If You Don't Like Your Reflection
There is a core principal in my Coptic faith that states that we, as humans, fashioned from the same organic chemical compounds as dirt and water, were stitched together in our mother’s wombs by the Original Artist, created with purpose, and named and known before our existence. Our purpose exists before we do, innate, not created, but also not destined. This leaves us with a choice, to find a purpose that was intended to be etched into our eternity for reasons greater than our own happiness, or make ourselves with our own hands and follow the way we feel.
The second statement pushed so often in our society, everywhere from the Western media to our school system, is based on the consistent, pervasive American platitude, Be You.
Live life the way you want to live it. Grow into the man or woman you choose to be. Follow your heart.
But the heart is irrational. The heart feels without thought, and often the only purpose for following one’s feelings would be immediate gratification (see almost all weddings to a sweet-talking Cuban looking for a visa).
The sad truth, though most people who choose to tread their own path based on their emotions live average, benign lives no different than everyone else, there have been more than a few men in history who followed their passions to the handle of a knife. There have been men who gained influence for their hatred of people perceived as different from them, and had success of stirring up the passion of likeminded others, Hitler being the most obvious example.
Luka Rocco Magnotta is another example, albeit an extreme one, of the possible negative aspects of following your passions.
Dubbed by the media as “the Cannibal Pornstar,” he worked as a male model and escort, and shot several adult videos before he gained notoriety for a snuff film he made where he strapped his lover, a slim male international Concordia University student named Lin Jun, to a bed frame where he stabbed him repeatedly with a screwdriver and kitchen knife, dismembered his body, engaged in acts of necrophilia with his corps, let a dog chew on his flesh and possibly took a few bites himself. But it’s not what he’s infamous for that I want to focus on. More importantly are the lesser known facts of his life that may have led up to his actions.
He was born Eric Newman on July 24, 1982. He went through many different aliases before deciding on and legally changing his name to Luka Magnotta in his adult life.
Magnotta was auditioned and interviewed for a reality TV show called “Plastic Makes Perfect” on Slice TV Canada in the early 2000s. He was asked of his profession, a male model and adult film star, and if he’d had any procedures done in the past. According to Magnotta, he had three hair transplants and a nose job in order to feel more comfortable in front of the camera. He told the producer who interviewed him he wanted to get implants in his pecs and arms for a more optimal appearance. Image and perception was his obsession. He molded himself to the proportions he was told were beautiful.
Moving back to his snuff film, he fashioned his murder after the movie Basic Instinct, painting his black screwdriver silver to look like the icepick Sharon Stone used in the movie to murder one of her lovers (just as he murdered his own.)
Magnotta escaped to Europe right after the murder, where he used the name Kirk Trammel as an alibi to get around. Sharon Stone’s character in Basic Instinct was named Catherine Trammel. Not surprisingly, Magnotta’s computer login name was Catherine.
After Magnotta was captured and charged for the murder of Lin Jun, he told one of the psychiatrists who interviewed him that the voice of a man named Manny told him to murder Lin Jun. Manny Vasquez was the name of Catherine Trammel’s fiancé in Basic Instinct.
Magnotta’s claim of hearing voices was assumed to be a lie by the jury and he was convicted on multiple counts to life imprisonment.
These points paint a picture of a serial liar obsessed with his image. He built his aesthetic, following Western dictates of beauty, under the sharp end of a knife. A name like Eric Newman was too normal for a man with his level of synthesized beauty, so he changed it to fit his new aesthetic. Even his murder was fashioned after another, glamourized by the big screen to be sadistic enough to be interesting, and sexy enough to sell. The man was a caricature of the darkest, most plastic side of Hollywood.
The police searched his Montreal home after he’d fled to Europe. They found an almost empty apartment covered in patches of dry blood. They also found a few lines of red writing in Magnotta’s old closet.
If you don’t like the reflection. Don’t look in the mirror. I don’t care
The man hated himself. The plastic surgery and the chase of perfection couldn’t disguise the truth, he was a hideous human being. The pain of imperfection and the need to create himself into a man relevant to society turned him into a bad hydrocarbon copy of cellophane, a moving picture in 3D, scripted and stunted by the borrowed prototypical mind of a sadomasochistic murderer. His words were so obvious a lie, so obvious that they meant the exact opposite of their substance, that they become almost honest, somewhat poetic in their poorly hidden truth. They revealed a slave to the perception of others, and his attempted act of creating himself worked to turn himself into an aesthetic clone of Hollywood beauty.
Admittedly, Luka Magnotta is an extreme example of self-creation, a man molded on the worst prototype of past men. As I stated above, most people who choose the passions of their heart end up living average lives, children, house, with enough disposable income to survive. But how much of our dreams and passions are based off the ideals of our media? How often do we wish we were taller, slimmer, stronger, more chiseled? How often do we wish our nose wasn’t so crooked, our face wasn’t so round? All your acquaintances are married, but you aren’t. Your high school friend’s been out of university for as long as you have, but he’s making twice the salary and owns his own condo. Your other friend made it into medical school, but you have to try again next year.
Much of our dreams form the person we choose to be, and the person we become. Like Magnotta (to the smallest degree), many of us form our ideal selves around comparisons and the perception of others. The idea of Be You, when based on our passions, can often lead us to converge our lives with the ideal of society as a whole, ironically leading us to become like everyone else. And yes, aside from homicide, necrophilia, and pornstar status (forgive the huge asides), I am implying that otherwise, Luka Magnotta was an extreme example of what often happens when we live a life dedicated solely to the wants of our heart. This takes away from our uniqueness.
But before you were born, you were known. You were created with reason and purpose, innate within you. You can choose to create purpose for yourself, which I believe does lead to the borrowing from a list of possible prototypes implied by greater society. You can shape and mold your face and your body to the proportions you were sold as perfect. Or, you can accept your DNA, distinct from the seven billion other humans on this planet, and search and question and demand your meaning and purpose from the One who formed you, the Original Artist, who knew you before he knit you in your mother’s womb, and understood why you were created, separate from the other seven billion.
Be You creates clones. Be who you were made to be.