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If it fell to a comic postmodern to allegorise the collective American obsession with law and order and with paedophilia, sometime shortly after she had devised Law & Order: SVU she would have concoted a secret suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey case, one who might have something to do with children and education, an historical association with kiddie porn and mullets, and an answer to the riddling acronym "SBTC," initials which closed the ransom note found shortly before the murdered JonBenet herself at the Ramsey house Boxing Day 1996.

I doubt the most adventurous mind could have added the flourish of Karr's own discovery lodged in a cheap apartment hotel in Bangkok in anticipation of gender reassignment. Ogling press reports of Karr's meals (King Prawns and Valrhona chocolate cake) entertainment (Dan Brown paperback, The Last Samurai on screen) are oddly reminiscent of the final scenes of Hannibal, where Anthony Hopkin's Hannibal Lecter claws open a Dean & DeLuca boxed meal to be shared with a new young friend on board the plane they ride to Buenos Aires.

These vignettes of gustatory excess and abject criminality are emblematic of the late nineties' post-OJ demarcation of a celebrity public sphere replete with both its own criminals and its own "better than fiction" mysteries, and this makes Karr a curiously nostalgic figure, the return of a certain late 90s moment nearly a decade on. John Karr can distract, at least momentarily, an adult audience otherwise mesmerised by the decline of the American Empire, otherwise alienated by popular culture aimed firmly away from them, otherwise fixated on the freefall anxiety of a future framed in terms of escalating temperatures, gas prices, and wars.


I write about predators like Karr and others of his ilk in two of my several books. What Karr and other predators need is described in "Let No Man Be My Albatross" and "FATA! The Act of the Avengeance." In both cases the predator gets to meet up with the fathers of the victims.

Nick Borelli

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This is the blog for thinking and talking about culture, Cultural Studies and cultural analysis at the University of Sydney.