Like it or not, killer part of pop culture

03/27/2012 4:39 PM

03/27/2012 4:39 PM

Wonder how many Wichitans will tune in tonight for "The Hunt for the BTK Killer," the CBS movie filmed in Canada about Wichita's worst serial killer.

Many locals surely think the movie can't possibly tell them anything they don't already know about Dennis Rader, the Park City compliance officer who was caught in February after killing 10 people and eluding cops for 31 years. Another potential reason to stay away: reviews such as the one in Variety saying the "hastily assembled pic proves... curiously flat and uninvolving."

Of course, one lame TV movie won't end fascination in this case, which also has inspired a "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS and numerous episodes of the cable TV true-crime shows.

Then there is the case's emerging impact on pop culture. There was coining of "BTK" as a verb last month on the WB's "The Gilmore Girls," as in "If you see me BTK'd, you'll know why." There was the commercial for new CBS lawyer show "Close to Home" that cast Rader alongside Scott Peterson and the Menendez brothers as killers next door. National radio host Phil Hendrie even did a wicked bit on "BTK clothing," as in big, tall kids.

It's easy to respond to the notoriety with indifference, as in whatever — just as long as they spell Wichita right. This is, after all, a fascinating true story that found its finale at a time of feverish fascination with crime.

What's regrettable is that the pop culture retellings can't help but refresh the pain for Rader's victims and survivors.

One more way in which the story hasn't yet ended concerns BTK's end, of course.

After that great day when Rader draws his last breath, he most certainly should not be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. That's why members of Congress from Idaho to Kansas to Maryland rightly are hurrying to close a loophole that currently would allow the Air Force veteran such a resting place.

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