More than a year ago, I created this blog to reflect on the state where I live and what happens here. Most of what I write about is triggered by delight or curiosity or a sense of wonder. But what I'm writing about today was triggered by a rush of negative feelings a few days ago when I read in the Anchorage Daily News that there are plans to film a movie in Alaska about the Anchorage serial killer, Robert Christian Hansen, a baker who preyed on women as if they were game. Worse than game. You don't rape and torture game before killing it. He flew his victims in a small plane into the wilderness and then hunted them down. I was here when the Butcher Baker was active in the 70s and 80s and may even have crossed his path unknowingly. Alaska is a small state. And there are many people still here who bought doughnuts from him, and others who discovered that they knew his victims - he confessed to 17 murders. Some people think there were more. He was tried and convicted in 1984 and he may have been abducting, torturing, raping and killing women for 10 years by then.
OK, so back to those feelings about a movie being made: disgust, anger, and yes, fear. How can making a movie about a psychopathic killer who took pleasure in killing women improve the human condition at all? Would it be a cautionary tale? Don't trust anyone, especially someone with a plane who wants to fly you into a remote place? Don't become a prostitute or a stripper because that makes you a target? Sadly, as women, we already know that we are targets from the time we are very young.
And yet, I used to write murder mysteries myself and still enjoy occasionally reading one. So am I a hypocrite? I also believe in artistic freedom and abhor censorship. I am caught wondering what is the function of art anyway?
So could this film about a serial killer who killed with such an absence of humanity make a positive difference in the world? By reassuring us that killers are always caught? That good triumphs over evil? That some men protect women from other men who like to kill women? Or might we learn that men who are bullied by their fathers as Hansen was turn out badly? I could see that boys watching this film might identify with the Trooper. Boys do have wonderfully protective hearts that can be encouraged by good role modeling. But who could the girls identify with? The murder victims who were terrorized before they died? I don't even like to think about that.
The idea of this movie is troubling, not least because it sullies for me in such a vile way the beautiful wilderness of Alaska and the unique ways we get around it in small planes. I want to say that this is NOT who we are, this is not us.
This is who we are:
Like I said, a rush of feelings.