Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Dark Side

Earlier this week, John and Patsy Ramsey were cleared of suspicion in the murder of their daughter JonBenet. After years of living under a cloud of speculative suspicion, it's good to know we've eliminated two possible suspects. Now, everything has to start all over again. Which means, invariably, more media coverage.

Maybe it's me, but I've never really gotten caught up in the JonBenet Ramsey story because I find it...well, creepy. It was bad enough that JonBenet was involved in the child beauty pageant circuit and dressed like a miniature version of Anna Nicole Smith. But when you consider that people have found this story newsworthy since JonBenet's murder in 1996, I'm beginning to wonder where our collective heads are at.

First off, the child beauty pageant circuit. Having seen some of the videos of JonBenet performing, dressed up in sequins and wearing more makeup than a little girl should be, I am disgusted by what some parents will do at these pageants. The "pageant mothers" are setting their daughters up for failure, in my opinion, by creating in them a false sense of reality and pride. It's cute now, but what happens when one of the mini pageant queens stops winning? What does that do to the girl's self-esteem? Considering young women are the hardest hit by self-doubt as they grow older, the child beauty pageant circuit is not the best place for a little girl to be.

Fortunately, not all mothers are like this and they truly have their daughters' best interests in mind. Some, on the other hand, aren't so forgiving. They are the infamous "pageant moms" that, like their male counterparts the "Little League dads," put tons of pressure on their children to succeed. I'm no psychologist, but I am a thinker, and I think the motivation behind both the pageant mom and the Little League dad is living vicariously through their children. For some reason, the parents have a self-esteem issue, so they think that they can resolve it by having their progeny be better than they were. And when the children fail (which they usually do), the parents just go off. I'm not sure that's what happened here, but I do know that I'm not a big fan of child beauty pageants because it can really screw up a child.

Then, add to that all the attention this story has received. Since 1996, the JonBenet Ramsey murder has been a fixture in our culture. It seems to have the "perfect storm" of newsworthiness in modern society: a beautiful victim, incompetent police investigators, suspicion of people close to the event, and a media willing to cover every aspect of it for years on end. Quite the cocktail.

At times, it almost seems as though people, especially media people, don't want anybody to find JonBenet's killer. The minute we get to the bottom of this whodunnit, the lifespan of the story starts to wane which means the media won't have any reason to cover it. And in the end, I don't think we've gained anything from it. It's a tragedy, yes, but does it truly warrant the amount of coverage it received year after year?

All I see from the JonBenet Ramsey murder is darkness with no possible source of light. But it's not just the darkness eminating from the event itself, but in our own souls for allowing such a situation consume so much time in our lives.

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