Saturday, February 6, 2016

Making a Murderer, Serial, Justice


By now, a whole hell of a lot has been written about Netflix series Making a Murder. The documentary series follows events leading to the murder conviction of Steven Avery. It's a story filled with injustices, beginning with his release from prison in 2003 after serving 18 years for a rape he was exonerated for based on DNA evidence. That part of the story alone is bad enough, revealing what is either incredible incompetency in the Manitowoc County, Wisconsin police department or an elaborate conspiracy. Or both. And the journey to Avery being (mis)tried and convicted of murder in 2007 is one that will test your definition of justice at every turn. 

Make no mistake, what we see in the series is skewed to make you side with Avery. But there are parts of it that no amount of skewing would change. By the end of the series I don't know if I believe Avery is innocent, but I also don't think that's even the point. The fact is the police and DA most definitely pulled some shady shit. I'm not going to go off on a rant (maybe just a little) about prisons and the justice system and racism, but I do have to point out that it's interesting that everyone is so taken by the case of a white dude who was fucked over by the system, while black kids get shot by cops daily. End rant. Plus, I'm not sure Avery is completely innocent, either. I don't know. 

season 1
In related news, Serial has started posting daily updates from a new hearing in the case of Adnan Sayed that could result in an overturned conviction. If you never heard season 1 of Serial, you don't know what you're missing. Making a Murderer was good, but it was definitely no Serial. For starters the producers of the podcast are master storytellers where I think the makers of the Netflix series were more lucky than anything else because they happened to be there making a documentary about how Avery would acclimate back into society and then the murder case happened. It sort of just fell in their lap. Also, by skewing the way they did, I think they lose some of the impact a more ambivalent point of view would give them. Serial never chose a side and left you questioning everything. Like life. 

And I guess the larger question left is what if Avery and/or Sayed are guilty after all. Does that justify any shortcuts taken to lock them up? If I were a cop, DA or judge and I knew for a fact, that the accused was guilty, would I manipulate evidence or otherwise influence the outcomes? Honestly, I think I would. But that's why I'm none of those things. I'm just a guy watching a show or listening to a podcast. And I expect more from those that chose to be arbiters of justice. I think we all should. 

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