Amanda Knox Calls Out Matt Damon’s Stillwater for Perpetuating Her Mistreatment in the Media
The upcoming Matt Damon film Stillwater says it is loosely based on the “Amanda Knox story”—without her consent, and the real Amanda Knox has something to say about that.
Stillwater, a crime drama directed by Tom McCarthy, tells the story of an unemployed oil rig worker (Damon) who sets out to prove his daughter’s (Abigail Breslin) innocence when she is accused and convicted of murdering her friend and partner, Lina. While the ads for this film have mostly focused on Damon’s performance, when I looked up the film, I saw that it is considered to be “loosely based on the story of Amanda Knox.”
In Italy in 2007, 20-year-old American exchange student Amanda Knox was accused of murdering her roommate, Meredith Kercher (also an exchange student). The press demonized Knox, accusing her of being oversexed and claiming that she and Meredith were in conflict because of all the sex Knox was having. She was labeled “Foxy Knoxy” by some in the British press, and due to bad policing, the lack of a good translator, and a rush to judgment, Knox was convicted of murdering Kercher.
Eventually, she was released after almost four years and then, in 2015, was definitively acquitted by the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation. The murderer, Rudy Guede, had DNA evidence connecting him to the crime and said that Knox had nothing to do with the case.
Despite that, Knox’s name has become the one most people remember. Her reputation and actions have been permanently tied to the case. Despite being found innocent and the right killer caught, people still feel the need to bring up that she is “unlikable,” as if that means anything.
Many have continued to use the case and the murder of Meredith Kercher to sell stories. Stillwater is not an exception, but it is part of a larger problem that Knox chose to address.
Does my name belong to me? My face? What about my life? My story? Why does my name refer to events I had no hand in? I return to these questions because others continue to profit off my name, face, & story without my consent. Most recently, the film #STILLWATER.
/ a thread
— Amanda Knox (@amandaknox) July 29, 2021
Her Twitter thread on the subject is long, but I think everything Amanda Knox says is powerful and to the point.
“This new film by director Tom McCarthy, starring Matt Damon, is ‘loosely based’ or ‘directly inspired by’ the ‘Amanda Knox saga,’ as Vanity Fair put it in a for-profit article promoting a for-profit film, neither of which I am affiliated with,” Knox says in a tweet.
I want to pause right here on that phrase: “the Amanda Knox saga.” What does that refer to? Does it refer to anything I did? No. It refers to the events that resulted from the murder of Meredith Kercher by a burglar named Rudy Guede. It refers to the shoddy police work, prosecutorial tunnel vision, and refusal to admit their mistakes that led the Italian authorities to wrongfully convict me, twice. In those four years of wrongful imprisonment and 8 years of trial, I had near-zero agency.
Everyone else in that “saga” had more influence over events than I did. The erroneous focus on me by the authorities led to an erroneous focus on me by the press, which shaped how I was viewed. In prison, I had no control over my public image, no voice in my story. This focus on me led many to complain that Meredith had been forgotten. But of course, who did they blame for that? Not the Italian authorities. Not the press. Me! Somehow it was my fault that the police and media focused on me at Meredith’s expense. The result of this is that 15 years later, my name is the name associated with this tragic series of events, of which I had zero impact on. Meredith’s name is often left out, as is Rudy Guede’s. When he was released from prison recently, this was the NY Post headline.
She shares the headline from the New York Post that refers to Meredith Kercher as “Amanda Knox’s roommate,” leaving out her name and the name of the man who actually killed Kercher.
In the wake of #metoo, more people are coming to understand how power dynamics shape a story. Who had the power in the relationship between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky? The president or the intern? It matters what you call a thing. Calling that event the “Lewinsky Scandal” fails to acknowledge the vast power differential, & I’m glad that more people are now referring to it as “the Clinton Affair” which names it after the person with the most agency in that series of events. I would love nothing more than for people to refer to the events in Perugia as “The murder of Meredith Kercher by Rudy Guede,” which would place me as the peripheral figure I should have been, the innocent roommate. But I know that my wrongful conviction, and subsequent trials, became the story that people obsessed over. I know they’re going to call it the “Amanda Knox saga” into the future. That being the case, I have a few small requests:
Knox then says that people should stop blaming her for being the focus of the public narrative considering she did not make herself one, and instead refocus the story on Meredith; do not refer to her as a convicted murderer while conveniently leaving out her acquittal, as she points out a Deadline writer did; and if people are going to call it the “Amanda Knox saga,” don’t call it “the sordid Amanda Knox saga.”
As she put it: “Not a great adjective to have placed next to your name. Repeat something often enough, and people believe it,” which is illustrated by how Stillwater chooses to fictionalize what happened:
McCarthy told Vanity Fair that “Stillwater’s ending was inspired not by the outcome of Knox’s case, but by the demands of the script he and his collaborators had created.” Cool, so I wonder, is the character based on me actually innocent?
Turns out, she asked the killer to help her get rid of her roommate. She didn’t mean for him to kill her, but her request indirectly led to the murder. How do you think that impacts my reputation?
I would encourage you to read the full thread or Medium post because Amanda Knox has been very powerful at putting her voice out there, even as people continuously attempt to turn vague things like “likability” into indicators of guilt of innocence. I was looking at a thread about this topic and saw so much misinformation and projection onto Knox and how she should or should not have acted or felt, when the reality is that, regardless of how she acted or who she kissed, the core reality is that she had nothing to do with the murder of Meredith Kercher.
At this point, I think she has the right to be angry at people continuing to use her name to drag her through the mud and make up scenarios while attaching her name to it for “based on a true story” cred.
(image: Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)
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