The powerful new documentary “Amanda Knox” emphasizes the spike in awareness of sexism just since 2007. Knox, the American college student twice tried and cleared in the slaying of her roommate nine years ago in Italy, endured microscopic media scrutiny of her sex life and demeanor that today seems hideously anti-woman.
Knox supporters objected to the coverage then, arguing it slanted public opinion – an argument furthered by archival footage, in “Knox,” of a crowd of Italians protesting Knox being freed on appeal in 2011.
This was before social media began playing watchdog over social-justice matters. Were the tabloids to present Knox today as the depraved vixen they did then, a firestorm would erupt on Twitter. The press sexuality-shamed Knox, essentially, because she acknowledged having sex with Raffaele Sollecito, a young Italian man Knox had known only a week before her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, was killed.
Misogyny was also clear in criticism of Knox’s facial expressions (shades of Hillary Clinton being urged to “smile”) for lacking appropriate gravity. But the media ran with the sex angle, and with the prosecution’s theory that Knox, Sollecito and Rudy Guede – whose conviction stuck – colluded in killing Kercher after a “sex game” gone awry, with Knox as ringleader. The appeals court rejected Knox’s and Sollecito’s convictions in 2013, but they later were reinstated, before the Italian Supreme Court cleared the pair in 2015.
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Filmmakers Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn deftly cut through the legal tangle while displaying considerable interviewing skills. For example, they obviously made British journalist Nick Pisa feel comfortable enough to recall his giddiness at landing tabloid front pages with lurid stories tied to a dead 21-year-old.
Blackhurst and McGinn show more objectivity than the advocate filmmakers behind Netflix’s “Making of a Murderer” did, yet lean toward Knox’s side. Why not? She’s been exonerated. Yet they also make it clear why she was a suspect: Knox changed her story about her whereabouts the night of the slaying, and implicated her boss, who had an airtight alibi. She had been worn down by police, Knox says in a new interview.
Knox can sound as if she is reading from a script while discussing that night nine years ago when Kercher was killed. It was a “a robbery gone wrong,” she says, her delivery chilling in its near-breeziness. (Guede, a Knox acquaintance, had a history of break-ins).
But a chilliness is not a crime. Even in a woman.