The library read through of the Fulton County Public Library is still ongoing in the 360’s (Social Problems & Social Services). I have officially reached the 364’s (Criminology). Criminals, unfortunately, are a major social problem. We can learn a lot by studying the criminal mind set and behaviors. Hopefully the knowledge gained through Criminology will help us to predict and prevent bad events from happening. (For more information on how to protect yourself from criminals, read my post about Predators.)
In The Giant Book of Bad Guys: The World’s Worst Crooks, Gangsters, Murderers, Despots, and Desperadoes by Ian Shott the topics of dictators, serial killers, robbers, and gangsters are explored through real life stories.
I’m quite interested in the true crime genre. As pointed out in my post Lying, crime sells. It’s a huge money maker in multiple formats. I’ve seen many documentaries, movies, TV shows, and have read many different types of books and magazine articles about criminals. Bad Guys is the first time I’ve encountered a category called “The High IQ” killer. Of course I have read about the typical very smart sociopaths and psychopaths, but didn’t realize that “High IQ” is an actual category. I found this to be quite interesting in the book as well as some of the historical information.
The next book about bad guys that I read was Villiains, Scoundrels, and Rogues: Incredible True Tales of Mischief and Mayhem by Paul Martin. This book is exactly what it sounds like.
Because I don’t think I could write it any better I have shamelessly copied below the descriptive summary out of the Fulton County Public Library catalog, which in turn was a quote from the publisher.
“Everyone loves a good villain! From the back pages of history, vivid, entertaining portraits of little-known scoundrels whose misdeeds range from the simply inept to the truly horrifying. Even if you’re an avid history buff, you’ve probably never heard of this disreputable cast of characters: A drunken, ne’er-do-well cop who abandoned his post at Ford’s Theatre, giving assassin John Wilkes Booth unchallenged access to President Lincoln; a notorious Kansas quack who made millions by implanting billy goat testicles in gullible male patients; and America’s worst female serial killer ever. These are three of the memorable but little-known rogues profiled in this eye-opening and entertaining book. Dividing his profiles into three categories–villains, scoundrels, and rogues–author and former National Geographic editor Paul Martin serves up concise, colorful biographies of thirty of America’s most outrageous characters. Whether readers choose to be horrified by the story of Ed Gein, Alfred Hitchcock’s hideous inspiration for Psycho, or marvel at the clever duplicity of the con artist who originated the phony bookie operation portrayed in The Sting, there’s something here for everyone. Brimming with audacious, unforgettable characters often overlooked by standard history books, this page-turner is a must for anyone with an interest in the varieties of human misbehavior”– Provided by publisher.
From this book, I learned that Ed Gein was the ultimate “psycho.” His behavior was so disturbing that the details of his killing spree (which took place in 1952) couldn’t be put together all in one movie. Because of Gein’s crimes, Robert Bloch wrote the book Psycho in 1959 which Alfred Hitchcock later turned into the movie Psycho in 1960. The Norman Bates character was based on Ed Gein. It was because of Ed Gein that Hollywood began to develop the ghastly characters of many horror movies. It wasn’t until 1974 that another movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, was produced and was also based on Ed Gein’s crime spree. The leather masked killer and cannibal was inspired by Gein. Later in 1991 another movie, The Silence of the Lambs, was in theaters. In The Silence of the Lambs, character Buffalo Bill was a demented transsexual who slaughtered women and used their skins to make various clothing articles for himself so he could dress up in them to turn himself into a woman. This repulsive behavior was based on true details of Ed Gein’s insane behavior. If Ed Gein had not gone on his murderous crime spree in 1952, the movie horror genre might not exist as we know it.
Ed Gein was also somewhat inspirational in the realm of music. You may have heard the children’s song whose lyrics include:
Buffalo Bill won’t you come out tonight
come out tonight
come out tonight
Buffalo Bill won’t you come out tonight and
Dance by the light of the moon
which likely refers, at least in part, to Ed Gein who would dress up in his “woman suit” and go outside and dance in the full moon. (There is also a creepy dance scene in The Silence of the Lambs which is based on Gein’s dancing.)
In movies or books do you ever identify with the bad guys? If you were an actor, would you want to play the good guys or the bad guys?