Dyer: ONLY WHITE MEN: The Serial Killer in European Cinema

Abstract

Serial killing is an extremely rare phenomenon that is nonetheless not only extremely widespread in cultural
production but also widely taken to be symptomatic of, inter alia, human nature, masculinity and modernity.
What assumptions – and fears  – is the representation of this excessively marginal reality carrying about such broad cultural categories? Serial killing is also often presumed to be a characteristically American phenomenon, although it is – in its actual rarity and its cultural dominance – fully present in European culture, including film.
It is also assumed to be a specifically white and male thing, again at variance with reality. What is it about ideas of both whiteness and masculinity that fit at once so comfortably and uncomfortably with ideas of serial killing? This presentation will consider these issues, with reference to such films as ANGST (Austria 1983), ANTI-
KÖRPER (Germany 2005), LA CASA DALLE FINESTRE CHE RIDONO (THE HOUSE WITH THE LAUGHING WINDOWS, Italy 1976), COPYCAT (USA 1995), FEMINA RIDENS (Italy 1969) and PEEPING TOM (UK 1960).

 

Biographical Note

Richard Dyer is Professor Emeritus at Kings College London and Professorial Fellow at St. Andrews University. His books include Stars, The Culture of Queers, White,
Pastiche, Nino Rota, In the Space of a Song and Lethal Repetition: Serial Killing in European Cinema.