Stalkers are often portrayed as dark, scary men, lurking in the shadows behind a tree in the park, or waiting in an alley. Their prey is always a stranger, often someone young and beautiful. (Bahm). Despite the well-publicized and often hyped image of the Stalker the truth of the matter is that most stalkers are known by their victims, and are also of both male and female persuasion. Stalking by definition is “a series of acts directed against a specific person that would make a reasonable person afraid” (Herman).The mythical stalker of print and film is often supported by the news media coverage of stalkers that pursue high profile young actresses and singers, such as those depicted most recently in articles about Lee Ann Womack and Hillary Duff (AP).
These ‘real life’ crimes are sensationalized by print publications like the magazines “True Crime” and “True Detective” in order to profit from a public audience. The adrenaline thrill that many people pay for when they go to see movies such as “Seven,” “Sin City,” and “The Fan” wears off entirely too quickly if the stalker is shown to be someone with a connection to the victim.The squeamishness of the American public sensibility is catered to by the perpetuated myth, and this becomes a danger for those who need to protect themselves. This is clearly outlined in a congressional report about Domestic Violence and general violence against women submitted in April of 1996 by the National Institute of Justice. It is clearly outlined in this report that while the issue of stalking is making mainstream news, the actual nature of stalking is often not understood for what it truly is (DoJ).Until the media and film industries stalkers portray Stalkers as they really are, the myth will continue to plague the real victims, who often fail to recognize that the behavior of their stalkers is illegal. They will continue to see stalkers as strangers, and the victims as being only the beautiful, powerful, rich or famous.
The stalker myth, as the mainstream cinema and print media portray it, is a shameful perpetuation of violence against the unsuspecting and very real victims.