Crime at its prime
by Maeve Callahan on September 2, 2020
Posted in: Talk, Uncategorized
During my drive back to Middlebury this semester, I was introduced to My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. Driving through rural Vermont seemed the perfect setting for an artfully created true crime podcast. As I twisted through sharp turns in the mountains, the wind rushed through my open window while Karen and Georgia relayed stories of bodies being uncovered in wooded parks and baffling cold cases from the early 1900s. For most of the drive and the next 48 hours in room quarantine, I was hooked. Some episodes are deemed ‘minisodes’ and relay stories from listeners, often accompanied by heartfelt messages that convey a tight listener community. In their regular episodes, Karen and Georgia delve deeper into two stories in a longer exposé. They cover stories ranging from historical events like the Zoot Suit riots of 1943 to the story of Patty Cannon, a slave trader and sinister killer from the 1800s, to the murder/suicide of the Hart family in 2018.
My Favorite Murder flips society’s fetishization of atrocities on its head. Each episode is rooted in social justice and activism, transforming our obsession with gruesome murders into percolating questions of how our justice system could ever make such crucial, racist, and inexcusable mistakes. The success of the Netflix hit Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile offers just a taste into society’s captivation with true crime. This fascination arises seemingly from the shock factor of the paradoxical nature of Bundy’s handsome face portrayed by Zac Efron in the 2019 film. While such films offer widespread entertainment, My Favorite Murder channels this captivation into something educational, productive, and active. I am all for media for the sake of entertainment, but it is refreshing to hear that true crime can become a productive conversation that calls into question racism and other problematic components of our society. In the last few days, I have heard the names of Civil Rights leaders I was never taught in school and understood individual and systemic failures that our society propagates against minority individuals. The podcast draws out empathy in listeners, gives them power through knowledge, and creates a warm, welcoming space in which to laugh, feel, think, and act.