Natural Born Celebrities
Serial Killers in American Culture
David Schmid provides a historical account of how serial killers became famous and how that fame has been used in popular media and the corridors of the FBI alike. Ranging from H. H. Holmes, whose killing spree during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair inspired The Devil in the White City, right up to Aileen Wuornos, the lesbian prostitute whose vicious murder of seven men would serve as the basis for the hit film Monster, Schmid unveils a new understanding of serial killers by emphasizing both the social dimensions of their crimes and their susceptibility to multiple interpretations and uses. He also explores why serial killers have become endemic in popular culture, from their depiction in The Silence of the Lambs and The X-Files to their becoming the stuff of trading cards and even Web sites where you can buy their hair and nail clippings.
Bringing his fascinating history right up to the present, Schmid ultimately argues that America needs the perversely familiar figure of the serial killer now more than ever to manage the fear posed by Osama bin Laden since September 11.
Introduction - Idols of Destruction: Celebrity, Consumerism, and the Serial Killer
Part One: A History of Serial Murder
1. The Victorian Killer as Media Star: Jack the Ripper and H. H. Holmes
2. Defining the Enemy Within: The FBI and Serial Murder
Part Two: Serial Murder in American Popular Culture
3. Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers and the Hollywood Star System
4. Out of This World: Aliens, Devils, and Serial Killers in Television Crime Drama
5. Next Door Monsters: The Dialectic of Normality and Monstrosity in True-Crime Narratives
6. The Unbearable Straightness of Violence: Queering Serial Murder in True Crime
Epilogue - Serial Killing in America after 9/11