At the end of Netflix’s new documentary, Amanda Knox, its subject contemplates how people love monsters. In the case of the charges against Knox for the murder of her roommate, people love monsters so much, they’ll create them out of thin air.
In 2007, Seattle native Amanda Knox, 20, was studying abroad in Italy. On November 2, after Knox returned home from visiting her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, she noticed several odd things: Her front door was open; there was blood in the bathroom; and her roommate Meredith Kercher’s bedroom door was locked.
It turns out that Kercher, 21, had been sexually assaulted and stabbed in her bedroom. Knox and Sollecito were charged with murder, with Knox becoming tabloid fodder as a lascivious she-devil with a penchant for sexual violence. All evidence, however, points to her being a typical 20 year-old American student enjoying her time abroad.
While there were many people involved with the case, the documentary focuses on just four: Knox and Sollecito, of course, and prosecutor Giuliano Mignini and British journalist Nick Pisa. Both of these men unwittingly admit that they took moral and professional shortcuts to solve this mystery.
Admitting his fondness for Sherlock Holmes, who was able to solve mysteries using insignificant details, Mignini tried to emulate the literary detective when he charged Knox without having any significant evidence. Through his sexist and unfounded extrapolations, Mignini decided that Kercher was killed by both Knox and Sollecito in some sort of sex game gone wrong.
Pisa, pressured to get the scoop first without wasting time fact-checking, ran with Mignini’s erroneous conclusions in The Daily Mail. In the film, he likens the thrill of having so many front-page stories to having sex. Knowing how to increase readership, he took photos and quotes of Knox and Sollecito and printed them out of context to turn Knox into an international pariah.
Amanda Knox does a remarkable job at correcting the fallacies made about Knox through a sloppy investigation and dubious journalism. (One male reporter cattily remarked that Knox should have done her hair and make-up for court.) It also examines the reprehensible double standard for how women and men are expected to behave publicly, privately, and sexually. And while it leaves some questions unanswered and some key people un-interviewed, Amanda Knox highlights our sick tendency to butt into other people’s lives to shame and demonize them. If we like monsters so much, a mirror will suffice.