Some families, however, had to stretch their arms across a gap in the circle where one chair sat empty. That empty seat had once held a daughter, a son, a husband, a wife…..until an act of violence took them away. For their loved ones left behind, Thanksgiving Day gatherings would never again be quite so joyous.
On this same Thanksgiving Day, a behind-the-scenes battle of morals and ethics broke out among the contributors of In Cold Blog, a crime blog hosted by Corey Mitchell, a true crime author who has written a number of successful books on rape and murder. One can only imagine Corey Mitchell's moment of sadness as he sat at his Thanksgiving table remembering his first wife, Lisa Collete Popp Mitchell, who had been brutally raped by two men at the tender age of seventeen and then died unexpectedly before she reached the age of forty.
Or did he? On this particular holiday, Mitchell took time out of his family day to post Eli Roth’s short fake slasher film trailer "Thanksgiving" from the movie, Grindhouse released earlier this year. This misogynous, vile piece of work depicts a cheerleader stripping off her clothes as she jumps on a trampoline, doing a split in the air and coming down on a knife shoved up through the material; a woman performing oral sex on a bloody, headless corpse; and the bottom half of a naked woman, roasted and served on a plate in the shape of a turkey. I later discovered that Mitchell had directed a gore music video called “Blowtorch Lobotomy”, a repulsive depiction of a killing spree, for a death metal group called “Divine Pustulence,” a group Mr. Mitchell says, “Gives death a good name.”
Mike Stinski of Divine Pustulence: “Criminal profiler Pat Brown (notoriously Anti-slasher film), about In Cold Blog and our video Blowtorch Lobotomy. She claims a FICTIONAL gore music video brings pain to victims of violent true crime. We had fun making it, so it brought joy, not pain.”
A number of female contributors to the blog, all highly respected true crime authors and criminal justice professionals, were horrified, sickened, and offended that this video clip was posted as Mitchell labeled it, as a “Thanksgiving treat.” We knew that some readers, especially victims of violent crime and their families, would be highly upset that this video clip was included on a blog with a number of well respected and high profile contributors.
We asked Mr. Mitchell to remove the video clip explaining our concerns and positions. He refused. In an email to me, he said, “I am sorry you have no sense of humor whatsoever.” Then, he challenged me to contact victims’ organizations to prove that I was out of line and overly sensitive.
“As for victims' rights advocacy, feel free to call up the Parents of Murdered Children group and ask them why they invited me to be a guest speaker this past summer --- only the second true crime author ever asked to be a part of the annual conventions, the other being Anne Rule. Also, feel free to contact the following organizations that I donate a portion of my books' proceeds to including: Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN), the Doris Tatefoundation, Parents of Murdered Children-Houston Chapter, parents of Murdered Children - Heights Chapter, Crimestoppers, SAJE (Sarah/Amy/Jennifer/Eliza), and the charities which receive donations from ICB.”
An excellent suggestion! I called Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) and left a message inquiring if they were aware of Mr.Mitchell’s predilections for gore and slasher films when he was asked to be a presenter at their last conference. Office manager, Beverly Warnock called back on behalf of executive director Nancy Ruhe-Munch and told me that POMC had not been aware of any such thing. To be entirely clear on the matter, POMC issued the following statement:
"The National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) strongly objects to any gratuitous violence that is used as a form of entertainment and/or for profit. There are approximately 3000 people murdered each week in the United States. Each murder, whether in a shopping mall, or on a playground is seen as a tragedy. But when a murder is reenacted in film or for the internet it is called entertainment. What degree of acceptability would society put on these crimes if their loved one had become a victim of murder?
POMC established its Murder Is Not Entertainment (MINE) program to help instill the same empathy for murder victims and their families as we afford to other types of tragedies; to prevent the re-victimization of survivors of homicide victims, and to heighten the awareness of the marketing of such products, internet videos, etc. that are based on violence and murder and the effects they have on today’s youth.”
MINE states on their website:
POMC strongly objects to any product, promotion, film or print media which features one or more of the following:
• Graphic photos of crime scenes and dead bodies of victims
• Graphic illustrations of actual murders and victims, such as in comic books and trading cards
• Unauthorized photos of grieving family members and friends of victims
• Material solely focused on murder for purposes of entertainment, instruction, promotion or profit
• Content focused on murder, violence or stalking in materials intended for children
• Products which seek to entertain by featuring facts and stories about the lives of infamous killers
• Any media or product which depicts murderers as heroes, or elevates murderers to celebrity status
• Any product distributed as entertainment which causes further pain and grief to victims'families and friends
It seems that had POMC known of Mitchell's interest in gore, rape, and violence for entertainment purposes, he likely would not be invited to speak about the weather, let alone the tragic, devastating impact of this same type of violence on victims of horrific crimes. If you were a parent experiencing the utter horror and grief of a murdered child, how would you feel about the director of Blowtorch Lobotomy, getting up on stage professing to care about you, your child, and your loss?
I then contacted the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN). Lynn Parrish, VP of Communication for RAINN stated:
“We do not have a relationship with Corey Mitchell. We do not condone films which feature gratuitous violence against women, men, or children - as they may desensitize viewers to the harsh reality of sexual assault: One in six women,and one in thirty-three men are victims of sexual assault in America today."
In February of 2007, RAINN released the following statement when The Central Connecticut State University ran an article that was said to be a satire about rape and this “satire” led to protests on campus and in the local community.
"The newspaper's decision to publish the column is appalling and irresponsible. The FBI ranks rape as the second most violent crime that exists, trailing only murder. The trauma of sexual assault is far too devastating to be a suitable subject for ridicule.”
I guess that means videos that depict woman being knifed through the vagina and served on a plate for dinner wouldn’t qualify as suitable subject for ridicule either.
Christine Ward, executive director of The Doris Tate Foundation, founded in 1992 as a California-based crime victims organization focusing on victims rights and criminal legislation and one of the charities Mitchell claims to donate a portion of his proceeds stated:
“Our response to this claim of Mr. Corey Mitchell supporting our foundation is that we are unaware of any financial contributions that he has made to our organization; as a matter of fact we had never heard of him until you wrote to us. Donations made to and accepted by the DTCVF are used to assist victims of violent crimes – accepting a donation does not by any means stand as an endorsement of any other individual, organization or agency.
We do not condone violence of any kind. Our agency is based on assisting victims of violent crime and families of those who have lost loved ones to violence.”
Crimestoppers disseminated my email on listserve and other victims’ organizations have been equally appalled by Mr. Mitchell’s cavalier attitude toward the portrayal of rape, violence, and murder as a form of entertainment. Karen Tronsgard-Scott, director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence wrote me:
“While Mr. Mitchell's donations to organizations that serve victims is admirable, those donations do nothing to negate or absolve him from the lurid contribution he is clearly making to misogyny and the oppression of women - the roots of violence against women. And while he might be considered to be "a good guy" by the organizations to which he donates, his response to you was shockingly unsophisticated and was representative of his belief system - a belief system that is in opposition to the end of violence against women. I might be wrong about my understanding of Mr. Mitchell's beliefs - and he could certainly prove me wrong by critically thinking about your comments, learning more about violence against women and the reinforcing role that media plays in these acts and the institutional oppression of women, and walking his talk instead of using donations as a smoke screen for his nefarious activities.”
But, wait, maybe we are just a bunch of thin-skinned females who are misinterpreting slasher and gore films as misogynous and vile works when in reality most people think these films are simply slightly scary, not at all gory or repulsive, and just silly.
Why not take the words of the avid watchers of these films for fair and equal commentary?
“Despite its failings, Murder Set Pieces is shocking, sickening, misogynistic, brutal, and gory. Every horror fan should see it at least once.”
Hmm….this horror fan says he likes the stuff because it IS misogynistic, brutal and gory. I guess that means I am not unfair if I say this slasher film is misogynistic, brutal and gory, am I?
"Wes Craven's Last House on the Left has been praised as "disgusting and depraved." Whether viewed as a case study in horror-film misogyny or as a "fun" sadistic gorefest, it pushed the envelope in its day, & it would still upset anyone who'd never seen at least a samurai film disemboweling.. It's a disgusting film worth watching in order to be disgusted. I would also praise it for its ability to disturb even fans of splatter films.”
Yes, this gore freak critic says, “Last House on the Left” is a misogynist, sadist, gorefest and disgusting! And this is a fan!
And, now what about, Eli Roth, the maker of the “Halloween Treat” Corey Mitchell claims is just funny, not sick.
“Eli Roth - him again! - packs a host of sex and gore into his three-minute trailer for a potential film called Thanksgiving, including an image of a cheerleader peeling off her clothes while bouncing on a trampoline, before apparently being impaled with a large, gleaming knife - through the vagina, no less. Unsurprisingly, the cheerleader scene in Grindhouse attracted some attention from the Motion Picture Association of America, the US ratings board, and Roth was forced to change it to make the imagery much more suggestive than explicit. Addressing this at the American press junket for Grindhouse, he commented that "when I shot that trailer for Thanksgiving, I really thought there was no problem with anything - it just shows you how genuinely out of touch I am! I was like ... a full frontal labial shot, to camera, of a girl landing on a knife seemed like no problem to me ..."
You are right, Mr. Mitchell. Eli Roth thinks it is “bloody” funny too! Except those annoying MPAA folks had a smidgen of sensitivity left because at least the scene made them wince and think perhaps that was just a bit beyond the pale.
Let me end with a clear statement from one very concerned criminal profiler:
Our country is suffering from a huge problem with violent crime, much of it coming from male teenagers: School massacres, serial rapes and homicides, brutal beatings of the homeless as group entertainment, and eradication of one’s family or one’s girlfriend’s family simply because they annoy the killer or killers. Gore videos, slasher films, brutal rape web sites, and violent video games all contribute to a negative, sadistic, cruel mentality toward all human beings. There is nothing admirable about liking, making or promoting depictions of torture, death and destruction. You, Corey Mitchell, may write a readable true crime book, but you have no business calling yourself a victims’ advocate when you represent the very evil they are struggling to eradicate.
Criminal Profiler Pat Brown
December 8, 2007
If you are a victim of violent crime and need assistance, or if you wish to show your support for the work done on behalf of crime victims, please contact:
The National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children (POMC)
(888) 818-POMC (toll free)
(513) 721-5683 (phone)
(513) 345-4489 (fax)
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
National Sexual Assault Hotline
For More Information or to Volunteer
To volunteer on the National Sexual Assault Hotlines, please visit rainn.org/ohlvolunteer.
Interviews and Media Inquiries
National Sexual Assault Online Hotline
Director of Online Hotline
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
2000 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
800.656.4673, extension 3
The Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau
(916) 273-3603 phone
(888) 235-7067 toll free/fax
1809 S Street, Suite 101316, Sacramento, CA 95814 (mailing address)
email us at - firstname.lastname@example.org
Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence