Kitty Genovese & Watchmen

Open Culture recently posted a video clip of the 1980s comic, Watchmen (above). The clip, Watchmen: Origins 13 – ‘Kitty Genovese’, features the case of Kitty Genovese as part of a character’s backstory. The character’s name? Rorschach.

The Genovese case is traditionally presented as the failure 38 neighbours to act while a young woman was murdered in New York City. It has attained mythic proportions in social psychology as an exemplar of the bystander effect and diffusion of responsibility. The veracity of the original report of Kitty Genovese case, in particular the inaction of her neighbours during her murder, was previously questioned in a 2007 American Psychologist article.

The Open Culture post on Kitty Genovese was prompted a recent news story about a teenager who was severely beaten in a Baltimore McDonald’s while employees not only failed to intervene, but videotaped the incidence. The post also points to a NPR interview with Joseph De May on the Genovese case, which may be of interest to AHP readers. (The interview is available as both an audio clip and a transcript.)

AHP‘s previous posts on Kitty Genovese and the bystander effect can be found here, here, here, and here.

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About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Surrey in the UK. She completed her doctorate in the History and Theory of Psychology at York University in 2014.

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