Monday, October 26, 2009

Foxy Knoxy: The many (media created) faces of Amanda Knox

It's been two years since the murder of Meredith Kercher and the subsequent arrest of Amanda Knox in Perugia, Italy. In those two years the media has managed to create the most sensationalized murder case since O.J. Simpson, involving claims of sex-games gone awry, drugs, race politics, false confessions, police and prosecution misconduct, intertwined civil trials and the popularization of the nickname, 'Foxy Knoxy'.

For those of you not familiar with the case, Amanda Knox, the 20 year old ( now 22) American student and her former boyfriend Rafaelle Sollecito, 24, are accused of murdering and sexually assaulting Amanda's roomate, British student Meredith Kercher, 21, who was found semi-naked with her throat cut in her bedroom in the house she shared with Knox while studying abroad in Italy in November 2007. Based on DNA and fingerprint evidence, a third party, Rudy Guede, 21,was convicted of Kercher's murder and rape and sentenced to 30 years in prison in October. Prosecutors say that Sollecito and Knox held Kercher down while Guede raped her in a sex game gone wrong.

In her "All-American Girls" article, Jacqueline J. Lambiase writes that stereotypes are often used in journalism in order to help the audience connect with the story. She states that women specifically are "frequently depicted in polarized ways. They are either purely feminine or unpurely not - with no middle ground available in this good-evil binary" (75).While both Knox and Sollecito are still standing trial for the murder, the media frenzy has focused only on Knox, with the Italian and British media painting her as a promiscuous and wild "femme fatale". Contrastingly, the American media is portraying Knox as a scared, innocent young girl at the mercy of an unjust, foreign court.. This is can easily be seen from just the headlines of stories about Knox: "Lovers without any inhibitions" , "And in prison, she even tries to sun tan" , "Innocent Abroad", "Amanda Knox: Cold-blooded Killer or Angel-faced Victim?".

Though each countries' news outlets are taking a different stand on the case, they are all employing utilitarian principles in their coverage. Under the utilitarian perspective, "reporters use any means necessary to uncover information pertinent to the unfolding story of suspects and motive" (Lambiase, 79). Journalists have plastered their newspapers with photos they found of Knox on the Internet, even using the nickname "Foxy Knoxy" found on her Myspace page to refer to her. Items from the police's investigative reports including Knox's diary, police interrogations, photos of Kercher's body, video of Kercher's body (which wound up on YouTube but has been pulled), and video of the Italian forensic police carrying out their investigation all made it to press. These media outlets have also been using sensationalizing tactics such as offering explanations of the murder that are direct and simple (Surette, 68), many of them framing the Kercher murder as a "morality tale about unhinged sexuality and drug use among a new lost generation of privileged youths taking a year off from elite colleges to run wild in Italy under the guise of learning a new language" (The Daily Mail).

While the coverage of Amanda Knox focuses more and more on her youth, looks and alleged sexual appetite, it also leads further away from her alleged crime and the memory of Meredith Kercher. For this case should not be centered around Ms. Knox but rather focused on finding justice for the young woman who was brutally murdered.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent example! This definitely fits all the criteria for a sensationalized media trial - lurid sex, good-looking woman, drugs, etc.