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Monday, June 27, 2022

“My murdered aunt is not your ASMR”: the obsession with unsolved crimes on YouTube raises ethical questions | Present

Nicole sits in front of her special plush ASMR microphone, caresses it with her fingertips to produce maximum vibrations, opens her mouth to start whispering, with a barely audible whisper, and starts her story: “ This case you may never have heard of is CRAZY…” Then, and for the next 31 minutes and 25 seconds, Nicole, who does not disclose her last name, is dedicated to narrating, with all kinds of bloody details, the murder and subsequent dismemberment of Susan Leyden, a 68-year-old Brooklyn woman. . Leyden’s head was found in the apartment of her alleged killer, Marcellin Harvey, and her torso in a shopping cart on the street. Later, video footage was found of the serial killer, who is 83 years old and gets around in a motorized wheelchair, carrying Susan Leyden’s leg wrapped in cling film through a shopping mall. As she explains all of this, interspersed with images and videos like the one of her leg, Nicole keeps up her delicate, coo-like purr, as is always the case in ASMR, which aims to generate a pleasant and relaxing tingle. This youtuber, who has her own channel with 11,800 subscribers, is one of the practitioners of a booming subgenre, that of videos that use macabre stories as material to create entertainment, an evolution of the true crime genre that also includes makeup tutorials in which someone is doing the contouring while explaining bloody crimes. Danielle Kirsty, a British woman who combines her YouTube channel with a podcast on the same subject called The Criminal Make Up, is a good example. All her videos, which are close to 50 minutes long, begin with her with a washed face and hairpins clearing her forehead. In the intro, she previews what case she is going to describe. For example, that of Timothy Jones Jr., a South Carolina man who in 2014 killed his five children between the ages of one and eight and put them in garbage bags. “Timothy was not a nice man,” warns Kirsty. The YouTuber likes to start stories from the beginning. For example, in the case of Jones Jr., she tells the family history. “Timothy’s grandmother, Roberta, got pregnant at age 12 because her stepfather repeatedly raped her,” she says, as she daintily applies bright orange eyeshadow. “Timothy almost crashed his car into an 18-wheeler when he was with his wife and his five children,” she says, while applying purple eyeliner. By the time she gets to “June 30, 2019, Timothy Jones Jr. was sentenced to death,” Danielle Kirsty is already wearing elaborate makeup on her face, including false eyelashes, peach-toned blush, and lipstick. creamy and shiny. Then, she says goodbye to her with the photos of the five murdered children and reminding her followers that they can also find her on the podcast and that there is a new paid episode there. She will take a week off, but she will be back in 15 days because she has, she says, an endless case list. That particular video has close to half a million views. Alongside crime ASMR and gory story makeup tutorials, there is a third sub-genre that grew exponentially during the pandemic, True Crime Mukbang. Mukbang videos, which originated years ago in Korea, consist of someone filming themselves eating a giant plate of food, usually fast or very greasy food, talking to the camera and interacting. Although it is always difficult to write the history of the Internet, the most probable thing is that the inventor of that very particular subtype, the Mukbang of events, is Stephanie Soo, a Korean-American mukganger who lives in Atlanta. Soo had been filming herself for a while as she gobbled down, say, 10 packets of spicy instant noodles in a giant bowl. But in January 2019, she tested content with a plot twist: she would record herself while she swallowed the “last meals” that some death row inmates had chosen. For example, Ted Bundy, the rapist and serial killer of at least 30 women during the 1970s. While he was doing it, he was telling the story of those murders and rapes. “Are you feeling weird?” She asks her off-camera boyfriend at one point, a regular character in her videos that her followers know as the “stephiance” (Stephanie’s fiancé). . He says not especially. Video worked especially well. “People responded. It was fascinating,” Soo explained in an interview with NPR, the American public radio. That has happened to many generators of this type of content that are almost entirely young women. American Bailey Sarian ran a beauty channel for five years to solid but understated reception. Then, one day in 2019, she came up with the idea of ​​bringing her two passions together: makeup and crimes. He made a video dissecting the Watts family case, an event that took place in Colorado in 2018 in which the father of the family, Chris Watts, 38, strangled and killed his wife, who was 15 weeks pregnant, and their two daughters, ages four and three, Bella and Celeste. It turned out that Sarian had found a vein. If the most viewed video of her until then had achieved 9,000 views in the first 24 hours, as this Mashable article explains, the one of the Watts family easily reached 11,000 and showed a spectacular progression from there. Simon Hobbs and Megan Hoffman, two British researchers who study the intersection between gender representation and true crime (both have authored a chapter in a collective book titled Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered: Representations of the Victim in the true crime after #MeToo) and were fascinated by these three phenomena, to which they dedicated an academic paper that was published in the journal Crime Fiction Studies. What they point out there is that all these online content producers use bloody events as a differentiator in a saturated market –it makes sense that a video of makeup + morbid murders is seen more than just one of makeup, if both are popular content– , which has ethical consequences. In addition, with academic neatness, they point to the “contradiction” because on the one hand the phenomenon “empowers” women creators of content within true crime and, on the other, it replicates and multiplies the idea of ​​exploiting the victims, almost always women and children, as entertainment material. “We believe that the only way to produce event content in an ethical manner is to obtain the consent of the family and involve them in the storytelling process. These hybrid YouTube genres make an attempt to show sensitivity towards victims in various ways, for example by watching their vocabulary, omitting graphic forensic details and asking the audience for respectful speech, but these videos are intended as entertainment. And as such they do not bother to point out social and cultural aspects that have been overlooked in the coverage of known cases”, both point out. A very clear example of this is the ASMR video of the dismemberment of Susan Leyden. The alleged murderer, accused of many other deaths, is a trans woman and the local New York press, tabloid tabloids like the New York Post, sensationalized this aspect. “Instead – Hobbs and Hoffman continue by email – these videos are part of the influencer culture that invents content creators to build differentiated brands. Hence, crimes are combined with Mukbang, ASMR or Get Ready With Me videos, in which a person gets ready to leave the house while talking to the camera. Given the nature of YouTube content, where speed of production and the need to generate many videos in a short amount of time are key, the chances of such content being ethical are low.” These subgenres, which are generally confined to their audience niches, became more visible to mainstream culture recently from a Twitter thread written by a user using the name @muffmuseum. She, who was oblivious to this content, accidentally came across two ASMR videos that narrated the death of her aunt, Shelley Jones. “Dear true crime community, my aunt is not your ASMR,” she began the thread. She went on to explain that her aunt disappeared eleven years ago and that she is horrified that someone would get a “tingle” hearing about Jones’s possible murder. The user was especially bothered by the debate that was created in the comments section – a primary objective of true crime is to generate a community of fans of specific cases who analyze and discuss them – weighing up the motives of the alleged murderer and adding hypotheses about his grandmother and his cousin, a girl daughter of the victim. “What makes you think it’s okay to drag a girl into your true crime world fantasy?” He asks, asking the creators of this type of video to stop making them and think about the people who make them. victims leave behind. As a result of the thread, many Twitter users were scandalized by the existence of this type of video. One wonders, however, if there is so much difference between this semi-amateur content and the hundreds of documentaries that fill Netflix and HBO menus about unsolved cases and especially attractive victims, whether young, beautiful, rich or the three things at once. “There is no regulation on YouTube and that can lead to problematic and exploitative products,” admit Hoffmann and Hobbs. “However, YouTube also gives space to marginal voices who can build communities in ways that are not possible on platforms. And, under the veneer of professionalism of Netflix, which gives the impression of providing serious and quality documentaries, what lies behind it is as dangerous as the material that is uploaded to YouTube. For starters, because Netflix’s reach is so much larger and because they often mix fiction and non-fiction in a way that confuses the viewer. Netflix has a particular style that always focuses on images of degradation and destruction of the body, flashy intertitles and pop music that makes these narratives are framed as something very exciting. Instead of that bombastic style, hybrid-genre YouTubers, they say, treat crimes as gossip, which leads to another set of problems. But, according to scholars, it makes them seem close. “They relate to their audience by creating a feeling of intimacy, care and a sense of community through the fandom of the crimes,” they say. Both the creators of this type of content and their audience are, in their vast majority, young women, which is in line with the increasingly established stereotype of the basic girl who comes home, drinks a glass of wine to the brim. target and a documentary about an unsolved crime. Saturday Night Live explored that cliché last season in a musical skit that included lyrics like: “Two sisters were murdered on a cruise ship in the Bahamas / I’m going to sit and watch it while I fold my pajamas.” The journalist Rachel Monroe analyzed this phenomenon in the book Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime and Obsession and concluded that already in the nineties the genre began to attract a female audience because it dealt with issues (violence against women themselves and children) that had traditionally been considered a domestic matter. In addition, there she analyzed the so-called Missing White Woman Syndrome, the fact that the media gives priority to violence committed against attractive light-skinned middle-class women, ideally mothers or university students. “There is a preference for victims who can be superficially marketed as innocent,” she wrote. Videos in which a person comments on an event while eating, putting on makeup or tickling a microphone are, without a doubt, an innovation in a genre as old as life itself, but they also deal, for the most part, with those perfect victims, the ones who, we are told, did not deserve it.

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– Article Written By @Begoña Gómez Urzaiz from https://smoda.elpais.com/moda/actualidad/mi-tia-asesinada-no-es-tu-asmr-la-obsesion-por-los-crimenes-sin-resolver-en-youtube-plantea-dudas-eticas/

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