Psycho Circus

June 22, 2012

I don’t work in the media, so it may be naive of me to ask this, but surely a report about a man who makes a video recording of himself butchering and dismembering his flatmate, which he then posts online, before sending various body parts to political parties in his native Canada and then fleeing to Europe to spark an international manhunt, is sensational enough? I mean, you don’t really have to spice up a factual story that horrific with additional bullshit in order to make it more attention-grabbing, right?

Luka here, at what I've a-gone and done!

Luka here, at what I’ve a-gone and done!

Luka Rocco Magnotta (born Eric Newman) has been a bad boy. Sometime in late May of this year he killed his roommate, “Justin” Lin Jun, a Chinese student studying in Canada since July 2011. Magnotta repeatedly stabbed the bound, naked Lin with an ice pick and kitchen knife before going on to commit unspecified acts of necrophilia and possibly cannibalism with the body. This was all captured in a video that Magnotta made of the events, entitled “1 Lunatic, 1 Ice Pick”, which he then posted on a delightful sounding website called Bestgore.com. I have not watched this video, and have mainly heard about this story only from morning news broadcasts of BBC World Service, but it was there that I encountered the aggravating detail that inspired this post. In the BBC report, and in subsequent other mainstream media reports I’ve since looked at, it was said that Magnotta’s homemade snuff movie contained a song “from the film American Psycho“, that played in the background as the murderer went about his heinous crime. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any creepier, the real-life psycho listens to a song that is somehow connected to psychos! The subtle implication being, of course, that Luka Magnotta may have been inspired to commit his brutal murder after watching and perhaps becoming obsessed with the unremarkable film from 2000.

As anyone familiar with American Psycho can tell you, the film was a screen adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s infamous novel. The story, a transgressive satire blending brutally sadistic sexual violence with a scathing assault on yuppie culture, takes place in the 1980s and contains many detailed observations on the then-contemporary consumer culture through the first-person narrative of the luridly insane Patrick Bateman, the “psycho” of the title. As such, entire chapters of the novel were devoted to, amongst other things, the main character’s exercise habits, men’s fashion, buying home stereo systems, and 1980s pop music. Accordingly, the film adaptation, starring Christian Bale and directed by Mary Harron, contained many of the songs that appeared directly in the novel alongside other hit pop tunes from the era. Harron’s film was never able to recreate the graphic intensity of the novel (the only book I’ve ever physically recoiled from at one point) so; instead, it was mainly concerned with exploring the satirical humour of the source material. No chewing on women’s intestines or forcing live rats into vaginas there.

Life ain't nothing but bitches and money!

Life ain’t nothing but bitches and money!

In one memorable scene that appeared in both the novel and the film, Bale’s Bateman attacks and murders his despised colleague Paul Allen (Jared Leto) with a shiny axe whilst using the distraction and covering noise of “Hip To Be Square” by Huey Lewis And The News playing loudly on a home stereo. This is the song I assumed was being alluded to in news broadcasts reporting on the recorded murder of Lin Jun by Luka Magnotta as it’s the most obvious example of murder and pop music juxtaposed in the film. However, my guess proved incorrect when it transpired that the song in question was “True Faith” by New Order, a rather well-known and widely covered song from the acclaimed English band. However, irrespective of what song was actually in Magnotta’s snuff movie, all the songs featured in American Psycho were popular 80s songs in their own right, with their own identities and place in pop music trivia/history entirely distinct from any association with the 1991 novel or the black comedy horror film adaptation made a decade later. Neither song contains content related to murder or violence. Further, despite repeated connections to the song and the film being made in the press, I haven’t been able to locate any comments or quotes to the effect that Magnotta himself had any specific interest in American Psycho or that he has ever mentioned it at all, despite his noted self-obsession and habit of incessantly discussing himself in multiple social networking sites and online forums.

Any time you hear the words “American Psycho” connected to this terrible crime, know that it is simply a matter of the crude practices of pure sensationalism and lazy journalism. Call me old-fashioned, but the real crime involving a man butchering another man and molesting his corpse whilst filming the events, before posting the video online and mailing decomposing body parts around Canada, is adequately fucked up already. There seems little reason to have to embellish this atrocity by making a tenuous, dubious connection to a twelve-year-old movie. These news broadcasts wouldn’t have reported that “a New Order song was playing in the background of the murder video”, because that would have been an irrelevant and uninteresting piece of information, despite being completely factually accurate. Instead, tawdry tabloid trickery was deployed here in an attempt to establish a shocking connection where, really, there is none. Magnotta is also frequently referred to in headlines as being a “gay porn actor” despite his dabbling in the porn industry reportedly being very brief and not remotely notable. The press here seems to be relying on the delusional accounts provided by Magnotta himself via his busy online life where he frequently spun exaggerated and blatantly false tales related to his sexual relationships and professional life, although it is worth noting that they are therefore taking a known fraud and mythomaniac at his word because his fantasies make for better headlines. There is a real story here, and it’s as disturbing and twisted enough on its own. Attempting to garnish the horror with cheap tricks and erroneous extrapolations is simply tasteless and unnecessary.



  1. After hearing about this and the bath salt crazed guy, my younger brother pointed out that truth really is stranger than fiction these days.

  2. Ha, oh man, I’m still trying to figure out the “bath salts” thing. I suspect there are some layers of media shite needing cut through there as well but I confess I haven’t looked into it deeply enough yet.

  3. Sadly, that’s actually not far off from how bad it is. I know a few of the states in the midwest got out ahead of it(I think they’ve been illegal in Kentucky for a few years). From the little bit I’ve read, there are two drugs that fall under the “bath salts” umbrella. Mephedrone is one of them. The other is some sort of sythesized methamphetamine. The couple of first and second hand stories I’ve heard have been pretty odd.

  4. I was fairly confused when I first heard “bath salts” named formally as Mephedrone. As far as I’m aware, that drug arrived in the UK a few years ago where it was known as miaow, or M-cat, or something similarly ridiculous. The press started erroneously describing it as “plant food”, based on it being mistaken for some kind of fertilizer. A few people I know have had some experiences with it though, as of this writing, they haven’t devoured anyone’s face.

  5. There’s a good theory re all the 1987 background music at


    Also, in one new photo Magnotta holds up the DVD box of the movie “Identity” about a condemned psycho murderer with 10 separate personalities. Photo is of Luka in tank-top standing in front of blue shower curtain. There was a cropped version of this previously, not showing DVD.

    Starting on June 25, 2012 many new photos started appearing on fan sites. Some seen before, but a few have new, original camera metadata in the pix, not there before, and one batch were run through Photoshop CS5 on June 24. Many are snapshots, not portraying Luka favorably, some with toddler in his arms at a museum and playgound, others show him him with arms around friends. Interesting to learn where these came from. Did somebody hack Luka’s private photo archive or did he prearrange their release?

  6. Thank you for the link, some interesting additional info there.

    At a guess, I would imagine it would be unneccessary for hypothetical third parties to hack into Magnotta’s private photos given that an adherence to personal privacy doesn’t appear to be one of his strong suits. In other words, there are probably countless, easily accesible images of this guy floating around out there that he himself released. Prior to his newfound notoriety for carrying out and recording a brutal murder, he was already somewhat infamous as a fraudulent fantasist obsessed with his deliberately falsified self-image.

    I’m not personally following this case all that closely, however, I just wanted to post about what I thought was an instance of irresponsible media sensationalism and thought I could lay my thoughts down on the matter in a couple of paragraphs. The above post kind of ran away with itself (a recurrent problem I have when blogging).

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