Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blast from the Past

I'm not exactly sure why, but I have unearthed some writings from my past. Well, "writings" is an interesting euphemism, because I thought most of them sucked when I read them again. I just couldn't believe the stuff I took the time to write about (Of course, I'll probably look back on this blog in a few years and think the same thing. I hate Time.)

Anyway, this one was a paper I did in my Essay Writing class (WP-121) as a freshmen at Emerson. It's rough, but for a college freshmen, I've seen worse. The paper was on my favorite movie at the time, Oliver Stone's media satire, Natural Born Killers, which I still love, but I think tells a different story all these years later. In fact, it may have been ahead of its time. Look at where reality TV has gone in the 15 years since the film's release. I think "American Maniacs" could be on TV these days.

Anyway, I decided (for no reason I can recall) to write the essay as if the events really happened, so this isn't a pretentious film analysis. Honestly, I don't think it's so bad. I wonder if Oliver Stone would have liked it. Anyway, I hope you do, even if it's only to see how lame a writer I used to be.


"If I was a mass murderer, I'd be Mickey and Mallory" was the answer to tabloid television journalist Wayne Gale's question, "What do you think of Mickey and Mallory?" It seems to sum up what the entire nation thought when Mickey and Mallory Knox went on a three week killing spree that left fifty-two people dead. Why did this country become so captivated by these two bloodthirsty lovers? It was because the Knoxes had some power over everyone. They affected an entire nation. Mickey Knox blamed it on "the demon," the demon that is buried deep inside everyone. However, the real culprit was, in fact, Gale himself, through his sleazy T.V. show, "American Maniacs." Gale, and those like him, transformed the Knoxes from psycho- killers to cult heroes. It was the media that made them superstars.

The presence of the media followed the Knoxes every step of their bloody journey. The media helped carry the Knoxes' message of murder to the people. Even at their arrest at the hands of the sadistic Detective Jack Scagnetti, there were cameras present. It was Scagnetti's wish to have a news crew there, to witness the fall of the Knoxes and show the world that he was better than Mickey and Mallory, and at the same time boost the sales of his new book. What the cameras did not pick up was the brutality Scagnetti used in capturing the two killers, and his vicious strangulation of a prostitute just hours before the arrest. If they had seen it, then the entire world would have seen that Scagnetti is just as evil as the Knoxes, only much less popular.

Because Scagnetti was the one who had put the Knoxes in prison, he was selected by the prison warden, Dewight MacClousky, to transport the killing couple to a mental institution. It seemed that even prison could not hold back the Knoxes, as they had killed a handful of inmates and guards in the one year that they had been incarcerated. It was ruled that they were too dangerous to have around, so the plan was to have Scagnetti assassinate them on the way to the institution, and make it look like an accident. Scagnetti, wanting to go down in history as the man who killed Mickey and Mallory Knox, gladly accepted MacClousky's offer. In Scagnetti's words; "I'll go right up there with Jack Ruby." Scagnetti wanted to use the Knoxes as his stepping stone to stardom. Scagnetti could get into the public eye and get his book on the bestsellers list at the same time.

However, Wayne Gale was not quite finished with the Knoxes yet. He wanted to use them to make television history. On the day before the Knoxes were to be transported, Gale used his influence to get an exclusive interview with Mickey Knox from inside the prison. As with Scagnetti, Gale was using the Knoxes' unbelievable fame to propel himself to that status. This was the second episode of "American Maniacs" devoted to Mickey and Mallory, and the first one got the second highest ratings in the show's history, second only to Charles Manson, which illustrates how Mickey and Mallory had captivated the entire nation with the help of Gale and his tabloid T.V. show. For this reason, Gale was frothing at the mouth to do this show. He knew that the eyes of whole world would be on "American Maniacs," and that is all that mattered to him.

In his interview with Gale, Knox stated that everybody has "some sin, some awful secret thing." He was talking about the dark side that is in everyone. Knox said that the demon "feeds on your hate. Cuts, kills, rapes." Mickey and Mallory Knox were the personification of this demon. Wayne Gale and his media brethren were responsible for bringing this demon to the front. The Knox's trial was a perfect illustration of this fact. It became a huge media circus. The chaos was compounded by the presence of thousands of Knox-supporters, gathered outside the courthouse to cheer their heroes on.

As Wayne Gale described it, the "nation caught Mickey and Mallory Fire." It was a fire fueled by Gale, who gave his audience a distorted picture of what it's like to be a mass- murderer. Thanks to Gale's influence, Mickey and Mallory became superstars. Gale realized that his interview with Mickey Knox would make television history. What he did not realize was that such an interview would incite a full-scale riot. During this riot, Gale found himself in the heart of the very violence that he was feeding to the public and he was the cause of it all.

The infamous interview was conducted live, right after the SuperBowl. The irony of football's padded violence contrasting with the real violence that embodied Mickey Knox was not lost on Gale. He had orchestrated this entire ordeal, and he was ready to take his place in history. However, he was not ready for the carnage that he would cause.

The riot was sparked when Mickey Knox told Gale that he was "a natural born killer." With this simple quote, Mickey's fellow prisoners began wreaking havoc all over the prison. This is a perfect illustration of the affect that Mickey and Mallory had on a large group of people, and the reason that the riot started was because Gale needed to make television history.
Amid the chaos, Mickey Knox saw his chance. Taking advantage of the minimal security in the small room where the interview was conducted, Knox waited for the perfect moment. When it came, Mickey wrestled a shot gun from one of the guards and used it to blast away at the rest of them. Now in control, Knox forced a wounded guard to take him to Mallory's cell and made sure that Gale's cameraman ready to roll. Leading a procession of wounded guards and Gale's T.V. crew, Mickey Knox and company waded through the turmoil of the prison riot, cameras rolling, of course. Knox wanted to put on a real show for the home audience.
At Mallory's cell, a confrontation with Jack Scagnetti awaited Mickey. As a nation watched live on network T.V., with Gale's commentary plugged in for added measure, Scagnetti was shot to death by a vengeful Mallory Knox. It was poetic justice. Just as Scagnetti had wanted to use Mickey and Mallory as his stepping stone to fame, the Knoxes had now used Scagnetti to become more famous than ever. And they owed it all to Wayne Gale and his rolling camera.

Who wept for Jack Scagnetti? Nobody. In the story that was unfolding on countless people's television sets, he was portrayed as the villain. Scagnetti and his fellow police officers had kept Mickey and Mallory Knox apart for the last year, and their blood-soaked reunion amid the chaos of that day was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Everyone had told the Knoxes that they would never be together again, and they had now proven everybody wrong. The nation that had caught Mickey and Mallory Fire could now cheer their heroes on in their homes just like any spectator sport.

As the Knoxes attempted to make good their escape, Gale discarded his microphone in favor of a handgun, and he too began firing away at the guards, claiming that he now felt "alive for the first time" in his life. Mickey and Mallory had worked their magic on Gale as well. For Gale, it wasn't murder that was an issue. The issue was the fame and fortune that came with being the journalist that was at the Batongaville riot. His place in history was assured, and that's all he cared about. Gale's selfishness was over-matched only by his intense greed.

After the Knoxes made their daring escape from the prison in Gale's news van, they stopped off to do one last interview. With Gale manning the camera, Mickey and Mallory said their goodbyes to a nation that adored them, as they now would have to disappear from the public eye to avoid capture. Before signing off, the Knoxes left all of their fans with one last token of their appreciation. They emptied their rifles into the man that had made them famous, Wayne Gale.

As Gale's dreams of stardom were obliterated by gunshot after gunshot, Mickey Knox made sure that the camera got it all on film. Gale had lived by the sword, and he died by the sword. As with Scagnetti, it was poetic justice. Gale had become a victim of the very violence that had become his livelihood, and there were probably less mourners for him than there were for Scagnetti.

Mickey and Mallory Knox had taken their place in history alongside people like O.J. Simpson, the Menendez brothers, and Rodney King. The American people have an incredible appetite for violence. As long as there are people like Wayne Gale, hoping to get rich off of someone's murder, then the publics' thirst for excitement will be quenched by simply turning on the T.V. In 1963, we saw Lee Harvey Oswald shot by Jack Ruby on national television. In 1994, we saw Jack Scagnetti and Wayne Gale murdered by Mickey and Mallory.
Stay tuned, history is written every day.

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