Amanda Knox was innocent of the grisly murder for which she did time in an Italian jail. There was no DNA link suggesting that the student from Seattle had slit the throat of her English roommate. Other evidence at the crime scene had been contaminated.
Yet to the angry locals, it mattered not whether Knox had just been convicted or vindicated, both of which happened. They stood outside the Perugia courthouse yelling “shame” and “murderer” every time a dark van rushed Knox away. They clearly hated her guts.
A new Netflix documentary on this 9-year-old case, “Amanda Knox,” shows why. It deftly balances the miscarriage of justice with the American’s in-your-face contempt for Italian sensibilities.
Knox comes off as a type, the American who seems to regard other countries as amusement parks for their adventures. She’s not the only example here but certainly the most bizarre one.
From the moment British student Meredith Kercher’s brutalized body is found, Knox seems to take little interest in or even notice of the tragedy. It’s an inconvenience to her fun agenda.
We see the Italian police carrying the body bag out of the house. News cameras start flashing, and an official shouts to the media: “As a courtesy, please stop! Have some dignity!”
Then we see a blank-faced Knox standing nearby, smooching ostentatiously with her boyfriend.
At the police station, Knox throws the F-word around at authorities. In an exhibitionist display, she does cartwheels and stretching.
Italians thought she was crazy, evil or both. Crashing insensitivity is somewhat foreign to them.
“In Seattle, I was cute,” Knox tells the filmmakers. “In Italy, I was the beautiful blond American girl.” Italians, it turned out, were not quite so awed as she thought.
During the recent Rio Olympics, Americans swelled with pride at the performance of their athletes. But then a handful of their champion swimmers deflated the good feeling with their disgraceful behavior in the host country.
The details: Ryan Lochte had drunkenly vandalized a gas station bathroom as he and friends were returning from a party. They could have just apologized, having already paid to fix the damage, but no. Lochte and his three teammates cooked up phony stories about being held up at gunpoint. Lochte said the robbers wore police badges.
To beat the rap on their own minor criminality, the Americans were willing to exploit Brazil’s painful reputation for violent crime. Brazilians were enraged.
The last example involves no crime, just an obnoxious presumption of American superiority. Jonathon Dunne, a Coloradan, has been badgering London subway riders to talk to one another. Chatting up strangers is not the local custom in the Underground. Londoners generally regard their time in the Tube as “sacred space,” a British etiquette expert explained to media.
Nonetheless, Dunne stands outside subway stations handing out badges with the words “Tube chat?” Far worse, he’s at Covent Garden with a bullhorn barking, “It is time to make London the friendliest city in the world.”
Dunne acknowledges that many of the people he confronts with his pushy camaraderie are not amused. But, he told The Wall Street Journal, “I’m expecting to change the culture of London.”
Those are high expectations for … exactly who is this guy? What would happen if a foreigner stood in Dunne’s hometown of Durango and harangued passers-by not to talk so loudly? I’d hate to think.
What’s going on here? Rampant narcissism? Immaturity? Arrogance? There may be some or all of that. Let’s just say it’s doubtful that these individuals would have tried the same stunts back home in America. And if that’s the case, their behavior is not naive innocence but plain ugly.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at email@example.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.