Tales of the Grim Sleeper comes at a time when Black people are taking to the streets in protest of police violence in cities across the United States and #BlackLivesMatter has become firmly entrenched in conversations regarding this issue. Black women have been an integral part of organizing, supporting and leading these conversations and yet recognition of the victimization and killing of Black women themselves is often pushed to the margins. Acknowledgment and action around the brutalization and murders of trans, queer and disabled Black women is pushed aside even further.

While state-sanctioned violence is a legitimate and persistent threat, the sad fact is that Black women go missing all the time and are abused and murdered at alarming rates, and although Tales of the Grim Sleeper is made by a white man, it does ask the right questions about whose lives matter and whose lives are given more value in society. The answers lie in the fact that it took a white man making this film for this story to be told on an HBO scale. Although the film is not about police brutality, it does successfully highlight the kind of systemic violence that allowed a serial killer to move freely in a Black community for 25 years, because its members were so marginalized as to not be considered worthy of notification of his presence among them, and because this same marginalization meant that any community members with information regarding the murders were unlikely to report it to police. 

Fatima on HBO’s documentary Tales Of the Grim Sleeper

Follow us: twitter / facebook / soundcloud 


Lonnie Franklin Jr. was arrested in July 2010 after a 25-year-long killing spree in which it is thought he could have killed more than 100 victims, potentially making him the most prolific serial killer in history. Significantly his arrest was not the product of painstaking detective work but completely accidental, the result of a computer DNA match that linked him to a possible 20 victims. Franklin now awaits trial. Tales of the Grim Sleeper looks into how it was possible for all this to happen.


All these topics are covered in Nick Broomfield’s awesome documentary simply called FETISHES. You can watch it here:

I totally agree with the mistresses who believe they’re doing something good for mankind by doing the work they do…

Nick Broomfield is great, he also made the documentaries AILEEN WUORNOS: THE SELLING OF A SERIAL KILLER and AILEEN: LIFE AND DEATH OF A SERIAL KILLER. I was disturbed for weeks, maybe months after watching those and I’m still dying to write an essay about Aileen…I tried to incorporate her story and America’s totally fucked ‘justice system’ into my dissertation at one point but it didn’t work… 


“The difficult stuff for a trendy liberal is contained in ‘Behind the Rent Strike,’ which crudely centres around the anger of tenants on a housing estate outside Liverpool: Tower Hill, Kirkby, 1972-73. A magnificent Liverpudlian lady as good as spits at the interrogating director in the opening instants: 'I’m very sceptical … the working-class position may change, but it won’t change through the media’ (or words to that effect: her nostrils flare stormily as she utters. People were being asked to pay what they thought to be too much for their council flats, someone organised them, they revolted. Mr. Broomfield set out to make a screenable account of their group-action. The 'behind’ of his title is a saver, because he has filmed an extraordinary, irascible series of visits: somehow he and his crew got backstage, Kirkby-side. You can forget the matter of rents and restlessness in favour of a hard look at the local comprehensive school – a headmaster at assembly helping a Bible-seller to dish out his stock to his flock, a senior teacher (enjoying the camera, hands false-nonchalantly in pockets) telling off kids for a playground fight, an articulate cop addressing a class of tinies and ensuring they will despise policemen from here to eternity. There is a sustained circling shot round a factory-floor of women picking chickens to bits. Mr. Broomfield – to put it as moderately as possible – knows that some pictures speak louder than any words. Truth, however selected, may be stranger than fiction, and stronger.”

- John Coleman, New Statesman

Excellent early documentary by Nick Broomfield. This gets me fuckin’ angry every time I watch it. That fuckin bible salesman in the school needs his bibles rammed down his pig throat… . just watched it and I’m fuckin ragin!


Trailer for the upcoming documentary Sarah Palin: You Betcha! (For a related video, click here