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Who would you kill? Funny or not?

By John Milton in Media
Mon May 21, 2001 at 01:06:34 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

The site Who would you kill? invites visitors to pick their least favorite character from popular televisions shows, and describe how they would like to see that character killed. Does this encourage celebrity stalkers?


According to the WWYK website:

Every 7-10 days, WWYK? spotlights the cast of a classic (or soon-to-be-classic) television show and asks the age old question, "Who Would You Kill if you were a writer on this show?" Readers select the cast member that has caused them the most anguish and loss of tooth enamel, and then creatively describe how that cast member should be killed off of the show. We also have a Discussion Board where visitors can discuss the results of each episode, do a bit of soul-searching, and maybe heal a few of those deep wounds that so much bad acting has wrought.

Although we have all probably played little games like this among our friends, does the mass nature of the internet change our responsibility? Recently, this issue was brought before the Supreme Court in the form of The Nuremburg website which deliberately entices people to kill abortion doctors.(Nuremburg website)

Although Who would you kill? is a far cry from The Nuremburg Files, there is always the possibility that the things we say may lead someone else to violence. Do sites like Who would you kill? incite people to hurt actors or are they just harmless fun? So far I have not heard of any actor being attacked because of a website. However, if the internet has proved one thing, it is that someone, somewhere will do it. Do we encourage these people by providing them with a place to vent dark fantasies?

My personal opinion is that actors are separate from the characters they portray. The characters of popular movies and television shows are inventions of the writers. After all, if I say I want to see superman dead, which superman would that be? George Reeves or maybe Christopher Reeves? The character existed long before the men who played him. The characters of modern sitcoms exist in the writers minds. If some people can't tell the difference between that, it's not my fault.

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Who would you kill? Funny or not? | 44 comments (22 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
still no meat to it (2.00 / 1) (#3)
by rkt88edmo on Tue May 15, 2001 at 09:07:13 PM EST

>>>My personal opinion is that actors are seperate from the characters they portrait. The characters of popular movies and television shows are inventions of the writers. After all, if I say I want to see superman dead, which superman would that be? George Reeves or maybe Christopher Reeves? The character existed long before the men who played him. The characters of modern sitcoms exist in the writers minds. If some people can't tell the difference between that, it's not my fault.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Having to explain that obvious fact shows it is an inane subject.

rkt88edmo

Then vote it down (5.00 / 1) (#6)
by John Milton on Tue May 15, 2001 at 10:08:39 PM EST

You have the right to vote it down if you don't like the subject. I wasn't going to re-submit this, but there seemed to be some people interested before. It sparked a good debate about whether actors were affected by this. I only chose to take the original down, because it made me look like a bloody loony.

I'm not expecting it to get to the front page. I know there are problems with it, but I'm trying to work on that. I have some more serious topics that I want to post on. I just don't think I should go on to them until I can get this right. This is small, but I would feel very bad if I messed up on a larger issue and turned people away from a genuine cause for concern.

Your comment is helpful, because I debated over whether I should insert my opinion in the article or place it in a comment below.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
Here's an idea... (3.00 / 1) (#8)
by weirdling on Tue May 15, 2001 at 10:29:35 PM EST

How about if people took careful data and correlated it with the actual homicide rates. In other words, every time someone says, 'I wish that person were dead' or some such, and correlate it with the number of people that are actually killed by those people. Since just about everybody has said it, we can develop some crude numbers: if even 50% of normal people do this, which I don't think is untoward, then there should be some 120 million homicides over the 80 some-odd years of life, meaning 1.5 million homicides *per year* in the US.
Anyway, it has been demonstrated time and again that there are basically two reasons people kill: anger and pathological behavior. In the case of anger, whatever is the trigger of anger is the root cause, and in the case of pathological behavior, the person is obviously unhinged already.
Of the two, the pathological is far more common. While it is possible that such sites can reduce the barrier to entry, it is just as possible, in my opinion, that reducing this kind of thing can cause an increase in such behavior due to lack of a way to get the anger out.
The same can be said of violent video games. It is possible that the proxy effect of such games helps reduce violent behavior. This idea isn't new; it was felt at the turn of the century that young men should engage in sports such as boxing and football precisely because they could channel energies otherwise used in fighting each other into the rather violent game.
I guess my point is that violence will always be in humanity; it is an artifact of evolution, and we remove it to our peril. However, there are acceptable ways to channel it and control it like every other human trait.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
channeling can be good and bad (5.00 / 1) (#9)
by John Milton on Tue May 15, 2001 at 10:38:04 PM EST

it was felt at the turn of the century that young men should engage in sports such as boxing and football precisely because they could channel energies otherwise used in fighting each other into the rather violent game

In the case of sports this can be true to an extent. Physical activity can relieve tension and trigger endorphins. On the other hand, if this is true, why are most sports players such jerks. I think activities like track which are non-agressive would be better. Research has shown that channeling is not always good. If you encourage someone to get their feelings out by talking about their boss, they will not feel less negative afterwards. In fact, you're more than likely to start a habit.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
Why sports players are jerks (4.50 / 2) (#11)
by weirdling on Tue May 15, 2001 at 10:45:59 PM EST

It is well known that sports players have extremely high aggressive qualities; this is why they are good at sports. A non-aggressive person will not struggle so hard to compete. Throw in the way they tend to be worshipped, and voila, you have a jerk.
However, I question whether they would be so tame without the sports...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Not just athletics (4.33 / 3) (#12)
by John Milton on Tue May 15, 2001 at 10:52:57 PM EST

I think you hit it there. I've noticed that academically competitive people are real jerks too.

Nice thesis: Jerks are just, you know, jerks.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
Smurfs in a blender (4.50 / 8) (#13)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue May 15, 2001 at 11:22:33 PM EST

Who here hasn't had some sort of daydream of the likes of fantasizing dropping live smurfs into a running blender, or stomping scads of the little buggers into puddles of blue and red swirled muck?

Or how about Barney? I'd pay money to see Barney and Godzilla have it out. Such would be a very entertaining ten seconds or so.

But what about human characters? Bart simpson flatter than a pancake after getting squashed into oblivion by a falling safe, perhaps?

I won't even mention how the bastards killed Kenny.

Who shot J.R.? I know quite a few people that would have gladly done so just to get that particularly piece of idiocy off the air. People are not their personas. Not even comedians. Just look at Paul Reuban/Pee Wee Herman. On second thought, don't.

Oh, and what about villians? How is fantasizing about the death of a sit-com star qualitatively different than cheering when Tom Cruise or Kenau Reeves uses a passing overhead sign to decapitate a villian while on top of a moving train? Does glee at watching Bond, James Bond utilizing his license to kill make us bad people? At least in the Matrix it was all make believe. But think of all the innocent hosts for the thinking machines that died from the make-believe violence.

Like someone, somewhere (I no longer remember nor care who pointed this out to me) said, in ancient Rome thousands of people came together to watch people kill each other in arenas. In the modern world thousands of people come together to watch people watch people kill each other in arenas on the silver screen.

How about John Saul Montoya? Is he real or is he memorex? Silicon? Sure, there is a real person (or persons) behind the persona, but would one really be wishing the man behind the curtain ill will if one expressed a desire to see a bloody and phantasmagoric ending to John Saul Montoya?

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

The lesson to be learned from all of this is don't drink three glasses of Pepsi Cola when one doesn't have much of a tolerance for caffeine.

mmm, smurf in a blender (none / 0) (#17)
by John Milton on Wed May 16, 2001 at 02:38:18 AM EST

It's an ice cone flavour where I live. Very good. So's fuzzy navel.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
Barney Doom (none / 0) (#20)
by kostya on Wed May 16, 2001 at 11:24:20 AM EST

Does anyone remember the mod to Doom that replaced all the monsters with Barney cast members? Or what about Castle Smurfenstein?

Both of these games involved killing cuddly, cute characters over and over again. Listening to Barney die and say, "Uhh no! You killlllled me," was so theuraputic. And smurfs running around, screaming "Smurf!" at you as you gunned them down or blew them up? Sheer genuis.

As it is JM has included some details about the site which make it a bit more reasonable--you vote on how to write the character out of the episode. Which is more like being your own soap-show writer ("Harrington is decapitated by the food processor wedding gift; newly made widow cries in grief over having not gotten to consummate wedding."), than being some kind of fantasy stalker.



----
Veritas otium parit. --Terence
[ Parent ]
must be destroyed (none / 0) (#21)
by Sikpup on Wed May 16, 2001 at 11:58:16 AM EST

Try www.mustbedestroyed.com

They did some neat stuff to pikachu...

have fun


[ Parent ]
For the sake of argument (none / 0) (#23)
by John Milton on Wed May 16, 2001 at 01:45:54 PM EST

It is worth noting that the smurfs and pikachu as cartoon characters are not in any real danger. I think we should focus on real actors. It's not likely that anyone ever thought about dropping an anvil on Mel Blanc.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
Another similar case (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by Rand Race on Wed May 16, 2001 at 08:23:34 AM EST

In addition to the Nuremburg website case there is the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda's case against three journalist/editors accused of creating media outlets powerful enough to alledgedly incite genocide. A detailed report is here.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson

can't access detailed report (none / 0) (#44)
by mami on Tue May 22, 2001 at 12:27:07 PM EST

Is this an editorial measure by the K5 host or why is that link not working ?

[ Parent ]
Responsibility Implies Careful Communication (4.66 / 3) (#25)
by tudlio on Wed May 16, 2001 at 01:52:14 PM EST

There's an interesting cross-correlation between this story and "Should language be a tool for communication or manipulation?"

Do our words influence the opinions, intentions, thoughts and actions of others, and if so are we responsibile for the actions we inspire? A bunch of legal principles say yes (libel, war crimes, etc.) Does communication-amplifying technology increase our influence over others? If so, do we need to be even more careful what we say in venues where our message may get beyond us?

I don't know if I've figured out the answer for myself, but my intuition says that in using an anonymous, widely available medium like the Internet, we might want to be careful. That is to say, we should be even more conscious of the things we say and the possible effects of our words.

Which (to bring this back to the topic at hand) is to say that it might behoove the WWYK folks to be very careful about how they position their murder fantasies.

Before I get flamed by the civil libertarians let me point out that I'm not advocating any coercive control, just personal responsibility.




insert self-deprecatory humor here
When eyes are watching you. (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by John Milton on Wed May 16, 2001 at 03:10:58 PM EST

This is actually an old debate that started before the internet. Be a good example, because people are watching you. I remember when I was in school. We got to High School and one of the first things they told us was to be a good example for the younger students.

Reminds me of the phrase "some one sees you as a role model, be a good one."


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
actors, characters, the dark side of the moon (4.66 / 3) (#26)
by electricbarbarella on Wed May 16, 2001 at 02:39:52 PM EST

I posted this on Milton's first submission of this article, but I think it's an interesting enough post (rare, coming from me) that I should repost it.

ok, speaking as someone who does some acting on an amateur basis, I thought I'd input something here about the separation between actor and character.

You have to be very careful not to fall into the trap of getting too into character; it's a genuine danger that you risk every time you act. I have, on occasions (usually pretty sleep depped) gotten so far into character that I have believed I was the character I was playing (the most notable being the time I actually thought I was a squirrel: I thought my body was a LOT smaller than it really is, and that I was grey with a tail. of course, I'd been up for about 50 hours, so...).

Still, the point here is that actors generally try to keep their characters separate from themselves. If you ask an actor about their character, they'll say something to the effect of, "He/she was an interesting person to play, because he/she was so different from myself." When it gets right down to it, it's the writer who created the character as an abstract concept, then the actor must try to put forth the writer's ideas to an audience.

So, when I see a site like this, I see it not as wanting to kill the actors, but more as a critique of the writer who created the characters. It can serve as both good and bad critique: good in those cases where the writer WANTED the audience to hate a character, and bad when (as in the case of Full House's Michelle) the character was supposed to be lovable and ended up going too far over the top.

....but, then again, that's just my opinion.

-Andy Martin, Home of the Whopper.
Not everything is quantifiable.
On an off topic (none / 0) (#32)
by John Milton on Wed May 16, 2001 at 08:42:02 PM EST

I can't help but feel a little disgusted about the Olsen twins. I don't know what their home life is like, but I generally have a bad feeling about child actors. Usually their parents push them and destroy their childhood.

Also, I have to say that Michelle was cute in the first few episodes. The problem was, after she got older, she continued to act like she was a baby.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
Death is a part of human culture... (4.00 / 2) (#29)
by DranoK on Wed May 16, 2001 at 03:16:42 PM EST

always has been. Abstracting the nature of violence and death and censoring the nature of sadism and the desire for violence, and denying the inherit humor involved in pain, violence and massacre will do nothing to prevent violent acts from occuring. A forum for discussing sadistic desires in either a humorous or non-humorous fashion does not encourage people to act on their urges, just as preventing such a forum to be created would not remove these primal urges from the human psyche. Forums, websites, community centers, etc., are only created when a need already exists; these creations do not create a new need. So you have a choice between 100 million people harboring violent emotions, seriously or not, and disucssing them on a forum, or 100 million people harboring violent emotions, seriously or not, and keeping them to themselves. Reguardless, the outcome is the same.

Censorship of any idea, concept, moral blasphemy etc., has never proven to be effective as once a concept is mainstreamed it is already a part of culture. You cannot destroy something by denying its existence. In the same vein, you cannot create something by simply acknowledging its existence.

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
--DranoK



Playing Devil's Advocate (none / 0) (#30)
by John Milton on Wed May 16, 2001 at 03:37:46 PM EST

The opposition might say that by bringing a group together you give their emotions solidarity. Each voice amplifies. another. I personally don't think this is harmful, but I do have to admit that someone might be sitting there thinking "This guy said he wanted to kill them too. I'm really justified."

Just trying to balance the argument out.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
Ah...but the Devil's Advocate misses one point: (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by DranoK on Wed May 16, 2001 at 05:23:27 PM EST

Justification happens after the fact. Desire has never been shown to increase from many voices; complacency, sure, but complacency and security in oneself do not give rise to behavior, although a common misconception holds that to be true. I wish I had relevant research papers to link here, but alas....

Once the deed is done, of course community sites will be used for justification purposes. They are also prone over-reaction by the other side (i.e. Video games after columbine, gay attacks after every publicized child molestation, etc...), but this is beyond the point. The justifcation, however, is after the fact.

DranoK


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence
--DranoK



[ Parent ]
I just realized what you were saying. (none / 0) (#33)
by John Milton on Wed May 16, 2001 at 08:47:44 PM EST

That part about justification coming after the fact stumped me. I thought you meant after the crime. That didn't seem right. What you're saying is that we have a desire and then we justify it. Correct?

I would agree. In cases of celebrity stalkers, the real determining factor is whether the possible punishment is worth the vicarious thrill. Justification probably doesn't mean much until after their captured or after they've commited an act.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
kill off? (4.00 / 2) (#35)
by chale on Thu May 17, 2001 at 06:15:25 AM EST

don't spend a lot of time on the net, so i didn't see your first submission on this subject. this one seems coherent and it's getting some discussion, so good for you.

in regards to the topic at hand, i think the net is too vast and depersonalised to link cause and effect. i can't really see how anyone would use something like this as justification or encouragement in stalking an actor. in the real world, the character doesn't exist. to track down the actor portraying the character, a stalker would have to track the real person.

i think it would be very difficult to prove what caused any particular person to create the obsession necessary to make that person cross the line between reality and fantasy.


When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -John Muir

Who would you kill? Funny or not? | 44 comments (22 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
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