How we now digest entertainment and social simultaneously
Watching a movie at home with my family over the holidays reminds me of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). A minute won’t pass without a parent commenting on who the actor is onscreen, their previous roles, and sometimes even the actor’s relationship status. The irony is that as a film critic, I usually know the answer, but want to stay immersed in the story at hand. “Google it!” is the typical response, as everyone is usually also on their phone viewing Facebook status updates, cat memes, and videos.
This personal anecdote exemplifies how technology and social media have drastically changed not only where we seek out facts, but also how we digest and process entertainment nowadays. Technology has also changed social action immensely.
Whereas historically, a written petition or public rally might gather only hundreds of people in a concentrated area, the Internet provides a forum not only to mobilize supporters but to bring international attention to social events.
A prime example is of the Twitter Revolution in Egypt in 2011, when the hashtag #Jan25th was used to encourage Egyptians to join the demonstration at Tahir Square, and also allowed those of us far away to follow live via Twitter and uStream channels. Furthermore, social media was used to form and strengthen movements and volunteer organizations, with several of the most vocal and visible participants during the time were encouraged to take on leadership roles.
“Making A Murderer” viewers flock to the web
Concerned viewers of “Making a Murderer” have now moved beyond A petition that has garnered much attention was posted on December 20, 2015, on We The People, the White House online petition platform. With a total of 129,950 signatures, the petition to pardon the defendants of the associated convictions met the guidelines for a response from the Obama Administration. To qualify for a response, a petition that is posted on the site must receive at least 100,000 signatures within 30 days.
Unfortunately, the response will not please all signatories. According to the response, because they “are both state prisoners, the President cannot pardon them. A pardon in this case would need to be issued at the state level by the appropriate authorities.”
Of interest is that the response lists actions taken by the Obama Administration to “enhance the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system at all phases”, including his 2014 Executive Order creating a Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The intent of the Task Force and its final report was to “place new strategies to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve while enhancing public safety.” A
nyone who has watched episodes of “Making a Murderer” can recognize the relevance of this action to one of the central themes of the series.
Meanwhile a petition to both President Obama and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has over 365,000 supporters as of January 8, 2016. The petition calls for a pardon as well as accountability for the Manitowoc County officials allegedly involved in “two false imprisonments” for the series central subject. Governor Walker who took office in 2011 has stated that he will not grant any pardons during his term.
According to this January 2014 WisconsinWatch.org article by Bill Lueders: “Gov. Walker supports the court system and does not want to undermine the actions of a judge or jury,” spokeswoman Julie Lund said in an email. He has other priorities besides issuing pardons, which “is not a requirement of the job.”
Controversy continues to brew
Controversy continues to develop around “Making a Murderer”, with filmmakers revealing on the TODAY show that a juror stated to them that he or she believed their subject was framed for the crime by law enforcement.
“(The juror) told us that they believe Steven Avery was not proven guilty,” Ricciardi said. “They believe Steven was framed by law enforcement and that he deserves a new trial, and if he receives a new trial, in their opinion it should take place far away from Wisconsin.”
Demos further stated that “They told us really that they were afraid that if they held out for a mistrial that it would be easy to identify which juror had done that and that they were fearful for their own safety.”
However, the filmmakers have not corroborated the story as “they have not spoken with any of other jurors” according to TODAY. The filmmakers did state that the juror would be willing to serve as a source.
Just this week, the film’s producers confirmed that “of course” they left out evidence, calling it irrelevant and reiterating their goal of exploring the justice system.
Finally, according to various sources including IGN Entertainment Editor Terri Schwartz it was just announced by Investigation Discovery at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that the network is focusing on a new special about Avery.
“We feel compelled to address what we believe are some critical details missing from the Netflix production … in an attempt to provide critical, crucial evidence and testimonies that answer many of the questions surrounding Steven Avery,” said ID group president Henry Schleiff. Production began earlier this week on “Front Page: The Steven Avery Story,” which is hosted by Dateline NBC correspondent Keith Morrison and will air later this month.
Armchair detectives and online supporters should be pleased with this increased television and media coverage on the controversial story behind “Making of a Murderer” in their desire for justice as well as entertainment.