Monday, March 16, 2015

True Jinx

If you will allow me, I want to talk about a straight white male today. Yes, I know, it is highly unorthodox for a lesbian pop culture blog to spend valuable time and space talking about straight white men. That’s what the rest of the Internet is for, duh.

But if you’ve been watching the HBO documentary series “The Jinx” at all, then you know that we just have to talk about last night’s shocking-as-fuck finale. If you haven’t been watching, finish this paragraph, log onto HBO Go (or beg your friends/parents/siblings for their HBO Go password) and start watching immediately. Spoilers be ahead (if you can call events that happened in real-life spoilers…)

The series follows the so-called “Jinx” himself, Robert Durst, the eldest son of New York real estate dynast the Durst Family (net worth: $4.4 billion). The title is meant to leave some ambiguity about who in fact was jinxed, Durst or anyone who happened to meet Durst. But the facts are three people close to Durst were murdered (well, one disappeared and was later declared dead without her body being ever found). While he denies two of the killings (his first wife who disappeared and his former female best friend who was shot execution style), he admitted to killing the third person (his former next-door neighbor), chopping up his body and throwing it in the Bay.

Now, the kicker is of course Durst has not been convicted or served any prison time for any of these deaths. None, nada, nothing. And, to me, this is perhaps the most textbook example of white male privilege – especially rich white male privilege – that I have ever seen. Ah, see, I knew I could work in some liberal, lesbian world view into this post. Man-hating mission statement, accomplished!

Durst’s riches and privilege meant police didn’t look too hard when in 1982 his wife, Kathleen, disappeared. He told them she took the train back to New York and was never seen again. They pretty much believed him, despite discrepancies and out-right lies and much more. They never searched their house. They never interviewed his other family members. You know, wives sometimes they run away and stuff. Am I right, fellas? Rich. White. Male. Privilege.

Durst’s riches and privilege meant investigators didn’t look into his connection to the shooting death of his long-time friend and one-time protector Susan Berman in 2000. After NY detectives reopened the now 18-year-old case of his wife’s murder, they had planned to speak with Berman but she was conveniently killed before she could talk with anyone. Still, at the time no one pressed too hard to figure out of Durst was in California at the time or find other evidence of involvement. Rich. White. Male. Privilege.

Durst’s riches and privilege meant he could (and did) hire the best legal counsel in the world after he was arrested for the murder and dismemberment of his 71-year-old neighbor in Texas. His lawyers argued self-defense and placed some of the blame for his erratic behavior (i.e. hacking the body into many pieces and throwing it into the Bay in trash bags) on the fact that an ambitious, politically driven female district attorney was aggressively pursing him for the old case of his wife’s murder in New York. Ambitious career women, amirite, fellas? Rich. White. Male. Privilege.

I’m going to go way, way, wayyyy out on a limb and compare Durst’s real-life Texas trial to the fake-comedy trail on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” The not-real trial of the preacher who kidnapped and held Kimmy and three other women captive for 15-years as part of his underground doomsday cult played on exactly the ways we hope against hope that our justice system doesn’t work. Folksy charm sways instead of facts and likeability trumps evidence. But then you watch the actually real Durst trial unfold and it’s exactly what happened. Jurors who were interviewed afterward said they believed his story because they felt he didn’t have it in his heart to commit a murder. So he was acquitted even though, again, he admitted to killing him and chopping up his body. Likeability – or more like very carefully trained and practiced body language and answers – won. It’s so fascinating and so infuriating.

Which leads me to last night’s episode. The almost too-perfect timing that Durst was arrested the day before the finale aired for the Susan Berman murder would have made a fine ending in and of itself. But then the real ending happened and there wasn’t an O-M-G in the world big enough to express my OMG. The cliché “my jaw hit the floor” is usually just that – a cliché. But I swear to God during the final scene my jaw involuntarily dropped and if I wasn’t already sitting on the couch it may well have found the floor. We could argue the ethics of the “hot mic” confession and more than likely someone with the resources of Durst will hire an expensive-enough lawyer to make sure the footage never sees the inside of a courtroom. But, still, from a public opinion perspective you can’t really come back from, “Killed them all, of course.”

Rich white male privilege means for more than 33 years Durst has been able to continue living his life in luxury and freedom. Rich white male privilege means the Durst family continues to thrive and prosper, even just acquiring the leasing rights to New York’s new, instantly iconic One World Trade Center. Rich white male privilege means Durst can continue to afford the best, craftiest, most effective legal counsel in the world. Justice may be blind, but she certainly ain’t poor.

Look, I’m a sucker for crime stories. I loved “Serial” and there’s hardly a crime procedural I can’t get sucked into (except “CSI: Cyber” – Jesus, that show is teeth-grindingly bad). But “The Jinx” took it to another level. No, it’s not fair, that’s for sure. But it does make for some extremely riveting television.

p.s. If Durst’s blank, blinking lizard eyes don’t haunt you to your grave, I worry about your humanity.

p.p.s. Don’t worry, I’ll be back to tank tops tomorrow, just like you like it. Suggestions always welcome.


no-one said...

Tank top suggestion: Aliyah O'Brien. It's kind of tragic that this bisexual, frequently plays a lesbian, looks great in a tank top woman, doesn't yet have her own tag here on Dorothy Surrenders.

Helena said...

Maybe Teri Polo for tank top , please.

Aimsel said...

The Jink was some of the most riveting TV I've seen in some time. Holy bananas!

Shasta said...

I've never heard of that show.... Love Kimmy Schmidt though!

Check out Laura Vandervoort on Bitten for tank tops :)

Anonymous said...

O. J. did it.

egghead said...

Never seen so much apologizing in my life! It's okay Snarker-babe, we need to be thoroughly m-educated in the ways of manosphere and or white male-ist privilege. (bleh) Forewarned is forearmed!! Onward.

Now let's talk about Sasha Alexander on Shameless why don't we? Tankest toppist? Anyone?

Lisa said...

In the spirit and anticipation of the Women's World Cup in June how about a tank top pic (or 2) of Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris.

Unknown said...

The only thing better than that confession itself is imagining the faces of the documentary crew when they heard it. I mean, holy shit you know? Just wow.