Just wanna take a quick moment to express something that’s been on my mind for a few weeks.
This man’s name was Jun Lin. He was a Chinese national, attending university at my alma mater, Concordia, in Montreal. I’ve heard in recent local new reports that his friends here called him Justin. He worked in a depanneur (corner store) about 10 blocks from my home. I didn’t know him but, like many people, I found out about his life after he was brutally murdered by Luka Rocco Magnotta on May 24. He is remembered by members of his community and his family as a kind, generous, and studious young man.
The gruesome details of his killing have been making headlines and an international manhunt was successful in arresting Magnotta earlier this week in Berlin. The case has been sensationalized by the fact that Magnotta recorded the event and posted it online. He also mailed pieces of the victims body to several offices of Canadian political parties. The 24-hour news cycle has been furiously churning up the details of this case, and I am certain there is little peace for those who were close to Jun Lin.
So why am I posting about it? Ever since I joined tumblr, I have seen posts about serial killers like John Wayne Gayce and Jeffrey Dahmer. There seems to be a fascination with these two killers who raped and murdered young men and boys in the most sickening fashions. Dahmer in particular is quite prevalent, probably because he is conventionally attractive and fits into that 1970s gay clone look we all seem to fetishize in our post-millenial, post-AIDS nostalgia. Recently, I have noticed an upsurge in the “Hipster Dahmer” meme, with ironic little macros joking about the monstrous sex/murder crimes he committed. Today we have a new arrival in our zodiac of serial killers to fawn over. Luka Rocco Magnotta is described as a a deeply disturbed individual and narcissistic ex-porn star, who sought notoriety at any cost.
What is it about this archetype that is so attractive that we feel the need to idolize it and replicate its image across a thousand reblogs? Where are the pictures of Jun Lin or of the victims? Where are our expressions of horror and disgust? How jaded or unfazed are we by such extreme violence and sensational reporting of depravity? I am no prude, but it all makes me feel ill and for that I am glad.
A man is dead. After facing the most extreme physical desecration, he will now face an ever more extreme discursive violence, that of erasure. Magnotta’s celebrity will eclipse his life in our public consciousness, just as those young men and boys murdered by Dahmer and Gayce were overshadowed by their killers’ star. Think about that before you post yet another photo of a serial killer.