Last night the hotly anticipated second season to American Crime Story began airing in America. The show starts with the murder of fashion icon Gianni Versace (played by Edgar Ramirez) and then explores the aftermath as the police investigate into the whereabouts of his murderer, Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss), while the infamous Donatella Versace (Penelope Cruz) takes the helm of her brothers fashion empire. The show will also look at the life of Andrew Cunanan, focusing on his psychopathic personality, the events that led to his murder spree and his ability to hide away for months in plain sight.
One of the great things about the first episode is the intertwining of the truth, the sensational and the straight out lies. Cunanan was known as a pathological liar who told gay people he was gay and straight people he was straight. He was a mirror that reflected back to the people around him what they wanted to see and what they expected. One of the most disturbing scenes in the first episode is Cunanan seeing the news footage of the murder and looking at the woman in front of him to see how he is meant to react. As he mirrors her pose by putting a shocked hand to his mouth his eyes glisten, confessing the smile that lurks behind the hand.
Cunanan treats himself like a blank canvas in which he can project the identity that the individual in which he is communicating with wants to see. However, in this case the murderer is not the only one guilty of this. The police fail to care about the homosexual victims or care about justice for them. This lack of care by the police makes the victims nothing more than bodies with no individual personalities. This is evident in the failure of the police to properly look at the first victim but rather identified him, by the brown hair and the placement of the body, as a different homosexual male that then delayed the case.
Versace’s murder was in the 1990’s when homosexuality was both severely misunderstood and undesirable. The loss of two average homosexual male lives was not of interest to the police because the victims were seen as outsiders and outcasts anyway. People wouldn’t care about their deaths because homosexuality was associated with AIDS, sin and many other negative beliefs.
This lack of understanding can be seen in the show when the police officer, awkwardly interviewing model and designer Antonio D’Amico (Ricky Martin), struggles to understand and define their uncommon relationship. Additionally, Donatella prepares for the dirt that would be spread about her brother as his life becomes overtly public.
In the real life manhunt, based on no evidence, Cunanan’s murder spree was blamed on him discovering himself to be HIV positive which a later autopsy proved to be untrue. As a homosexual male Cunanan was automatically assumed to have AIDS. As a result of this lack of understanding of homosexuality there was also a lack of care about their loss of life, whether that be from murder or AIDS and thus the police force dwindled and dawdled on the capture of a dangerous individual.
It was not until the murder of a heterosexual Chicago Tycoon that Cunanan’s capture was prioritised and he was put on the Ten Most Wanted List. However, even after this Cunanan avoided capture for months hiding in plain sight on Miami beach. There is a reason why this case is known as the largest failed manhunt in U.S. history.
Like ‘the People Vs. OJ Simpson’, both seasons deal with police neglect. In the first season, likely police tampering meant that OJ Simpson was let go as, like ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, people began to distrust the police and their actions despite the overwhelming evidence implying Simpson was guilty. The second season seems to deal with police neglect differently as the show, in its first episode, already hints to the lack of police activity in finding Cunanan, since his previous murders were not seen as that important.
It shall be interesting to see where Ryan Murphy and Tom Rob Smith go with this theme of police neglect and how they will explore it. While American Crime Story focuses on crimes, its first two seasons, and possibly the future Hurricane Katrina season, seem to look at the negligence and morally criminal actions of those in authority who have been trusted to help and provide justice for the victims.
If the OJ Simpson case is a classic example of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, then the murder of Gianni Versace mirrors the ‘Hare and the Tortoise’. The Police who dawdle and sleep too long on the capturing of Cunanan only wake up when its too late. A world famous fashion designer has been murdered and they have lost. America’s Police Departments need to read more Aesop’s fables.