Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 08/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Licensed to Kill"
Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride
"Licensed to Kill" is a documentary by Arthur Dong which looks at high profile murders and their causes. Dong, himself, was attacked by gay bashers in 1997 and this is what gave him the impetus to create such a film. He probes the minds and the hearts of murderers who have been convicted of killing gay men and directly asks them why they ddid it. Looking at several types of killers including a young man who claims that he did it as protection against sexual advances, a self-hating religious gay man who killed because of his own tendencies, a victim of child abuse who was afraid of male rape, an army sergeant who was angry of the gays in the military policy and a self-described home boy, we get a look into the minds of those who want to see us dead.
Dong has done a lot of research of anti-gay hate crime murders and won 2 Sundance Film Awards with this documentary. He goes behind media headlines by examining the murderers themselves. Some felt that they had been licensed to kill by G-d while others claim that they had been sexually abused as children.
When asking the killers why they did it there were several answers that Dong got but the most popular, not surprising, reason was that "God told me to". Protection from gays and sexual abuse and the fact that someone was easy prey are other reasons given but the most ridiculous and outlandish of all is "I don't want gays in the military".
This is a scary and insightful film in that the murderers actually believe their own foolish propaganda. Looking at these men up close and personal makes for intense viewing. Some showed no remorse whatsoever while others felt completely disconnected from their crime. Most of them hate homosexuals and this they claim gives them license to kill. The movie made me reconsider the Christain right and other conservative organizations whose words of hatred against gays has helped to soothe the consciences of these murderers.
The interviews are fascinating and Dong details the nature of the offenses and probes the motivations of the crimes. Some descriptions are horrific. It is the complete lack of remorse and empathy for their victims that makes these movie so spellbinding. The theme of the title "Licensed to Kill" is well dealt with as the various murderers say that they believed that it was okay to kill gay men. It also shows just how deeply anti-gay sentiment is in this country and how thankful we should be that this has finally begun to change