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Paradise Lost : Documenting a Southern Tragedy

Paradise Lost : Documenting a Southern Tragedy king adkins on 5 may 1993, three eight-year-old boys--Chris Byers, Michael Moore, and Stevie Branch--were murdered in the woods outside of West Memphis, Arkansas. The murders themselves were enough to unsettle the small, southern community; but passions climbed even higher when, within the month, police arrested three local teenagers for the crime. Those passions reached a fever pitch after prosecutors developed a theory that the murders had been committed as part of a satanic ritual. One always hesitates to begin deconstructing such an event, for fear that the very real fact that three innocent children lost their lives might be overshadowed by what can seem in comparison to be trivial questions of theory. In this case, however, the "reality" of events seems already to have been irretrievably lost. If the murders were real, what followed appears much less so, and in this instance some measure of dissection may almost be necessary if we are truly to understand what took place. Viewed analytically, it becomes clear that nothing in the case is as it seems. The arrests, the ensuing trials, the debate over the guilt or innocence of the "West Memphis Three" (as the three teenagers have come to http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Film and Video University of Illinois Press

Paradise Lost : Documenting a Southern Tragedy

Journal of Film and Video , Volume 60 (1) – Mar 31, 2008

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1934-6018
Publisher site
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Abstract

king adkins on 5 may 1993, three eight-year-old boys--Chris Byers, Michael Moore, and Stevie Branch--were murdered in the woods outside of West Memphis, Arkansas. The murders themselves were enough to unsettle the small, southern community; but passions climbed even higher when, within the month, police arrested three local teenagers for the crime. Those passions reached a fever pitch after prosecutors developed a theory that the murders had been committed as part of a satanic ritual. One always hesitates to begin deconstructing such an event, for fear that the very real fact that three innocent children lost their lives might be overshadowed by what can seem in comparison to be trivial questions of theory. In this case, however, the "reality" of events seems already to have been irretrievably lost. If the murders were real, what followed appears much less so, and in this instance some measure of dissection may almost be necessary if we are truly to understand what took place. Viewed analytically, it becomes clear that nothing in the case is as it seems. The arrests, the ensuing trials, the debate over the guilt or innocence of the "West Memphis Three" (as the three teenagers have come to

Journal

Journal of Film and VideoUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Mar 31, 2008

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