Decades of Deceit Infotainment Analysis

After watching to infotainment called decades of deceit i realized how many visual details and how the producer frames the narrative effects how people interpret the crime. First, I will give you a brief description of what happened in the film.

A woman named Amy Weidner was murdered at age 16 on November 18, 1989 in her home. She was home with her child Emily. A man broke into the house to steal a radio and did not know Amy was in the house. He immediately hit her on the head. He then raped and strangled Amy to her death.

The order of events creates a certain framework for the show.

The show starts out with interviews with Amy's daughter Emily, and her mother Gloria. They start by giving information about what kind of a person Amy was. They always said very positive things about Amy. They had home video footage of Amy interacting with her daughter and friends like shown below in the picture.

All of the perspectives were from Amy's daughter, friends, brother, sisters, mother, and even a high school teacher.

The producers had to create a frame from multiple perspectives of people to get a true story of who Amy was. Multiple people telling the viewer the same characteristics about Amy create a sense of honesty and helped the viewer believe that what they are saying is true.

All of the people had different emotions when being interviewed. This created a sense of sadness to the viewer and made them feel bad. Amy's French teacher cried multiple times throughout the interview. Below is a picture of her doing so.

This created a lot of emotion for the viewer. It showed that Amy had many people who really cared about her. This made Amy seem like a great person. I am not saying she was not a good person but through the framework of telling the story, the producer wanted to get the point across that Amy was a good person and did not deserve this.

Another person who was interviewed was Amy's daughter Emily. This was an interesting interview because Emily was very serious. She never cried or had any sad emotion. This is understandable though because Emily does not remember her mother. She does not remember the day her mother was murdered. She does not remember anything about her mother other than what people have told her and home video footage. Amy's mother Gloria raised Emily her whole life and that is whom Emily sees as her "mother." Pictured below is a snapshot during Emily's interview and you can tell that she is serious and just telling the story.

Emily definitely had an interesting perspective because she does not remember anything about her mother or about that day. All her perspective is based off what people have told her.

The framework of this story is created from the point of view on Amy's side. Therefore, they just tell you how wonderful of a person Amy is and how she did not deserve this.

Throughout the show, they kept having the same picture of Amy show up on the screen. This picture is below.

This picture makes Amy look like a very beautiful young woman. She appears to be very happy in this picture. This picture supports the framework built because that is exactly what everyone said Amy was.

All of the people involved in telling Amy's story was shown in an interview just like how Amy's daughter and teacher are pictured below. The police officers were pictured that way too. There was live footage of areas around town where Amy lived. For example, like the picture below of Amy's home.

I think when they show footage of real things around the event it really brings a realness to the narrative. This shows the viewer that Amy really was a real person just like you and me. She lived in a normal home a street with neighbors. This shows the viewer how similar Amy is to the viewer and that this can happen to anyone. This makes a huge difference in telling the story because shows that this is real and this did happen.

Once the story of Amy has been revealed they start showing more of the investigation side of the story. They do not find a suspect right away. They interviewed many people and everyone came up clean. This case turned into a cold case.

An investigator then many years later started looking into the case again. He started interviewing old neighbors and friends and found a person who could be a suspect. Throughout this whole process, they show very professional interviews of the police and law enforcement. They also show pictures of the police working like shown below.

This picture above shows the police working on duty and creates a sense that this man was not going to give up. This was a very positive outlook on the law enforcement because it showed that this man was interested and cared about figuring this out. He studied Facebook pages and everything and eventually came to suspect after an interview.

Twenty-two years later, they finally find who the killer was and the family was in shock. The man’s name was Rodney Denk. He was a friend of Amy and Amy's brother. It was a robbery gone wrong. They kept showing a picture of Rodney in the film like the one pictured below.

Now when looking at this picture and comparing it to the one of Amy there is definitely a difference. This has to do with the framework of the show. They made Amy look like such a young and beautiful person and then the picture of the killer is very angry and rough looking. This is the way the narrative wants you to perceive these people. This would be totally different if in Amy's picture she was angry and in Rodney’s picture he was smiling. That would just not even make sense to the viewer. This shows you how the producer really creates the reality of the story. This is semiotic. These pictures create ideas and emotions about each of these people and they are very different.

One thing I found very interesting about this film was at the end when they were interviewing Denk in the hospital. There is an image of this below.

It’s interesting because when I see these videos it almost makes the viewer feel sorrow for this man. This is interesting because usually infotainments like this do not make the murderer look good at all. At the end, Denk seemed like an honest man and he did not seem to have any guilt of what he did. He was very neutral throughout all the interviews and claimed he did not really remember anything that happened that day. I found that very interesting because I feel like an event like that you could remember almost every detail of what happened.

The man ended up receiving 65 years in prison for the rape and murder of Amy Weidner.

I feel like throughout this infotainment the framework the "real" story was very important in how we interpreted the story. If they would have started the show saying how Amy and Denk used to hang out and how he was really good friends with her brother, then we would have interpreted this a lot differently. If they would have mentioned his name at all in the beginning of the show, it could be interpreted totally different.

This shows how important framework is. It was important to the story that they start out by saying how good of a person Amy was. Really telling the story from her side of the family’s perspective changed the outlook on the story. What if Denk's parents would had been interviewed talking about Amy and how great of a person she was. That would have changed the outlook on the Denk was as a person. The fact that he was a friend and did not intend to kill her they could have made the story seem completely different.

This shows the importance of framework and how certain angles or interpretations of the event change how the viewer sees the story.

This narrative communicates an interesting look at crime. They do not focus on the killer much and how what he did was bad. It did make a difference that it had happened such a long time ago though. It showed that the legal system and law enforcement are good. It showed that there was a man in law enforcement who was determined to figure out this case. It showed that Denk did receive the justice he deserved after the crime he committed. The one thing that was unclear was if anyone else was involved in the crime. That is something they will never know unless Denk reveals it. At the end of the film, Denk could not remember and claimed he did this alone.

Overall, this film was interesting to analyze and it really shows the importance of how visual images have an impact on how people interpret the information.


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