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The parole hearing for Leslie van Houten is being televised on Court TV right now -- fascinating stuff. I often ponder why it is that, as a culture, we are still so fascinated by these killings. I would guess that there are several reasons why these murders still have such powerful cultural symbolism?
1) Historically, it was one of several stabs in the heart of the "love generation" along with Altamont and other such events. 2) The social-dynamics of The Family foreshadowed the cult-movements of the seventies. 3) The inclusion of Sharon Tate, as a victim, had a profound impact on Hollywood, and the celebrity culture, at a time when a McLuhanesque media culture was just beginning to flex its postmodern muscles. 4) They were particularly gruesome and symbolic murders, which were tailor-made for mass-media coverage. 5) The complex and convoluted nature of the Helter Skelter theory of motive, is still enigmatic and open to much further analysis and speculation. This motive?s involvement of the Beatles, arguably the most popular musical group at the time, also elevates its cultural validity by association.