Thursday, April 20, 2006

Dead and Missing Pretty White Girls

Why is it whenever an attractive, preferably blond, white girl either dies or goes missing, the whole country goes apeshit? Elizabeth Smart, Laci Peterson, Terri Schaivo, Natalee Holloway, I'm probably missing a few here and there. All these girls and women either died or went missing, and the 24 hour news media jumps on the story like a tiger on a gazelle, with breaking news, exclusive coverage and all these other features, that are usually reserved for the death of a head of state or a hurricane taking out a village in Nowhereistan.

Remember Elizabeth Smart? She was the pretty, white teenage girl who went missing from her Utah home in 2003, and was found not too far from her home in the company of a homeless drifter and his wife. While the girl was found safe, and not too worse for wear, CNN, Fox News and all the 24 hour news channels provided wall to wall updates about every lead, tip and clue to Smart's whereabouts. One story proclaimed the teenager as 'America's Sweetheart', and that the whole country was praying for her and rallying for her rescue. You can bet that if it was a little black girl from the South Side of Chicago, or Harlem, or from my hometown's Homewood-Brushton who disappeared under suspicious circumstances, the omnipresent media wouldn't be parking camera trucks around the parents house on a 24 hour stakeout.

How about the Laci Peterson story. Pretty, affluent, pregnant white girl in California gets killed by her husband because he was having an affair. The guy gets sentenced to death for the murder, which he should, by the way, but the whole country gets to see this spectacle played in its entirety on their television screens ad nauseum. I hate to say this, but while this story is sad and I feel for the parents in their loss, why does their story merit nationwide news coverage, when pretty, pregnant, poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, what have you girls are getting killed by their husbands all over the country?

Lets skip to Terri Schiavo, Everybody knows the story of this unfortunate. Pretty white girl on life support. The parents wanted to keep her alive, even though she had little brain activity, probably could not see or hear, her body not much more than a shell. She wasn't living, she was existing. There is a difference. The husband, insisting that he knew Terri's wishes despite her not putting them in writing wants to pull the plug, so he can get on with his life and new honey. Both sides shamelessly using this poor girl to further their causes. Even the right-wingers in Congress got involved, drafting emergency legislation with astounding speed to replace the feeding tube that was keeping Terri alive. She ultimately passed away, and predictably, the parents and the husband wrote dueling books that explain their side of the story while branding the other side as liars and evil spawns of Satan. Aside from the fact that all of America was privy to a scene that occurs all over the nation in private, There are hundreds of cases of families who deal with similar end-of -life decisions totally within the family and away from the harsh glare of TV cameras.

Lastly we come to Natalee Holloway. Pretty White girl from upscale Birmingham, Alabama who disappears from a post graduation trip in Aruba in 2005, and is still missing today. Depending on which news channel or tabloid you believe she is either: 1) Dead; 2)In a White slavery ring; 3) Alive, but being held for ransom; 4) Abducted by aliens, and pregnant with Elvis's baby. (Ok, I made that one up, But I think Weekly World News will be going with that angle next week...you heard it here first). Everyday the tabs come out with a new and even more bizarre take on this story. Thousands of girls go missing all over the country, why does this one get all the buzz?

I am not trying to make light off these tragedies. Despite what you may think after reading all this drivel, I do have a heart. But it drives me crazy, everytime the news channels glom onto the latest pretty white girl who does herself a mischief. Minority women go missing every day, but I don't see Fox News doing wall to wall coverage. Poor girls die under truly evil circumstances, but their stories aren't covers on the weekly tabloid fishwrap. I understand that pretty people are more likely to get commented on, or watched by the media, and the antics of beautiful celebrities are slam dunk assignments for reporters needing something to report on. You think that the TV channels are interested in covering the comings and goings of schmucks like me? Hardly. One theory I have is today's news channels have 24 hours to fill, and there is only so much political chicanery, natural disasters, and other assorted flotsam and jetsam that can be stuffed into newscasts, so to justify that 24 hour label, they have to find stories that are guaranteed to boost the ratings, and what better way to do so than to report on the latest pretty,white, dead/missing girl.
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