by Morag Kennedy, Visiting Lecturer in Criminology at Birmingham City University

Murder is, of course, the ultimate taboo.  However it is also a human impulse.  Often when we see murder on the news, we are disgusted by its consequences: the life lost; the grieving family; its effect on that particular close-knit community.  However, there is an element of murder that entertains us.  In fact, some of us enjoy murdering avatars in games such as Grand Theft Auto or World of Warcraft on a regular basis.  It’s a time to decompress after a long day at work.  Others listen to podcasts in an attempt to solve unexplained murders.  We are intrigued by the facts of the murder.

Who did it?  Was it justified?  What drove that person to commit the murder?  Did they know what they were doing?  Was it “a crime of passion” or was it premeditated?  Have they done it before?

Despite the public’s interest in murder, it is a rather rare occurrence within society.  While property offences are often overshadowed by homicide in the media, they actually constitute the majority of police-recorded crime (Maguire, 2002).  In fact, violent crimes such as murder are often disproportionately and inaccurately reported by the media (Ferrell, 2005).

Part of our interest in murder appears to stem from us putting ourselves in the shoes of the perpetrator.  We wonder what we would do in the same circumstances.  We wonder about our justifications for such a crime.  It’s like we are testing ourselves.  Would I snap?  Would I be able to control myself?  What would be my motive?

The Spectacle of Murder: Fact, fiction and folk tales‘ is a collection of short thought-provoking pieces around the varying facets of murder.  The theme of the book, ‘murder as a spectacle’, explores the public’s fascination with murder, whether it be, reading gory crime novels, newspapers stricken with horror stories or engaging in grief tourism.  It’s clear that the subject of murder still appears to be topical within society.  It’s a conversation starter.  A dinner party favourite.  However, murder no longer exists exclusively in reality.  Gaming has allowed murder to infiltrate our online identities.  It appears that murder has evolved concurrently as we have evolved.  Our continued and unfettered relationship with media has already had an effect on the way murder is perceived.

Working as a co-editor and contributor on this book enabled me to get to grips with some really interesting and unique concepts surrounding murder.  I enjoyed working closely with some excellent authors.  Their work ethic and ideas were really inspiring.

Clearly, the way murder is perpetrated is evolving as technology evolves and as we evolve.  Will we continue to be as interested in the subject of murder in years to come?

See the Criminology courses available at Birmingham City University



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