Friday, December 31, 2010

The Craigslist Killer

Among the Buzzfeed yellow badges for stories that qualify as "trashy," "cute," or "WTF" are ones that are "killer" -- featuring the tiny face of actor Jake McDorman in his role as Markoff for the forthcoming Lifetime TV movie. "Killer," by the way, in this case doesn't mean actual snuffing out of life. It designates those things Buzzfeed recognizes as unusually baroque, like what the world's fattest woman ate for Christmas dinner. Buzzfeed's aggressive, sociopath-themed partnership with Lifetime's movie about an Internet-fueled crime is on many levels a natural. The site is a daily addiction for the kind of Net culture geeks who don't need anybody to explain Craigslist and its "adult services" history to them, who probably followed the story of the brutal murder of Julissa Brisman in 2009 through the suicide of her killer, Markoff, in a prison cell last August. That just doesn't make any of it especially good for the soul. To be fair, much of the awfulness of the promotional enterprise belongs to Lifetime, a place which, if not for the phrase "based on a true story," would be little more than a collection of "Desperate Housewives" reruns. Its "Craigslist Killer" movie Web page is an exploitation bonanza, featuring a bloodstained delete key and links to "enter to win" a "Date with Death" book or look at "true crime photos" illuminating the story. Sure, let's take a gander at Brisman's grieving mother, or the funeral home where her funeral was held, right above the caption describing her as "a woman who had advertised her massage services on Craigslist." And then I'll just go shower my brain. - MARY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS

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