I loved yesterday’s Helen post. Just loved it. And wish I had something as adorable and romantic. Instead, I come to you steamed, bewildered, and seeking clarity.
A media black hole has developed in my back yard –kindof– and it seems to have sucked in the attention of the entire nation. It’s the Casey Anthony trial and it’s huge and ugly and costly and divisive. The national media outlets are clogged with stories and speculation and declarations of impact. People line up the night before outside the courthouse to get a seat in the gallery. Fistfights have broken out among spectators! Why this particular story and why this frenzy of interest in such an ugly and disheartening case. It all centers on this woman, Casey Anthony. She has been scrutinized and analyzed ad-nauseum and her experiences and actions have been examined under the harsh light of national media for more than three years now. Every aspect of her life has been made public. Every part of her psyche has been picked apart on national television by “experts” who have never met her. And the results have been. . . ugly.
Every interaction, every thought, rebellious impulse, and desire have been catalogued and weighed on differing scales to produce wildly dissimilar conclusions. She’s a poor, troubled girl; she’s a demon walking. She’s a pathetic victim; she a vicious and unnatural killer. She loved her precious child; she hated the little girl she was “forced” to bear. Who knows the truth? Will we EVER know the truth about what happened to the bright little three year old who was murdered and discarded in a trash bag?
What is it about the case that fascinates us so? It has epic themes, I’ll grant you that. Mother-daughter battles, familial jealousies, moralistic parenting that may turn out to hold darker motives, partying life, attractive young woman who behaves inexplicably toward her child, and . . . lies and more lies. Whatever else you think of Casey Anthony, she has been proven to be a liar. She changes her life story and motivations as some women change shoes. Does that make her a murderer, too?
Are you watching the trial or reading about it in your papers? Have you caught some of the media hype with Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew, Heraldo Rivera and Court TV and all the national morning shows? What do you think? If you’re following more than casually, what draws you to the story?
Personally, I just wish it were over and the verdict had been read so these people would get off my TV and out of the headlines. Yet, I want the truth to come out. I want to know that justice has been done. And my great fear is that (like the OJ Trial) we will never know if justice is done. Doubts will always linger and guilt will shroud many of the participants in the drama for the rest of their lives.
The other thing that haunts me is the fact that the woman’s whole life is dissected and on display for the world to see. And no life can withstand that kind of scrutiny and opinionizing and still be sympathetic. Not mine. Not anyone’s. Think of the small secrets, petty animosities, youthful indiscretions, dumb choices, and little white lies that litter your own background. Think of the well-intentioned blunders or ill-informed mistakes you’ve made. Think of the strains and disruptions in relationships you’ve had that could easily be cast in a sinister light. . . making you into a “narcissistic personality” or “pathologically needy” or even show you to have “sociopathic tendencies.” Me? I put my foot in my mouth sometimes when not meaning to at all. And what if someone– looking for a juicy story– cast that in a malicious light. I could be a monster, too.
Am I empathizing with defendant Anthony? I don’t think so. I’m just thinking about the limits of our very human ability to KNOW. As a writer, I create people and backgrounds and interior lives shaped by experiences. And I’m increasingly aware that my characters (like real humans) can be misinterpreted and slandered and despised. . . when I intend them to be understood. Ever had a hero that readers found difficult or unpalatable? Ever looked at one of your friends’ spouses or significant others and thought “What the hell does she see in him?” We see things though different lenses, through our own unique and complex prescription of morals, experiences, and desires. So what is the truth about us?
What is Casey Anthony’s truth?
Yeah. Probably too philosophical. Somebody– twelve somebodies, actually– have to decide about Casey Anthony. At least with regard to the matter of her daughter’s death. And each of them, like each of us has a Point Of View. I don’t envy them that duty.
Ever wonder about God’s Point of View?