Roughly 99.7% of all responsible parents are in a tizzy over the Casey Anthony verdict. Even though I’m an emotionally stunted troglodyte, I understand the outrage…to an extent. If I ever decide to procreate, I’m sure my reaction to a similar verdict would be more visceral. I’ve already had a fair number of arguments about the state’s prosecution (which I think was abysmal), as well as the permissible degree of doubt in evidence when a jury has a fellow human being’s life on the line (I say there should be zero). My outraged friends and I probably won’t reach a consensus, but at least it’s been a respectful dialogue.
I think I’m more curious why we even care. My friend Adam summed it up best. “According to the most recent stats available, in 2008 police in the US investigated 569 murders of children under 5 years old,” he said. “Where was the 24-hour cable news coverage and public outrage for them?”
I have a few halfcocked hypotheses. I imagine most of those murders were open and shut cases that involved a family member or close friend. A good number of the unsolved cases were probably long on mystery and short on sensationalism. Extensive coverage on some of the remaining cases might have triggered longwinded and uncomfortable debates about race or class, so they were sidestepped.
So why Casey Anthony?
Come on! We’re a country full of superficial and easily stupefied rubberneckers (me included). The kid was achingly cute. The mom was hot and slutty. When you compared Tot Mom to other jailhouse babes, she’s an 11. That’s why the story got national attention.
Dorquemada’s Scale of Relative Hotness factors in the news coverage, but it also applies to sentencing when a naughty girl is convicted. How about those female teachers that get caught in illicit relationships with underage male students? When you look like this, you get house arrest (lest the other gals in the clink prey on you).
And when you look like this, you get 5-25 years of hard time.
Hey, I’m not saying it’s not fair or right. It’s just an observation.
Dorquemada’s Scale of Relative Hotness also applies to the media itself. I previously expounded on that very topic in my “Wanted: spokemodels for the apocalypse” post that I’m too lazy to hyperlink. It’s no secret that Fox News’ rise to prominence is partially due to the deep and lofty lineup of hot Stepfordish blonde babes reading the teleprompters all day. It might have happened because they chased off any godless leftist who advocates dirty, commie, one-world government-loving , internationalist pinkos seizing my guns and forcing me to accept gay Muslim marriage between vegan Eskimo albinos who drive hybrid cars (with the Dixie Chicks blasting from the car stereo, of course). Because lord knows we have enough of that poppycock on the other news channels. But I think the babe quotient was also a factor. And it forced CNN to step up their game.
I’ll never reshuffle my stock portfolio based on Alison Kosik’s prognostications, but I will drop everything and gawk like an utterly transfixed boob whenever she’s on the morning broadcast. Unless I’m watching TV on the treadmill. Then I’m a love struck rat on a wheel, chasing a dream that’s excruciatingly fleeting and ephemeral.
Sadly, Dorquemada’s Scale of Relative Hotness also extends to the political arena. Because how the hell else do you explain Sarah Palin’s continued relevance?
It can’t be for her original ideas, because she has none. She’s like a human Speak n’ Spell of Republican talking points. Nearly everything that comes out of her mouth is a hodgepodge of vacuous platitudes that get shoehorned into the discussion. If she was ten years older or fifty pounds heavier, no one would have given a crap about her in the first place. Yet she somehow continues to work her hot chick mojo, which hypnotizes otherwise sober-thinking conservatives into defending her latest episode of verbal diarrhea, even if it means egregious historical revision (ex., her riveting account of Paul Revere). This dumbbell could trot out on stage tomorrow and emphatically proclaim that the sky is purple. By day’s end, Rush, Hannity, or Beck’s researchers will try to convince us that she is factually correct. And I’ll bang my head against my desk. Over. And over. And over.
So remember the Scale of Relative Hotness the next time you get swept up by the latest media furor. The only thing we enjoy more than a good trainwreck is one that is blow-dried and well-manicured. And maybe just a hint of Chanel.
Okay, I’m creeping myself out at this point…