JODI ARIAS AND OTHER PRETTY PEOPLE MURDERS

Dear Mrs. Crabby,
Please write a commentary on the Jodi Arias trial. I am hoping you can persuade my parents to watch something else on television.
Thank you,
John in Arizona

Dear John,

Jodi Arias killed Travis Alexander. She unleashed murderous rage in this act with such extreme violence that one is given pause when considering the helpless appearance of small women. She denied doing this at first. Then she admitted it. Both times with wide public exposure. Great expense and even more public drama have ensued in her trial, conviction and now her sentencing.

John in Arizona is a level headed fellow who wishes his parents would watch something more edifying. My process in regarding these kinds of things led down several paths.

Not knowing much about the case, I checked out the 48 hours show. This case has the same salacious appeal as the Casey Anthony and Scott Peterson cases. Murder most foul, sex, lies and videotapes. Then there are the Menendez Brothers, OJ Simpson, etc, etc, In these cases, the accused killers end up with huge notoriety and fame, marriage proposals, donations to their defense fund and stalkers of their own. And it always seems to involve remarkably attractive people on both sides – victim and victimizer.

Statistically, overall, The bureau of justice statistics say that in the decade since 2000, the homicide rate has declined to levels last seen in the mid ‘60’s. Men are more often the victim and offender.

The U.S. shows 4.8 murders per 100,000, which makes us not nearly as awful as the Honduras or El Salvador at 91.6 and 69.2 respectively. But we certainly claimed more victims at 14,748 than those two combined at 11,412. Any way you look at it, dead is dead. I could not find statistics that speak to the highly publicized violent murders of attractive people.

The notorious cases seem to be thankfully rare. These notorious cases make me miss Margaret Mead and what her scholarly take would be. We do still have Alvin Toffler, and I dare say his quote “Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time” is quite apt here.

This potpourri of informational weaving leaves me with these observations.

Our modern day culture and society are growing more hostile and physically dangerous. On the one hand we attach significant value to media exposure, demonstrated by the high cost of advertising. It’s all about advertising. And I would wager that buying air time during a news report of Jodi Arias’ trial has been enormous. As it probably was during Scott Peterson’s trial and O.J. Simpson’s trial. This attachment of high value has to resonate in the cultural psyche in line with other values of a more positive nature. In that attachment, the more positive values of love, family and social empathy are sullied. Much the way a glass of clear water is sullied by a drop of black ink. I believe it was C.S. Lewis, perhaps in The Screwtape Letters, who wrote that the devil will hide a drop of evil in a lake of truth. This is the same physical result of our viewing extremely attractive people doing horrible things to each other and being celebrated in a money covered, highly exposed orgy of context by other extremely attractive people wearing expensive suits in highly paid media jobs. It’s damned persuasive.

Combined with an ever growing narcissistic belief in our personal entitlement to one-sided pleasure, toxic behavior is born. We will self sabotage relationships and situations that are in our best interests over a long period of time in exchange for a short term high. Sometimes this results in callous treatment of others. Sometimes this results in murder.

And the short term rush pings our brain’s pleasure centers, as other newly created technological addictions seem to be doing. We love our dopamine highs, short lived as they are. And these days there are so very many legal ways to get it. The problem is that after a time, we need more and more stimulation to get the same rush. Will this mean there will be more sensationalizing of vicious murders by extremely attractive people? Maybe. But I believe it is why we cannot look away. And I believe it is part of the trend to treat each other impersonally and unkindly while we are looking for our next dopamine fix.

So pretty. And so deadly.

To John’s parents in Arizona – shut off the television. Look into each other’s eyes. Get naked and busy with each other – that is actually healthier for you and more fun in the long run. Then go out and do something nice for someone else. Which is also healthier for you and more rewarding in the long run.

I.B. Crabby

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