Life

Lorena is going to be your new true-crime obsession

Posted by
Hannah-Rose Yee
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This Amazon Prime docuseries investigates the headline-grabbing case of the marriage of John Wayne and Lorena Bobbitt in the early nineties. 

It was just over 25 years ago, in the very early hours of the morning, that Lorena Bobbitt, 24, severed her 26-year-old husband John Wayne’s penis with a kitchen knife as he slept.

Clutching the penis, she drove 30 miles from their house before disposing of the member outside a convenience store from the window of her car. Later, she called 911 and was arrested that evening on the charge of malicious wounding.

The ensuing case gripped the US and is now the subject of a four part docuseries called Lorena featuring a brand new interview with Bobbitt herself. Executive-produced by Get Out director Jordan Peele, it will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month before dropping onto Amazon Prime in its entirety on February 15. (Bobbitt was ultimately found not guilty on the grounds of temporary insanity.) 

It’s no surprise that Lorena Bobbitt’s trial proved so fascinating in the early nineties. Bobbitt and Wayne were a young, beautiful couple living in relatively recent marital bliss. How did it all go so wrong? Bobbitt accused Wayne of systemic domestic and emotional abuse, and a large part of her defence drew on the idea that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. (Wayne denied the allegations). She said that, before she cut off his penis, Wayne had raped her. (Wayne denied this and was acquitted of the rape.)

What Lorena highlights is how this trial was one of the first in the American legal system to really call into question what constitutes marital abuse. Bobbitt alleged that Wayne forced her to have anal sex, that he made her have an abortion, that he kept her money from her and threatened her with deportation to her native Venezuela. Again, Wayne denied all of these allegations.

But fuelled by a voracious 24-hour tabloid news cycle the scandal became mired in sensationalist rhetoric, mostly about severed penises and the like, and thus missed the opportunity to interrogate how insidious abuse can be. 

Lorena Bobbitt in an interview in Amazon Prime’s Lorena

As a docuseries, Lorena hopes to reinvestigate how the trial had all the trappings of a proto-MeToo case, and the ways in which the headline-grabbing elements of the crime overshadowed what Bobbitt had to say about abuse.

If you found yourself binge-watching The Staircase or Making a Murderer, we think you’re going to love this docuseries. Mark February 15 in your calendar now. 

Lorena will stream on Amazon Prime from February 15. 

Images: Getty, Amazon Prime

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer, podcaster and recent Australian transplant in London. You can find her on the internet talking about pop culture, food and travel. Follow her on Twitter

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