Character Motivation

What makes you do the things that you do? What makes you reach for that cookie when you are on a diet? Or play that game when you should be sleeping? What really motivates us to act?

What motivates someone to murder?

Recently, I finished watching the Netflix docuseries “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez” which doesn’t come to a definite conclusion as to the motivation for committing the crimes of which Hernandez is accused or as to the reason behind his suicide. It begs the question of what does motivate someone to commit the heinous act of murder.

FOXBORO, MA – DECEMBER 10: Aaron Hernandez #81 of the New England Patriots smiles from the sidelines in the fourth quarter during a game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on December 10, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Acts of passion are some how understandable if murder can ever understood. The idea of loosing control and taking a life has been used a character’s motivation over and over again. A typically upright and thereby good being is over taken by passion or it’s darker sister rage. When they come back to their senses with blood on their hands, what do they do? If we are dealing with fiction, the story doesn’t go forward unless they try and hide their crime. In real life, do they call the police or hide the crime? All of which circles back to fictional scenario?

Revenge is another popular motive. Along with greed. These are text book motivations. Understandable to the point that the reader doesn’t give them a second thought.

In watching the docuseries about Aaron Hernández, we see the life of an American athlete on the cusp of greatness fall apart. First with his arrest for the murder of a friend and then more cracks in the foundation of this perfect life appeared. It turned out that there more cracks than anything else in the life of Aaron Hernandez.

He was a young man with a good heart and a bad brain. After his death in 2017, he was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopath, which may have effected his behavior in life. If you haven’t hear of the condition commonly referred to as CTE, it is sometimes called fistfighter’s dementia. A number of former football players have been diagnosed with it following their early deaths.

Watching the life of Aaron Hernandez unfold in three episodes. I see how the series unfolds his character artfully, sympathetically. You feel him and yet you never forget what he is accused of doing. You see how in attempting to avoid the consequence of one crime, he provide the police with all the evidence they would need to convict him of the another crime. It is somewhat like what happens in mythology when the hero tries to avoid his fate and only ends up running directly towards it.

Real life is often stranger than fiction. It is always more complex. When authors water down motivation they water down their plots. I think about this as I write. Am I dumbing down my own plots by not considering the bad guy’s motivation? My current bad guy or gal has killed at least two people and as I work on rewriting the current draft, I wonder about their motivation.

I wonder about the complexities of my villain’s life. What has led them to this point where the death of another is the preferred option? Maybe it is just the easier option?

Death as the easier option is somehow more unsettling? Yet if we look around us there are tons of examples of people choosing that option.

These are the thoughts rattling round my brain.

What’s bouncing round your head?

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Night Stalker Too Graphic?

The Netflix docuseries “Night Stalker” has been criticized as being too much for viewers. If it is then we have sanitized the real horror of Richard Ramirez’s crimes to the point that we expect no longer to be uncomfortable when dealing them.

Richard Ramirez was a monster. He was rapist, a child molester and a murder among other things.

This morning, I finished the series. It wasn’t too much. Or maybe I am far more twisted than I thought. But I think the reality of the situation is a little more complex. True crime has become a genre where people expect a certain level of fear and revulsion, but only a enough to be entertained. We want horror to be a fun sort of fright. It is ok for a horror movie to be gory, but not a documentary about a serial killer?

Now, before I go any further, I am also a lover of most things spooky and creepy so my level of gory may be different from others.

Still, I don’t think I am off base when I say that maybe if we understood more about the horrors of men and women like Ramirez that maybe we would fetishize these killers. When Richard Ramirez was being taking to jail, a woman climbed up on the top of a fan and flash him. That’s right, a man who killed thirteen people had groupies upon his arrest.

We focus so much on the killers and their motivations that we forget about the victims including the communities that they terrorized.

So, no, in my opinion the series didn’t go too far. It talked more about the victims and the effects of the investigation on the men and women hunting the Ramirez than it showed gore. Yes, there are crime scene photos. There are also the voices of Ramirez’s victims defiant; some alive, some speaking through their surviving family members. Their humanity is brought forth in this documentary.

The documentary does take advantage of the material it had available, including crime scene photos, interviews and mood music. Some attention needs to be paid to the score. It is ominous and atmospheric tone was composed by Brooke and Will Blair. The brothers have been working since the mid-2000’s and have composed over 50 scores.

Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno were the detectives who worked on catching Ramirez.

This is less a documentary about Ramirez and more a documentary about the people that hunted him and the people that survived him.

Day One of Gratitude: Sisterhood

It’s Friday night with the girls.. our heels are off, if we even had them on in the first place.  Sonja is dressed to clean. I love her country cow sweatshirt and crochet bandana, no matter what she wears she is always herself and always beautiful.  Everyone else is in their comfy clothes.

No men, well, except for the cat, but Nigel is more concerned with his arch-nemesis, Lucky.

The martini glasses are in the cabinet and no one is drinking.  We are not Sex in the City types. Girls night is just what each of us need. I am writing on the laptop, Sonja is cleaning and organizing her shoebox size house and Serena, on a rare night out, is just relaxing. The conversation at the moment is about the Netflix selection: Paranormal State.  Laughter, sharing and the simple act of being with friends is all we need; it is sacred time.

We aren’t catty girls, we are just friends.  We talk, we drink tea and we share.

The evening is broken up early, Sonja needs to go into work. But the magic has been worked, the ragged edges of our spirits have been mended.

I am grateful for each time we gather; whether blood sisters or sisters found along life’s journey. We heal each; gather strength to be the women we want and need to be.  Thank you, my sisters, I love you, all.