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How 'Making a Murderer' Has Turned the Internet Into an Angry, Victim-Shaming Mob

By Dustin Rowles | Streaming | January 15, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | Streaming | January 15, 2016 |

I have received a number of emails in recent weeks regarding our coverage of Making a Murderer, and most of the emails have been angry rants written to tell me how wrong I am and what a horrible person I am for even suggesting that Steven Avery might have committed the crimes for which he is in prison in spite of evidence suggesting, at the very least, that such a crime was not out-of-character for Avery.

Last night, however, I received an email from someone who had stumbled upon the site who did not suggest that I was an aberration in the gene pool of America. The man, who described himself as a former editor, expressed his own disappointment in the reaction from the public, and wrote something that I thought was spot-on. He wrote:

We think we want the truth. In this case, I think the truth is necessary, but we don’t really want it. We don’t want to know that not only did Steven and Brendan absolutely horrifically murder, rape and burn Theresa, but that the police and state absolutely used dishonest tactics and framed a guilty person. Why don’t we want that truth? We don’t want a scenario where everyone loses. We want to feel like the good guy wins.

There are no good guys here. Nobody wins in Making a Murderer.

I think he’s right, and with the exception of Steven Avery’s defense attorneys — who have nobly performed their jobs, which is to do everything within their power to defend Steven Avery — there aren’t any “good guys” in Making a Murderer.

But that’s the narrative that many are attempting to create: In spite of a history of heinous crimes and other acts, Steven Avery has been anointed something of a hero — or at the very least, a sympathetic character — in a real-life documentary that some are treating like a Lindelofian television drama.

I understand the inclination, but in making a hero of Steven Avery, the public has also sought out villains, and in this case, it’s anyone who presents a view opposing their own. It’s not just just Ken Kratz — a vile pubic hair of a man — or the Manitowoc County police, or even the FBI. Even I have inadvertently become a villain.

That’s fine. What’s not so fine is when otherwise innocent people who did not ask to participate in this documentary are vilified. There’s a lot of hatred being spewed toward the wrong people on the Internet, and if you’re someone who consumes everything you can read about MoM, you’ve probably seen it on Facebook threads, in Internet comments, and on Reddit.

It’s Reddit where it’s the worse, because for every intriguing theory or scrap of information Reddit digs up, there’s an attack on Teresa Halbach, a member of her family, or someone else who has spoken against Steven Avery.

For example, here’s a Reddit thread where several people are basically shitting on Teresa Halbach’s brother, as though he were in on the giant conspiracy “He was such a prick. He didn’t seem upset his sister was dead. He seemed happy to be in front of the camera. I always got the impression he was always on the verge of smiling,” or “This punk was so eager to get in front of the media after every part of the trial. Perhaps he was trying to mask his guilt?”

Mike Halbach “is one of the murderers … Of course the brother doesn’t like it, his agenda was pretty obvious throughout. He disgusts me.”


Mike Halbach was the family spokesperson. He was not trained for the position. He did not ask to be included in a documentary, and he had no say in which of the many, many statements he made was included. His sister died, and there’s not a hint of evidence that he was in any way involved, and yet, he’s become a villain.

Likewise, according to some on Reddit, the Halbach family are a bunch of hypocrites for not participating in the documentary, but for speaking against it after its release.

The extended family doesn’t get off any better. Reddit “hates” them for calling the documentary one-sided without watching it (because I’m sure they’d relish the opportunity to relive the death of a member of their family for 10 hours).

Here’s an absurd suggestion that Theresa Halbach was suffering from depression, and therefore committed suicide and the cops burned her body and framed Avery.

So, that’s where we are now?

You know the woman who tested the bullet for DNA. Here they are shitting on her. “I stopped trusting her the minute I saw that hair.” Again, she’s not playing a character. She’s not wearing a wig. That’s a real woman performing her job, and while she may have botched it, she is not King Joffrey.

The worst of the abuse, however, has been directed by Steven Avery’s ex-fiance, who you may recall filed a police report after Avery beat her, choked her unconscious, threatened to get a gun and kill her. He also admitted to his ex-fiance that he sexually assaulted a younger woman. She may have some insight into Avery’s character.

How did Reddit respond when Jodi Stachowski called Avery a “monster,” or revealed that she once ate rat poison so she could go to the hospital to get away from him? She’s “bitter ex-girlfriend,” an “alcoholic,” who would say “anything” if they “threw a few bucks at her.”

“She clearly looks like she is full of shit and trying to get her 15 minutes of fame.”

There’s even a suggestion that, when she filed police reports against Avery for domestic abuse, she made it up in order to get him out of the house for the night because she was mad.

It’s not just limited to Reddit, however. Even People magazine — where they usually settle for debating Jennifer Aniston versus Angelina Jolie — is attacking Stachowski. “Why did she stay so long” if Avery was abusive, they asked, as though they had no idea how abusive relationships work. “Drunk trailer trash wanting a pay out,” someone wrote, echoing about 5000 other comments on the Internet. “They must have offered her a lot of money!!!! SAD PATHETIC PERSON SHE IS.”

This is what Making the Murderer has turned the Internet into. SAD PATHETIC victim shamers.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.