Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Criminal Hobbyist

My name is Shay and I am a criminal hobbyist. I've said it. I mean it. It is what I do. 

But wait, before you go calling the cops on me and I see some blue and red flashing lights come my way, what I meant was that I spend a lot of time reading, listening to, or watching crime biographies/podcasts/documentaries. Like an embarrassing amount of time. So much Forensic Files that sometimes Andrew legit makes me change the station because he can't stand watching another episode (or more likely an episode that I've already watched 3 or 4 times). In college, I even made a cameo appearance in a show that I will not name because after I saw myself as a murderer in a terrifying blonde wig I wanted to commit s crime... mostly because it was clear that I should never go blonde.

Enough of these embarrassing personal problems that I shouldn't share with the internet and on to real questions like why do people like these books, podcasts, and shows? Think about that for a minute. Legit almost 24 hours a day you can turn on your TV and see CSI, Law and Order, Snapped, Forensic Files, Criminal Minds or possibly all of them on at once. These are not happy go-lucky, feel good shows. No one puts down that remote feeling remotely better about humanity, but idiots like myself watch them constantly! It isn't just TV, my kindle and podcast app are full of criminal material. 

I think people consume this media (myself included) because it is both thrilling (are they going to catch the bad guy by the end of this 44 minute program) and feeds on the cultural status quo of society (we want the good guys to solve the problem and are utterly unsettled when those closing credits sweep on by without somebody being caught). I have spent many a sleepless night re-envisioning what X situation would look like and what window I would jump out of to get away. I also believe that instead of flight or fight, I would (just curl up and die or) use my immense fictional criminal knowledge to save the day- a la Home Alone.

So in the odd case that you are NOT terrified by the three paragraphs above, I have 3 recommendations for your (or crime hobbyist gateway drugs) for the genre.

Image result for sword and scale nurse
Yes, sometimes this podcast scares the pants living daylights out of me, but you want to talk about insane true stories... this is a good one. My recommendation is to start with episode 40 about a nurse. Also, and I mean this, skip ALL the episodes about crimes with pregnant women. I wish I had. Disclaimer- this show can get a bit intense, so take my recommendation if you aren't going to lock yourself up in your bathroom and never leave the house again after listening. Side note- listening to this while out for a run makes my paces freakishly fast; talk about good run fast to get away from the bad guys visualization.

I found this a very interesting read. It tells the story of a wife and stay at home mom who, by random association with an individual, changes her whole life to become a criminal profiler. She talks about cases and how she used the psychology of the crime to create a framework for police, investigators, and family on what kind of individual they should be looking for. I picked up a copy at the local library and was done in 2 and a half days.
So there is about an 85% chance you have already been evangelized about this documentary series or watched it yourself, but this was another pop culture/ Netflix hit that I dove full force into. I don't want to spoil anything, but tell me what you think? Guilty... innocent... Brendan? 

For extra credit- here is a fascinating article by the New Yorker on the idea of Making a Murderer as a representative for a subgenre... and why it failed both the families of those involved and (in my opinion more interesting) how it replaced the certainty of Steven Avery doing something wrong to the (now) public sentiment that the sheriffs have done wrong.

Any other closeted criminal hobbyists out there?


  1. *raises hand* I used to watch a massive amount of basically every show on Investigation Discovery. Eventually I got really freaked out and stopped watching it 24/7, but I do still watch Dateline and stuff like that every now and then.
    I found Sword and Scale this summer and binge listened at work. It sucked me in, but you're right, it's super intense. I don't know how you listen to it when you run, I'm paranoid enough as it is!

  2. Ha this is so funny! I love watching Dateline since it's usually real stories, although they're sometimes terribly reenacted. And I've have heard so much about Making a Murderer. I need to watch it!

  3. We started Making a Murderer last night! We've only watched one episode, and while iwasn't as obsessed as everyone else I am looking forward to the next!

  4. Oh I think I am the exact opposite of you in this regard! I cannot watch/read/listen to anything criminal mind related... freaks me out too much, haha. But I am curious as to which one you made a cameo in!

  5. I was a crim major in college so I love this stuff as well!! Going to look into the profiler! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  6. I seriously love this stuff. It's awful and I feel slightly ridiculous but I can't help myself. The podcast and book sound really interesting and honestly I just don't know what to think about the MAM situation. I feel like the documentary left out a lot of information from the prosecution but I also can't help but feel so bad for the nephew. Ahhhh! This stuff gives me nightmares and yet I keep coming back for more... -Lisa

  7. You're absolutely right, these shows are everywhere! Mike recently started watching Making a Murderer and I am thinking about joining him in this new show addiction!

  8. not gonna lie, i avoid this stuff if i can. i know lots of people love it, but i prefer to live in a happy fairytale bubble where things like this don't happen ;)

  9. i'm kind of fascinated by this stuff as well. i got into this true crime phase a few years back and read everything about serial killers; the creepier, the better!