What Today’s Monster News Tells Us About Today’s New Yorkers

Photo: Newsday/Alanna Nevitski

In Queens in 1964, a woman named Kitty Genovese was stabbed in front of her house. She screamed, the neighbors heard her, but no one helped. The killer had time to leave, twice, before coming back to finally kill her, because it took the neighbors almost an hour to call the police.

What does this have to do with the Monster of Montauk? Well.

Suppose the Monster is not actually a monster, but an earthly creature. A dog, perhaps. Suppose the original photo (above) Gawker and Daily Intel ran is real, and the photo Newsday ran today (inset) is real, and that they are of the same beast as the photographers claim. We’re no scientists — far from it — but the difference between the two pictures, the amount of decomposition that occurred between pictures, suggests that the creature lay on the beach not for an afternoon, as Newsday says, but for quite some time, and that although several people came and photographed it, no one alerted any authorities to take it away. In the interim, the people who took the pictures showed their photos to other people, who also did not call anyone to take it away. They didn’t even say, “Is anyone here a marine biologist?”

Back in the sixties, psychologists dubbed the tendency for people to walk away from a horror, expecting that someone better equipped would come to take care of it, “bystander effect,” or “Kitty Genovese syndrome,” after the case that came to symbolize New Yorkers’ — and Americans’ — apathy about getting “involved.” “The case touched on a fundamental issue of the human condition, our primordial nightmare,” legendary City University of New York psychology professor Stanley Milgram said at a conference on “Bad Samaritanism” in 1984. “If we need help, will those around us stand around and let us be destroyed or will they come to our aid? Are those other creatures out there to help us sustain our life and values, or are we individual flecks of dust just floating around in a vacuum?”

In June of this year, when a woman called Esmin Green collapsed on the floor of Brooklyn Hospital and died, lying there for over an hour in full view of other patients and a security guard, it proved that nearly half a century after the Kitty Genovese murder—even after 9/11—eNew Yorkers still have a problem with empathy. And in a weird way — a very weird way, we grant you — these two photos of the Montauk Monster prove it, too. That monster screamed into the night; and no one came to his aid. All we are is dust in the wind.

Ahem. So have a great weekend, everyone! And rest in peace, little guy, wherever (and whatever!) you are.

Related: Investigating the Montauk Monster[NYM]
East Hampton Bureaucrats Deny Montauk Monster Is Beast From Hell [NYM]
Montauk Monster Mania! [NYM]
A Portrait of the Monster as a Young Man [NYM]

What Today’s Monster News Tells Us About Today’s New Yorkers