Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mystified and Miffed

I cannot for the life of me figure out why certain cases capture the media’s attention, and thus the public’s attention, while others do not.

Why aren’t all of the murdered and missing children, and all of the mothers and fathers accused of killing their children, covered by the press? Why isn’t each case newsworthy, a cause in and of itself, a cry for justice? How do the powers that be choose among the murdered and the missing to decide which cases are anointed to celebrity status? Only the chosen few accused or their victims become notorious. For example, the murders of Laci and Connor Peterson, the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, the death of Caylee Anthony, the alleged abduction of Madeleine McCann, became worthy of a nation’s time and attention. And yet other victims go to their silent graves unmarked by a press hell-bent on feeding the public’s voracious appetite for the tragic and the awful.

Does the victim have to be a certain race, economic status, and have a certain “pretty” factor?

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to which cases get chosen and which cases do not, nor does there seem to be any explanation for the public’s fixation over certain cases to the point of national obsession.

I no longer believe the public is following a case to get an up close look into our criminal justice system. Instead, it seems to be more of a voyeuristic feeding frenzy on someone else’s pain, perhaps obviating the need to feel our own. Or perhaps it is a lynch mob mentality that without our system of justice would have people taking to the streets to stone or hang those deemed worthy of loathing. 

I was taken by surprise over the public’s growing fascination with the Casey Anthony case that culminated in an inexplicable fixation. Not only could I not understand the attention this case received, I could not understand why this case, and not another case.

And now that the case is over, the recent offer by Hustler Magazine to pay half a million dollars to an acquitted defendant for a nude photo shoot, is both revolting and baffling. I suppose in our celebrity worshipping culture, it is not surprising that Ms. Anthony would try to cash in on her ill-gotten fame. She has reportedly solicited a million and a half dollars for television interviews. But it is surprising that anyone would actually pay it. I condemn those who would buy Ms. Anthony “story” in order to heap more on an already saturated public.

We have binged enough on Casey Anthony and it is time to stop rewarding her with fortune or even more fame.

I wish that all murdered and missing children receive the same feverish thirst for justice that Caylee Anthony does, and that the public cashes in on their buying power by developing an appetite for the greater good, rather than the lowest common denominator.


Ann Summerville said...

It seems that this case was viewed as another reality television program. It's a shame that people are rewarding Casey Anthony and not closing the door on all the drama and publicity.

Anonymous said...

Casey Anthony deserves every bit of fame and fortune she can gain as a compensation for having been dragged through the justice-machinery by an incompetent prosecution looking for a scape-goat to appease the public.

As far as missing children in general goes, there seems to be a certain "type" that the media will latch on to. The child should be caucasian, look cute on photos and have good looking camera-savvy parents. If you disappear and happen to be an african-american boy with a blue collar socially reclusive mom you are sadly out of luck.

Anonymous79 said...

I totally agree with Anonymous. I would also add wealth or prestigious careers, to the list of necessities to captivate the media.

Anonymous said...

The Anthony case had a cute kid but the fact that what the mother did as to not reporting her child missing is what hooked most people I think. Casey Anthony does not deserve anything. Except maybe to pay back the state of Florida. She killed her daughter and got away with it.

Anonymous said...


You've got it the wrong way around my friend. The state of Florida almost killed Casey Anthony but luckily she was saved in the nick of time by a sharp jury with their minds solidly focused on facts rather than wild speculation.

Anonymous said...

Like any mystery, people are interested in knowing the the answer to a real-life whodunit, as well as wanting to see the 'bad guy' get his in the end and not get away with his crime.

The Madeleine McCann case is one of the most bizarre cases.

For me, in the McCann case, it hasn't been about evidence points to her being dead--she's gone, one of many children who disappear or are murdered each year. It's about the larger picture, about objecting to government deception and conspiracy and the fraudulent activities of the parents, including oollecting millions of dollars from the public based on the alleged abduction, selling items on their online store, etc.--marketing and profiting from the loss of their daughter while avoiding cooperating with or requesting the reopening of any official Portuguese investigation. My continued interest in the case is because of the high-level protection that the UK government and other powerful people have provided and continue to provide to the parents, and the way the UK media twisted the truth and has been prevented from reporting the facts of the case. There are hundreds, if not more, persons around the world, trying to get justice for that child because institutions have so far prevented it. It is serious work for these folks, blogging, writing or signing petitions, writing letters to officials, prodding, trying to get the truth out to the public and put pressure on officials. Some of these people have been threatened with lawsuits by the McCanns' lawyers and subjected to hatefu, defamatory treatment by McCann supporters online.

The McCanns used the media as a tool to promote their innocence, incriminate others, and discredit the Portuguese investigation. They have kept the story of their daughter in the press, promoting their need for more money for their Fund. The UK press has been more than helpful to the McCanns.

We can learn a lot from these cases--about human nature, how to try to avoid something similar happening to ourselves or our loved ones (cautionary tales), and so much more, if we choose to pay attention.

No, it's not fair when one case gets an enormous amount of attention and another gets none. I'd prefer to see LESS reporting on any single case, NOT increased reporting on all abduction/missing persons cases. There wouldn't be time in the day for anything else if we followed the story of every missing person.


Anonymous said...

To correct typo on first sentence of the third paragraph of my post--I meant to have Madeleine's name in it. It should have read: "For me, in the McCann case, it hasn't been about MADELEINE--evidence points to her being dead--she's gone, one of many children who disappear or are murdered each year."

Also: oollected = collected


Dawn said...

I don't know it is so much that the public is drawn to a case but the journalist and writers are drawn to a certain case. Many of the people I work with pretty much follow what the media feds to them, in many cases, not even questioning the facts. If you have ever gone to a library and read through old newspapers or magazines, even the likes of Newsweek or Life, which most consider being reliable, the amount of misinformation and plainly untrue statements given as gospel is shocking. On a personal note, My ex-boyfriend's son and his son's girlfriend murdered one of her young sons. There was a bit on the news, other than a couple of news bites, no one cared. They were both allowed to plead to pathetically little time in prison and a sweet little one year old boy is in his grave. Where is the outrage and the reaction to his death? No where.

Anonymous said...

I completely disagree with the first two posts. I think that if not all abducted/missing people are helped they should just not help any people all together! I am in disgust after reading what you said about that african-american boy therefore I have a come-back just as racist: this is what I now think. All abducted/missing WHITE people should just be left to die and well done to anyone who's harmed them for not getting a tan and all missing/abducted BLACK people should be no.1 priority. What do you think about that Anonymous and Anonymous79?!?