Who’s owning my name?
Is my name mysteriously important? Does my face? What about my life? My story? Why does my name allude to events in which I had no hand? I come back to these questions, as others continue to benefit without my agreement from my name, face, and narrative. The film Stillwater, most recently.
In a profit-driving piece to promote a for-profit picture, this new film by DirectorTom McCarthy, with Matt Damon, is “loose” or ‘directly influenced” by the “Amanda Knox Saga.” On this sentence, “Amanda Knox story, I’d want to halt right now. What is that all about? Does anything I’ve done pertain to? No. It relates to the incidents caused by a burglar called Rudy Guede’s killing of Meredith Kercher. It alludes to the bad work of police, the prosecution’s tunnel vision, and reluctance to accept their mistakes, which twice resulted in me being convicted wrongly by the Italian authorities.
I had almost zero agency in those four years of miscarriage and eight years of trials. In that ‘saga’ everyone else was more influential than I was during the occurrences. The Italian authorities’ misfocusing on me resulted in my misfocus on the media, which molded my presentation to the world. I didn’t have any control of my image in prison, there was no voice in my tale.
Many people complained that Meredith was neglected. This emphasis on me. But who were they guilty of this, of course? The authorities of Italy are not. It’s not the media. Me! It was somehow my fault that Meredith’s cops and media focused on me. This resulted in my name becoming the name connected with the sad events I did not have any effect on 15 years later. The name of Meredith, like that of Rudy Guede, is typically omitted out. This was the NY Post headline when he was released recently from jail.
Following #metoo, there are more individuals who come to see how power relations form a tale. Who had the authority in the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky relationship? The chairman of the intern? What you label something matters. It matters. The “Lewinsky scandal” does not accept the wide difference in power at this event, and I am happy that there are more people calling it the “Clinton affair,” naming it according to the person with the greatest number of agencies in this sequence of events.
I only wanted to mention the events in Perugia as “The Murder of Rudy Guede’s Meredith Kercher,” that I was to be an innocent roommate as an outermost personality. But I knew my false belief and following proceedings had been the narrative folks had fixated. In the future, I know they’ll name it the “Amanda Knox story.”
Don’t blame me because other people are concentrating on me rather than Meredith. And you know how you talk about these occurrences impacts all the persons involved: The family of Meredith, Raffaele Sollecito, my family, and I.
Don’t do like Pete Hammond did when Stillwater reviewed Deadline and called me a condemned killer, leaving my acquittal. To rectify it, I asked him. No answer.
And perhaps don’t call this, as The New York Times did in the profiling of Matt Damon, the “sordid Amanda Knox tale” if you have to allude to the “Amanda Knox saga.” Sordid, moral filthy. Sordid. Not a big adjective to put next to your name. Often enough repeat anything, and people believe in it.
Now, Stillwater is certainly not the first item to steal my narrative off at the detriment of my reputation without my authorization. Naturally, I sued her with the horrible Lifetime film, which deleted a series of dreams where I was shown as Meredith’s killing.
A few years ago the Fox series Proven Innocent was produced and commercialized as “What if Amanda Knox was turned into an attorney?” The first thing I heard from the makers was the chutzpah they had to approach me on the day of their debut to help them market it.
The recent book of Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers, contains a whole chapter on my situation. On the day of the release, he went to ask whether he may use parts from my audiobook. Prior to drawing his judgments about me, he did not think of asking for an interview. Gladwell answered my email criticism and was kind enough to join me on my show Labyrinths. To his credit. Tom McCarthy and Matt Damon, I extend this invitation, which I hope will hear what I’m about Stillwater to say.
“Directly inspired by the tale of the Amanda Knox.” Tom McCarthy, Director of the Vanity Show, says, “He can only fathom how he would feel in the shoes of the Knox.” …but that didn’t encourage him to ask me how my shoes felt. In the “Amanda Knox story,” he was interested in the family dynamics. “Who are the individuals who [her] visit, and what are the connections? How’s the tale all about the story?” My family and I have plenty to say and I’d tell McCarthy… if he’d ever sought out.
‘We chose, ‘Hey, let’ ‘
“We said, ‘We’ve decided, ‘Hey, leave the Amanda Knox case alone.’ “But let me take one element of this narrative — a lady who studies abroad and ends up in prison — and fictionalize everything about it.” Let me just stop you. My tale, it’s not about an American lady “engaged in spectacular crime” studying overseas. It is about an American lady who is NOT involved but has been wrongly convicted of a spectacular crime.
McCarthy explained to the Vanity Fair, “The finale of Stillwater was influenced by the script’s demands and the results of Knox’s case.” Cool, so I wonder, is the person really innocent based on me?
Once that happens, she asks the assassin to assist her to get rid of her partner. She didn’t mean killing him, yet her request led to the killing indirectly. How do you think my reputation will be affected?
I am still accused “of knowing something that I don’t divulge,” “of having been somehow involved, even though I didn’t plunge the knife.” So the fictitious version of Tom McCarthy is merely the tabloid portrayal of myself as a conspirator.
By deceiving my innocence and my complete lack of participation and by eliminating the role of the authorities in my misconception, McCarthy supports a guilty and distrustful person’s picture of myself. And Matt Damon’s star power ensures that both are guaranteed to gain a lot from this “Amanda Knox story” fictionalization which will surely have many visitors wondering: “Perhaps Amanda’s actual life was somehow involved.”
That takes me to my notion of the screenplay! It is inspired by Matt Damon’s life firsthand. He’s an actor, famous, etc. Except that I am all about to fictionalize and in my film, the Damon-like guy is implicated in a murder. He didn’t dip the knife by himself, but he’s sure anyway faulty. His name is Damien Matthews, who has performed in the espionage movies of Jackson Burne. He works with a Harvey Weinstein guy, Tim McClatchy. It is roughly reality-based. Matt or Tom, okay, shouldn’t bother?
I laugh, but I recognize, of course, that Tom McCarthy and Matt Damon do not have a moral responsibility to consult me when they take advantage of a narrative that negatively distorts the image I hold. And I’ve reiterated my proposal for a labyrinth interview. I think we could have a great discussion about identity and public perceptions, which we should exploit in the public imagination a name, face, and narrative.
I’ve never requested to be a public person. That was the option for me made by the Italian government and worldwide media. The news and the public would not allow me to become a private person again after I was acquitted and freed. I came back to school and my pupils suddenly photographed me. People living in my building fabricated tabloid stories, I worked at a bookshop with minimal pay to be faced solely to counter stalkers. I was hit by photographers, my tale and pain were (and is) replayed constantly for amusement, and I was accused of turning attention away from Meredith Kercher’s memories of the media.
In the relative anonymity before Perugia, I was not permitted to go back. My only alternative is to remain idle as others continue to misrepresent my character or struggle to re-establish my well-destroyed reputation.
This is a struggle uphill. I’m not going to succeed definitely. But before that, I was here. I know what the unlikely chances are like.