracted to gay men. Some women are attracted to bad guys. Some women are attracted to the unattainable. Some women are attracted to assertive guys who take what they want, consequences be damned.

So, aside from the horrific and shocking (alleged) crimes involved, there's plenty of reasons for chicks to be all over this guy.

Don't forget that we're still in a society which seems to honour fame above all. Many people would rather be famous than rich. They'd want to be famous for anything, whether it's for finally revealing the Higgs boson or for setting fire to a police car during a riot. Frankly, I think most kids would take the latter.

Luka Magnotta, for all his...y'know, bad stuff...is a guy who's won at the fame game. If the sole goal was to do what he wanted and get famous for it, the guy has hit the jackpot.

And if I'm scoring the game for sheer audacity and curiosity -- call it the WTF Factor if you want -- he's won as well. I have to handle stories all the time. It's actually refreshing to have one come along that makes me say "he did WHAT? Jee-zus, that's crazy." Hell, I've seen a lot of crazy stuff. Some of it still haunts me. Whoever's going to cover this case when it goes to trial is going to need therapy.

Speaking of therapy -- let's get back to Lexa and fans of her ilk. Are they screwed up? Probably. But lots of people are screwed up.

She seems to want to get into buddy's head and find out what makes him tick. Well, so would I. I just don't want to kiss him.

Please don't misunderstand me: I don't condone or endorse anything Luka Magnotta has done. I find his internet conduct distasteful, I think his trail of bad debts shows poor discipline, and the whole murder thing was really bad, plus the sending of body parts in the mail (most of this is alleged, CYA)... he does not seem like a good guy.

But if we've learned anything from the movies, we know that an attractive, clever, witty villain is so much more interesting to watch than a straight-out bad guy. Screenwriters usually give the best lines to the villains, because we already love the good guy. It's more interesting if we can like the bad guy a little.

My message to Lexa -- stick with this obsession for now and see where it goes. I'm troubled by how much you say it's distracting you from other things in your life. If you can carry on with your normal commitments and keep your healthy social connections, why not see where it goes? You seem to have a solid sense of self-awareness, and the fact that even you are disturbed by how much you dig Magnotta is a good sign.

I think you might learn a few things about yourself, and if you maintain tethered to reality throughout, you could come out on the other side a more complete person. You could teach a few things to the girls who are fawning over him in ways that even you find unsettling. And if you keep blogging about it, maybe we can all get a clearer picture of what draws people to the kinds of folks who repel everyone else.

Longest...BigAssSuperstar...blog post...everrrr.

15 comments:

  1. Wow Scott! I'm flattered that your longest blog post ever is about me and my Luka obsession! :) It's a great post by the way; I'll have to read it a few times to soak it all in. My only comment right now is that while many Luka fans are probably screwed up like you say (some seriously so), I honestly believe that there are just as many, if not more who have been screwed up BY Luka Magnotta. Check out my latest post: Feelings caused by cognitive distortions? http://lukamagnottaobsession.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/feelings-caused-by-cognitive-distortions/ (The idea for this post came from your discussion with Josh Visser following my interview with you, by the way.)

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    1. the man is in no way admirable, but you are. you are very brave.

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  2. very good journalism!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, but I wouldn't assert that this is journalism. I have a lot of respect for journalists. I'm a broadcaster and blogger who treads on journalistic territory. I deal in news and facts, but the capital-J Journalists would probably argue with me if I called what you see here 'journalism'.

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  3. You feed the crazies & do injustice to the real victims who are not even able to properly grieve because their son's full body hasn't been found yet. I wish more of the media would remember the people who actually lost their only son instead of giving these internet nutjobs more airtime. They are a dime a dozen online!

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  4. Congrats I guess for finding a way to get more hits to your blog. That's good marketing, will give you that credit. Now that the person you interviewed is bragging about her time with you on those insane fan pages, expect to have lots of other nutjobs to interview at your disposal.

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  5. c'mon folks there is absolutely no reason to stand in judgement of this lexa girl, i too am interested in the case, am even empathetic for this guy. Have you read the story about his life, how he was tossed away by his parents at a very young age, lived a loveless childhood, probably a lack of attention. And by the way, Mr Simpson, the police have the full fifteen minute tape, not the unedited version that was posted on BestGore, they have magnotta beyond the shadow of a doubt. And they will play that in court. So for all the fans out there who think this guy has some trump card hidden up his rear end, you are very very mistaken.

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    1. shut the fuck up!!!!!!^^^^^^^^

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  6. daweeka: My use of the wording 'alleged' doesn't come from any personal doubt about who committed the crimes -- it's journalistic practice not to convict someone of a crime in writing until he or she is actually convicted in court. Even if he's seen on video doing all this, until he's legally found to have done them, I'd be opening myself up to liability and endangering the court process by proclaiming him guilty of the crimes.

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  7. @thephotographyelf: No one is forgetting the victim. No one is denying the suffering of the family. But theirs are not the only stories to be told. If you'd prefer to advocate for the suppression of diverse voices online, there's probably a niche market for that kind of thought online. I encourage you to write about it, even if I disagree with it.

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  8. Death penalty For Mognatta & Ass kick his FansJune 26, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    your articles about luka rocco mognotta and his pathetic loser fan club is a disgrace to the poor man who was brutally murdered. Luka is a loser, stripper, prostitute, with no brains to get anywhere in life. I wonder how his fans would feel if in the future they themselves, or their loved ones gets murdered the same way as Jun Lin. Karma is a bitch.

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  9. but the "victim's" story has not been told, not in such great detail as this madman - why feed into these crazy people, who by the way, shouldn't be looking after babies if they are "infatuated" with a person who can video tape himself killing kittens and then take it one step further and video tape himself killing and dismembering a human and then sending body parts to schools and to others and then having someone leave his head in a park - lady get help

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  10. This lady needs to spend less time blogging and more time speaking with a psychologist. There is a lot to be said for free speech, but unfortunately, some people take advantage of it for their own draw for personal shock attention.

    I do think this was a very good piece of journalism to help people realize such disturbed people actually exist out there.

    There are too many positive things to be obsessed with in this World, that something like this in my opinion boils down to a choice of interest in evil rather than good that crosses the line of general curiosity

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  11. This loser lexa does not have a life whatsoever, get some dick girl, stop living in a fantasy and spend more time with a phyco therepist and not your computer LOSERS!!!!!!!!!!!! AND THE INTERVIEW BLOGGER LOSERS SMH

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  12. i just do not understand how any sane person can be obsessed with a murderer. What the hell is going here. This is sick and she is sick and needs help.

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