Love, Sex, and Murder: Sociological Implications of the Movie Monster

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As stated by director Patty Jenkins in the Monster Featurette, "When you see women like Aileen Wuornos on TV and 95% of the world sees them a certain way, I was sure that the fact that she broke my heart was personal and that no one else would ever see it" (Monster). The 2003 Academy Award winner Monster, based on the true-life story of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, explores the brutal reality of highway prostitutes and the chilling consequences that can result from such a destitute situation. The director, Patty Jenkins, stated that her goal with this movie was to portray the "crossing from one side, from good to evil … [and a] last attempt to get love" (Monster). This movie explores many facets of sociology, both in the analysis of Aileen's world, as well as in reflection on how society views and addresses its discarded members such as Aileen. In watching this film, the viewer is forced to practice cultural relativism and assess what part socialization has played in the development of his or her own values and beliefs. Ultimately, Monster asks the viewer to stand in Aileen's shoes and look at the factors that culminated in the murders of seven men and a death penalty sentence. One of the most curious factors about Wuornos is her existence outside the general public perception of a serial murderer. As defined by James M. Henslin in Essentials of Sociology: A Down To Earth Approach, serial murder is "the killing of several victims in three or more separate events" (158). A phrase that is often associated with serial murderers is "cold-hearted," yet Aileen Wuornos was anything but. In fact, it was her quest for the love that had eluded her all of her life that led to her commit her undeniably horrendous acts. One can spend countless hours searching for and ruminating on possible reasons that led Aileen to the achieved status of "serial murderer." Though one may
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