How Kai the Hatchet Hitchhiker Proves We Would Embrace a Real Life Dexter


Update: I’ve been hearing about this story for two weeks now, and never once did I figure out that the guy Kai attacked didn’t actually die. I just heard “hatchet to the head,” and drew my own conclusions. I suppose that negates nearly all of what I say here in this post, but feel free to read anyway.

By now many of you have heard about the story of Kai, the hitchhiker made famous on YouTube after an act of heroism. You can watch the famed video here, or I’ll just briefly explain the scenario.

Kai is a homeless (or home-free, as he says) hitchhiker who talks like every stoned surfer you’ve ever imagined times twenty. His laid back life had him catch a ride from a stranger one day who happened to be rather crazy. The man said he was Jesus, and to demonstrate that, rammed his car into the first pedestrian he could find.

Afterward, he jumped out of the car and proceeded to attack two women. Kai thought this was very un-chill of him, so he proceed to run up behind the guy and BEAT HIM TO DEATH WITH A HATCHET.

The local news showed up to interview him, and the rest is history. This was like if Antoine Dodson had shot the guy in the face who trying to rape his sister. A refresher if you don’t get that reference.

Much like everyone, I laughed at Kai’s odd personality and applauded him for stepping in to do what he could. It wasn’t until I saw that Jimmy Kimmel tracked him down and brought him onto  his show for a bizarre interview that I started thinking about the deeper implications of Kai.



They talked about his life philosophy, the incident itself, and how Kai gave away money Kimmel gave him for being at the show. In the end, they wrap up the segment by giving Kai a wetsuit and surfboard, something he wished for during his initial interview.

I’m not  here to talk about Kai as a person. From what I can tell, he’s a fun-loving dude who may or may not be completely insane after years of heavy drug abuse.

Rather, it’s just that this seems like one of the first times that we’re making a national hero out of someone who killed someone else, vigilante style. We applaud those kinds of people who have thrown themselves in front of bullets during horrific mass shootings, but this is something else. This is a guy who is now famous for hacking someone to death with a hatchet. He’s on Jimmy Kimmel.

I’m not saying what Kai did is wrong. It’s the most obvious kind of right. It just got me thinking about how we’ve celebrated fictional vigilantism for so long, that it’s odd when it finally happens in real life. The most obvious example that comes to mind would be a Dexter, a show about a heroic serial killer, which by all accounts, should be an oxymoron.

But it isn’t. Dexter is a killer of killers, which is why the audience has no trouble rooting for him. But his actions are illegal on the show, and he’s constantly in fear of someone finding out his dirty secret.


The way we’re treating Kai, however, indicates we might actually embrace a Dexter-type figure in society at large. Dexter operates in a legal black hole, what he’s doing is obviously illegal, but not a moral one to many who believe in the “eye for an eye” school of justice.

Interestingly, if Dexter went the Kai path, and happened to show up whenever his killers were about to murder someone, he could beat them all to death with a hatchet, and it would be him we’d be interviewing on the local news.

I suppose there are other examples of this is pop culture. Before Dexter there were the Boondock Saints whose famous mantra was “Do not kill, do not rape, do not steal.” Any of the above and you might find the silenced barrel of a pistol pointed at your forehead. Unlike Dexter, they simply went into criminal dens, guns blazing, which is a bit of a riskier move. The movie ends with  the news interviewing citizens on whether or not they think that the Saints are good or evil.


It’s just strange when a concept immortalized in TV and films for so long finally happens in real life. I had flashes of Dexter on Kimmel, talking about his code and knife collection. But the reality? Kimmel and Kai laughing it up, all because of a stoner split a crazy man’s skull open with a hatchet.

“How come nobody’s ever tried to be a superhero?” Kick-Ass asks. With the way Kai is being celebrated, maybe more will start.

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  1. Wanted to mention this sorta documentary from HBO called Superheroes.

    As for a more broad view of vigilantism. You know those stories you see every once in awhile about someone getting killed cause the killer thought they were possessed, an alien, were satan… that is a form of vigilantism too. But it’s clearly subjective. To them, they were doing the right thing. Yes, there are occasions where ordinary people are in the right place and the right time and do things they would never dream of doing and save a life. But the sort of people who seek this sort of thing out are not mentally healthy. The same goes for these people who think they need to be armed 24 hours a day because they have hero fantasies… these are not rational people. Ever played a video game and shot one of the innocent bystanders on accident? Yeah, exactly. And the video game player has the advantage of always knowing who the bad guys are. In the games, and like people tortured in 24, the bad guys are always guilty and dressed like bad guys. When you consider issues affecting perception such as racism for example, Trayvon Martin case, you realize how dangerous these people can be.

    The reason we like Dexter is because the people he kills are always guilty. Jack Bauer never killed or tortured an innocent person. But real life is more complicated because you don’t KNOW for sure who the bad guy is. It’s not until later you realize that gun was a bag of skittles and maybe you have a predilection for being jumpy around people with skin color not like your own.

    Also, I know people will think this is a bit of a stretch but it illustrates the subjectivity of vigilantism. This woman undoubtedly thinks of herself as a bit of a crusader for justice and all that is good. Yet it is precisely because of people like her and the environment they create that all these LGBT teenagers decide to end their lives.

  2. From what I remember of the news report, nobody died during the incident. Kai did not beat the guy to death. I believe if anything he hit him with the back of his hatchet (not the blade).

  3. You could almost just switch the name on the article to Christopher Dorner and it almost holds as true anyway. Every comment section about Dorner seems to be a 50/50 split of opinions back and forth. It says a lot, I think, that the american public is so split. I mean it was politically obvious for quite a while, but I never thought you could get half the population to see someone killing cops and turn them into a hero or martyr to a cause.

  4. i dunno i could see Kai killing people. That being said dexters first season actually does address this in a way. Spoilers for the few on this site who have not seen dexter. At the end of season the last few moments dexter’s voice over talks about how it would feel if he were to be seen as he truly is. Then comes a day dream of crowd of people cheering him on. The last lines go ” yeah they see me. I’m one of them, in their darkest dreams” The show kinda broke the fourth wall with the crowed of people being us, the viewers cheering on and rooting for dexter. Because we are ok with this cause we can justify it , rationalize it possibly see ourselves do it. Dexter calls us out on it though by saying in your darkest dreams your like me. Dexter and possibly Kai are nothing new to the world we just take comfort in that they are not praying on us. To be both a serial killer and vigilantly requires the same detachment from what keeps the rest of us from not killing people. It means the same moral rules that apply to the rest of us dont apply to them.

  5. haha I think Kai has a batman code. But seriously that interview was much less coherent than another one that I saw with him, I wonder what the difference was, this is a guy who can fluently speak three languages besides english, showed interesting insight into life and even claims to have attended a collage for a time.

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