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No end to Knox as pop culture obsession

By Ashley Fantz, CNN
updated 10:30 AM EDT, Tue October 4, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Knox's conviction is overturned; obsession with her bound to continue
  • Movie deals, including a possible film with Colin Firth, are reportedly in the works
  • If Knox is freed, the race will be on among news outlets for first Amanda Knox interview

Cheers and jeers as an Italian jury has overturned Amanda Knox's murder conviction. Anderson Cooper gets worldwide reaction and has more on when she'll be able to return to the U.S. at 8 ET tonight on "AC360ยบ"

(CNN) -- Sex. Witch. She-devil.

Those are the sensational words that have captured mainstream headlines in the United States, Great Britain and Italy during the Amanda Knox saga. On Monday, the buzz phrase was "judgment day." Would the flaxen-haired, photogenic American student, convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering her British housemate Meredith Kercher in 2009, be released? Would her conviction be overturned?

At about 3:50 p.m. ET, Knox was freed.

Authorities quickly hustled her out of the courtroom and to the prison where she could collect her things.

Italian jury clears Amanda Knox of murder

The Knox case was a pop culture obsession, and that's not going to stop now that the jury has decided to set her free. The race will be on for which media outlet interviews her first. More than 410 journalists had credentials to be at the courthouse in the tiny Umbrian hillside village of Perugia.

Kercher family: Victim forgotten
Knox makes emotional appeal in Italy
Media 'scrum' for Knox trial
Amanda Knox: 'I'm paying with my life'

Meanwhile, movie deals are in the works. Noted director Michael Winterbottom is interested in making a movie about Knox, with Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth starring as a journalist covering the trial, the Guardian reports.

Tourism in Perugia apparently hasn't benefited from the notoriety, according to Italy's La Stampa newspaper. Several residents say they'd rather their village go back to being famous for its chocolate.

On Monday, Knox's name didn't fall out of the top five trending topics on Google, a remarkable feat for today's constantly changing news cycle. Many media outlets including CNN.com are live blogging Monday, but it's impossible to keep up with specific posters on Twitter. It's better to try to get the plethora of individual tweets aggregated at http://www.twittbox.com/tag/amanda. For those who want more attention on Kercher, a roundup of tweets can be found searching the site's grid for her last name.

BradSmith132 tweeted Monday afternoon, "family: 'Meredith has been forgotten..." 'and posted a link to the press conference in which Kercher's sister Stephanie told reporters: "I think Meredith has been hugely forgotten in all of this."

It is social media, after all, which helped form the image of Amanda Knox as both an innocent American college student and a murdering temptress.

In 2007, images on Knox's Facebook page were taken by media in the United States, Great Britain and elsewhere and used in stories. A private video which was posted on YouTube showing Knox laughing suddenly had a sinister feel, stories about the case note. The nickname Foxy Knoxy didn't come from the press; it was given to Knox by her schoolmates and was an innocent gesture made long before Kercher's death. But "Foxy Knoxy" repeated on the Web and in news stories, took on another meaning. It quickly began to feel synonymous with cunning and deception, with sexist overtones.

In the past few years, many books have been written about Knox, including one titled "Angel Face." The latest book is "The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox" by Nina Burleigh, who appeared Monday on CNN, to discuss the book.

Before the ruling, Burleigh told CNN's Randi Kaye that she would be "pretty surprised" if Knox didn't go free because "there isn't very much evidence" in the case against her.

Kaye asked Burleigh if Italian prosecutors had conducted a "witch hunt" in convicting Knox.

Burleigh answered that the Italian police investigating Kercher's murder made mistakes and that heavy media attention after Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who was also convicted, made it hard for the police to admit their mistakes and put their investigation back on a fair and correct path.

The reason Knox was falsely convicted, Burleigh suggests, is because Knox is attractive.

Everyone, Burleigh said, was "riveted" on "this woman's face" and not the facts of the crime or the case.

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