Christian Bale as the Psycho in American Psycho
There is a reason murder mysteries are one of the most popular genres in both the publishing business and the movie business. Money. Both readers and moviegoers want blood and lots of it. Since we are all capable of killing someone under the right circumstances, we are drawn to entertainments which feature murder and killing.
This is our way of sublimating our own desire to kill. When we are so angry at someone we blurt out, “I could just kill him,” we are expressing the unconscious wish to kill the person, at least according to the Freudians.
FBI statistics on murder expand on this theme. In 2009, according to the FBI, 24.2 percent of murder victims were slain by family members; 53.8 percent were killed by someone they knew (acquaintance, neighbor, friend, boyfriend, etc). Hence 78% of murder victims knew their murderer. It’s why the law makes a distinction between murder in a fit of passion (you come upon your significant other donging or being donged by someone) and premeditated murder or murder with “malice aforethought.”
Only a gossamer thread of civilization separates us from spectators in the Roman Coliseum who watched gladiators fight to the death. Certainly in the years to come watching people fight to the death on television will become a legal entertainment. Just look at the popularity of The Hunger Games and of footage showing our soldiers in combat.
If you don’t agree with me then ponder this: the most watched sport in America is automobile racing. Given the boring nature of the cars going round and round in a circle, you don’t think people are watching it just to see that, do you? Come on, we want to see the car crashes.