Death Becomes Her
Examining the morbid fascination with the Black Dahlia.
"Sex semaphore is all misogynist subtext," Ellroy writes toward the end of My Dark Places. "All men hate women for tried-and-true reasons they share in jokes and banter every day. Now you know." This is an exaggeration, but Ellroy does come closer to explaining the pervasive and perverse fascination with dead white women—their evocation of men's twisted desire to love, protect, fuck, and kill the women in their lives—than most. Sixty years after Elizabeth Short's mutilated, tortured corpse was discarded by the side of the road, this might be her ultimate legacy.
Seth Mnookin is the author of the New York Times best seller Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts and Nerve Took a Team to the Top and Hard News.
Photograph of Elizabeth Short by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.