Bleats

Zac Efron Is A Disturbingly Sexy Ted Bundy In His New Movie, And It's The Latest In A Problematic True-Crime Trend

For some people, not even murder is a turnoff.

The first full trailer for Ted Bundy biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile dropped over the weekend.

Bundy, played here by Zac Efron, murdered at least 30 women and girls, sexually assaulted most of them before and/or after (usually) bludgeoning or strangling them to death, and kept the heads of at least 12 of them in his home as trophies.

But with the generic swaggering retro rock soundtrack, lingering sexy scenes, shots of Efron sprinting comically or brooding handsomely, and BIG SMASHY TAGLINE SCREENS, the trailer comes off more Catch Me If You Can than Monster.

We get it: fun and sexy sells more tickets than dark and depressing. And trailers are a pretty lost art these days – just watching one risks spoiling the entire movie – so there’s absolutely no reason to assume the film has the same jaunty tone.

What’s more, the point of the movie is supposed to be that Bundy’s handsomeness and charm were exactly what allowed him to lure women into situations where they were alone, to insist on his innocence when his girlfriend Liz Koepfler reported him to the police as a suspect (and even after he was convicted), and to maintain adoring fans and correspondents who mourned him after his execution.

The entire design of Efron’s casting is to use the fact that he is extremely handsome against you, the audience. You’re supposed shift uncomfortably as you admire his chiseled features, finding yourself charmed or convinced as he represents himself in America’s first nationally televised criminal trial – you’re supposed to feel confused, conflicted, and repulsed by your feelings about him, like Koepfler must have, even though you know he did it.

Reviews from Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered, say that Efron nails the charm bit, as well as the necessary creepiness. Variety calls his performance “startlingly good: controlled, magnetic, audacious, committed, and eerily right… We see the desperate soul hidden in the psycho hidden in the charlatan hidden in the handsome straight-arrow.”

And while there are flashes of body-dragging in the trailer, there’s reportedly no actual onscreen depiction of any of the murders, in order to keep the audience perspective closer to Koepfler’s anguished uncertainty – which another review says “has the absurd effect of elevating Efron’s winsome Bundy into a protagonist you root for getting away with it all”.

We need to be having conversations about the fact that not all violent men are shark-eyed and scary-looking; that they can be charming, handsome, and kind to some people, and then commit unspeakably horrific violence before coming home to kiss their loved ones goodnight.

This is even more important as we reckon with the ugly stories we don’t want to believe about handsome men we don’t want to see as monstrous.

But so much true crime now, in the process of trying to turn criminals into characters, paints portraits of monsters that are a little too compelling.

And as we’ve learned from the weird fandom that’s grown around Penn Badgley’s handsome, violent obsessive in Netflix’s hit show You, you can show the whole story and people will still tweet about how hot the murderer is

So it feels like there’s almost no way to win when you’re telling the story of someone who was extremely sexy and shockingly evil and vile.

But unlike You, Extremely Wicked isn’t fiction – Ted Bundy’s victims were very real people. And in a way, focusing on his charisma instead of his crimes feels as cheap as any blood-soaked  re-enactments.

The Sign Game At The Women's Marches Is As Strong As Ever, Thanks To Gillette, Ariana Grande, And Feminist Doggos

"I wanna walk through the park in the dark."

The Women’s March was held around the world this weekend for the third year in a row.

The event was first inspired by the fury and frustration felt by women and their allies in America and beyond when Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 despite the leaked tapes of him boasting about groping women – plus, you know, all the other things women have to be mad about pretty much constantly.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Three years in, Trump is still in office, women are still being murdered, razor companies can’t make ads suggesting men stop being gross without pissing off half the internet, and everyone’s still real mad in general.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

https://www.twitter.com/nerdyasians/status/1086683283256094720

In the US, moods were buoyed a little by the recent midterm elections that saw a record number of women entering Congress, and the young figurehead of the “pink wave”, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, spoke passionately to the DC crowd about what justice really looks like.

FOLEY SQUARE, NEW YORK

WASHINGTON, DC

FOLEY SQUARE, NEW YORK

In the UK, many protesters focused on the ongoing austerity measures and Brexit, as well as other timeless concerns.

LONDON

LONDON

In Australia, though the vibe was more sombre, as violence against women took centre stage in the face of the brutal murder of international student Aiia Marsaawe in Melbourne last week.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

One sign in Sydney quoted Courtney Barnett’s ‘Nameless, Faceless’: “I wanna walk through the park in the dark”.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

In every city, along with the now-standard signs inspired by Hermione Granger, Princess (ahem, General) Leia, and various ovary and vagina-related themes, marchers of all ages, genders and backgrounds busted out the big textas to express their rage, celebrate their triumphs, and represent their communities.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

And so did their dogs.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Upskirting Only Just Became A Crime In England And Wales, Thanks To One Woman Who Fought For The Law For Two Years

UK parliament is a on a roll this week.

A UK woman who was upskirted at a festival in London two years ago was horrified to discover it wasn’t actually a crime – so she lawyered up, and today, the British Parliament made it one.

While the law had been on the books in Scotland since 2010, it somehow wasn’t covered under the UK’s Sexual Offences Act throughout the jurisdictions of England and Wales.

So when Gina Martin spotted an upskirt photo of herself on a stranger’s phone at a festival in Hyde Park in 2017, grabbed it and took it to police, she was told there was nothing she could do.

A few days later, the petition she started to change the law had 63,000 signatures, eventually racking up over 111,000.

After teaming up with lawyer Ryan Whelan, Martin fought for the law while working full-time in advertising.

A Conservative Party MP, Sir Christopher Chope, blocked the bill on an unrelated principle when it first came up – and had his office covered in lingerie by protesters as a result.

The law was approved in the British Parliament today – they found time in between thoroughly owning Theresa May over her Brexit deal – and will be made law once Royal Assent is given.

Prior to this bill, victims of upskirting could only press charges if they weren’t wearing underwear – because only then was the image considered graphic enough to be criminally invasive.

For once, Australia was ahead of the curve on this issue. Uniform national laws were drafted and introduced in Australia in 2006 – relatively soon after phone cameras became ubiquitous, making it easier for voyeurs to take upskirt and downblouse photos.

Here, the offence is punishable by up to imprisonment of up to five years (in the case of underage victims).

“There are a lot of people who are relying on this law,” Martin told The Telegraph.

“It means agency over your own body, and the power to be able to take things into your own hands and get justice when your body is treated as if it’s public property. I didn’t have that opportunity when it happened to me.”

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