“It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.”
That haunting line was made famous by the serial killer, Buffalo Bill. Not the historic character credited with the serial murder of tens of thousands of gregarious and benign bison, including 4,120 in one eighteen month period alone. No, it was uttered by the other famous (though in this case, make believe) multiple murderer of the same name: the nemesis in the story, The Silence of the Lambs.
Like his namesake, the old west bison slayer (forever immortalized with towns named after him and museums devoted to his memory), the fictional “Buffalo Bill” made a habit of objectifying his victims, using the pronoun “it” to depersonalize them in order to avoid any stirrings of conscience that might drift by. Both Buffalo Bills thought those they killed were beneath them and therefore unworthy of their concern.
The fictitious “Bill” was modeled in part after the real-life serial killer, Ed Gein, who, like most sport hunters, made trophies and souvenirs from his victims’ bones and skin.
It seems whether their victims are human or non-human animals, objectification and depersonalization play major roles in the psyches of hunters and/or serial killers.