What is the fascination with Casey Anthony? One 96-year-old grandmother in Alabama was so fixated; she knew the names of Casey’s entire family, the defense team, the witnesses and prosecutors. The Nielsen ratings demonstrated clearly that millions of Americans spent hour upon hour of their own precious lives watching this tragic scenario unfold. But why?
Some say it’s because Caylee Anthony was a pretty little girl…her mom somewhat pretty…and white. A less attractive mother or child or a minority would not get the same attention, they argue. Maybe so. It probably did contribute to media coverage. Visual appeal is an important criteria for television. Storms are perfect as are accidents and people moving about in all sorts of ways. Thinking doesn’t play well on TV. Neither does nobility or thoughtfulness. Rash, erratic behavior…boorish rudeness…aggression….overt sexuality. These look good on camera.
It certainly was the common denominator with the media obsession over Natalee Holloway, La Crosse beauty Yeardley Love…Nicole Smith and Scott & Laci Peterson. It might explain why they got media attention, but it doesn’t explain why we watched it. Why did we watch it? Why did we devote hours of our own lives…hours we can never reclaim on the OJ trial?
Is it uplifting to the soul? Does it make us smile? Do we come back into our own reality feeling better? Does it challenge the intellect? Does it make us grateful? Does it encourage us to achieve? Does it energize or motivate?
It does none of these. Watching the Casey Anthony saga or any other tabloid tail is a squandering of your life. It is a misdirection of your mental energies. Gambling drains precious financial resources causing you to neglect paying your bills. Inordinate amounts of time spent watching this kind of coverage drains other precious resources; your time and your attention. The amount you have of that is finite. It can never be reclaimed. While children or spouses or friends or needy neighbors or responsible citizenship or just plain hard work clamor for us, we blithely turn to the screen, seemingly paying no price, or at least, none we can feel in the moment.