Creepy Costumes and a Cat Named ‘Screams’: An Instagram Window on the Weird World of Amanda Knox

Convicted and acquitted of murdering her roommate, Amanda Knox has just opened her Instagram account to the public. Here’s why that probably wasn’t such a good idea.

ROME—It has been nearly 10 years since Seattle college student Amanda Knox made global headlines when she was arrested for the murder of her British roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, in November 2007. Her case is still highly divisive, with a sharp line drawn between those who feel she is truly innocent and those who don’t.

After her arrest, she spent the next several years being batted around Italy’s tedious court system, first convicted, then acquitted, then convicted again, before she was acquitted definitively of Kercher’s murder in 2015. Her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was also convicted and acquitted right along with her. A third accomplice, Rudy Guede is serving out the end of a 16 year sentence as the lone convicted murderer.

Since Knox has been free, she has written a book, become a noteworthy journalist for the West Seattle Herald, and started dating, including a hook-up with a ghosthunter for a little while.

A top-rated Netflix documentary bearing her name gave her a chance to tell her own side of the story. In 2016, she won an important appeal with the European Court of Human Rights to oversee her remaining slander case, for which she remains convicted, for originally pinning the murder on her Congolese bar owner boss Patrick Lumumba. She claims to have fingered him under duress and abuse by Perugia cops.

She even stood up to President Donald Trump in an op-ed in which she said she didn’t owe him loyalty for his financial support of her innocence defense fund. Trump had said he was “deeply upset” that she voted for Hillary Clinton. Knox wrote a smart piece on why she didn’t feel obliged to support him just because he supported her.

“The message was clear: Trump defended me in the past; how dare I not defend him now? Never mind that Trump doesn’t share my values. If I won’t endorse him, at the very least I should keep my ‘left-wing lunacies’ to myself,” she wrote in the Los Angeles Times. “This conviction is both undemocratic and dangerous. Just as a person’s support of me should not be based upon my politics or identity, hinging instead on the fact of my innocence, so should my politics hinge on the merits of policy, not personal loyalty.”

For all intents and purposes, Knox was well on the road to a creating a public persona that could have lifted her out of the shadows and away from the murky enigma many people see in her to a normal person who has been through some trying times.

But then she made her Instagram account public in the usual way, by tweeting about it. “What's happening? Well, I made my Instagram public. No more hoarding all my amazing cat videos.”

Boyfriend shots and cat videos aside—including many that she’s taken of her peculiarly named cat, “Screams”—some of the images on her account are curious at best. There are those, for instance, that depict her as Little Red Riding Hood in the Black Forest in Germany with her boyfriend dressed as the Big Bad Wolf ready to pounce on her. At face value she is surely depicting herself an innocent girl in the dark woods, likely how she thought of herself when she lived in Perugia.

But it doesn’t take a scholar, or even much of a Google user, to know that Little Red Riding Hood is considered by Freud and a string of other psychoanalysts as a symbolic figure of sexual repression, abduction, and rape fantasies. A strange costume choice for a woman who once faced charges of murder and sexual assault.

The rest of her photos show her on European vacations to Paris and Berlin, and stopping at La Pointe Du Hoc to view the massive divots from D-Day bombings. There are shots of her getting tattoos, including one that matches her boyfriend’s, and yes, there are cats galore.

Some of the photos are poignant and intimate, like one of her as an “awkward Greek goddess” and another of her wearing an owl mask with the caption, “Sometimes, to get your creative juices flowing, you have to write at the kitchen table while wearing an owl mask.”

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Another shows her in a black t-shirt with an image of handcuffs and the legend “It could happen to you” written in white, clearly a nod to the work she does to support wrongly accused prisoners.

By opening up her Instagram account to the public and then announcing it to her 20,000 Twitter followers (not all of whom support her innocence) she surely knew, and in fact is inviting, this sort of scrutiny of her posts.

This is a woman who spent the better part of a decade as a tabloid darling whose lack of restraint inside and outside the courtroom sometimes lead her straight into trouble. Why now, when she is on the road to a mature, normal life, would she open herself up to criticism and public debate about her behavior once again? Is it a cry for attention or a cry for help? Or both?