Amanda Knox slams Hollywood’s handling of true-crime films, asking: Where are the ethics?

Amanda Knox is speaking out on behalf of Vili Fualaau, the late Mary Kay Letourneau’s former student and estranged husband, who was offended when his scandal was depicted in “May December” without his involvement.

“It’s the entitlement that really gets me. The feeling that someone else’s life, their mistakes, their trauma, their STORY is just free for the taking because it was in the news,” Knox wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Knox, the American former exchange student who became the focus of a sensationalized Italian murder case, has long been vocal about the ethics of using true-crime stories as source material in entertainment. Her own story was depicted, without her consent, in the 2021 film “Stillwater,” directed by Tom McCarthy and starring Matt Damon and Abigail Breslin.

Knox and her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were first arrested in Perugia, Italy, in 2007 after Meredith Kercher, Knox’s 21-year-old British roommate, was found slain, semi-undressed in a pool of blood with multiple stab wounds. She had also been sexually assaulted. Knox and Sollecito were sentenced in 2009 to 26½ years and 25 years in prison, respectively, but were released after spending four years in prison when the verdict was reversed on appeal in 2011. Knox returned to the United States before a new trial was ordered, then in 2014 returned to Italy, where the two were again found guilty. This time Knox got 28 years.

But in 2015, Italian high court judges overturned the second conviction and definitively acquitted both Knox and Sollecito in the slaying. Another man, Rudy Guede, was ultimately convicted.

Knox penned a think piece for the Atlantic in 2021, after “Stillwater” hit theaters, calling out McCarthy and Damon for making a film without her consent or knowledge. She slammed the pair for using her story and name to promote the film and said they depicted the film’s “Amanda-like” character as guilty. According to Knox, neither McCarthy nor Damon accepted her offer to discuss these “ethically complicated” issues.

“We could all learn something by asking the hard questions about what real life events we’re entitled to turn into content,” she continued Friday in the social media thread. “And by asking who has the most at stake in the telling of a story. By asking what the costs are, and who will bear them. As storytellers we may be legally in the clear to transform others’ lives into content without their consent, whether in a podcast or film, but ethically…”

“These questions arise often with crime stories, which get a legal pass because they’re deemed ‘newsworthy.’”

Knox admitted that she hadn’t yet watched “May December” and would withhold judgment about its merits as a film. “I also am not offering any opinions about Mary Kay Letourneau or Vili Fualaau. However you morally judge them is beside the point.”

“When someone is convicted of a crime, our criminal legal system delivers a punishment,” she wrote. “That punishment does not include giving up one’s ‘life rights’ to the Hollywood ecosystem. It might include a prohibition on [profiting] off that story.”

Knox further argued that even criminals, in her opinion, should be entitled to consult on how they are represented in a biopic. “And don’t forget that in stories like this, even if one person is guilty of a crime, there are many other people wound up in the story who may have done nothing wrong, but whose lives were impacted by the events. Should they not have a say in how they are depicted in a film?”


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