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Monday, April 5, 2010

Beautiful White Children Are Missing

20somethings amuse me, and I guess, as a twenty-nine-year-old, I can still say that and sound self-aware without sounding crusty. I often balk at the things they say and do-- the vapidity, the insipidity, the shameless vanity and unapologetic trendiness, the egomaniacal self-engorgement.

The overwhelming propensity to treat "The Daily Show" as an actual news source.

Oh, is this what being "counterculture" has become? Lame!

Then again, if you want lame, come join me, my snoozing wife, and the dogs on the couch for a round of "The Today Show." If you only got your news from "The Today Show," you would be convinced that the most pressing issues of import in our world are Tiger Woods' pink-seeking missiledick and Joe Biden proclaiming healthcare to be a "big fucking deal."

Which, by the way, it is.

Also, if all you watched for news was "The Today Show," you would be unalterably convinced that only beautiful white children go missing in America.

While I don't have real, hard-n-fast statistics to back up my claim (I don't need them-- this isn't a scholarly article-- I was never very good at writing those anyway-- far too much passion, you know) I can tell you that my anecdotal observance of "The Today Show" missing child content is overwhelmingly tilted towards photogenic white children. Just this morning, they announced that a girl named "Kayleah" was missing. Now, I admit that this is probably racist of me, but, when I saw the spelling of the name on the screen, I said to my wife, "Oh my God, are they finally profiling a missing black girl?"

My wife, of course, was asleep, her head thrown back on the sofa cushion and her mouth unceremoniously open, trying to catch another few minutes of pre-commute sleep. Needless to say, she didn't respond.

Then, a moment or two later, they showed a picture of the missing girl. White.

Living as I do just a couple of short minutes away from Philadelphia, I know that black children go missing-- because I sometimes watch the local news. The local news cannot possibly get away with singlemindedly promoting and publicizing the plight of grief-stricken Caucasian families whose children have been plucked from their grasp. In Philly-- black kids get abducted all the time: by perverts hanging around playgrounds and schools, by their parents or relatives, by their Baby Daddies, by criminals and by miscreants and by ne'er-do-wells, by, well, kidnappers. Sometimes they're returned safely. Sometimes, they're returned in bodybags.

Somehow, neither event seems to warrant the national spotlight.

There's an old news maxim: "If it bleeds, it leads." I suppose a mantra for the new age of news about abductees, and even murder victims could be: "If it's white, it sees the light."

When I had my old blog, I wrote a post that slammed the "New York Daily News" for repeatedly profiling the murders of young, attractive, white women. One was a former model, slashed to death on the subway, an inglorious end for anyone, one was found tossed in a dumpster like, well, like yesterday's "New York Daily News." One was stuffed between a mattress and a wall, killed by a jealous boyfriend. In the text of these articles, there was almost always some reference to the victim's physical beauty. The references were never in quotation marks, the comments of a family friend or a relative, but they were embedded within the text of the article, presented by the reporter as just another fact-- no different than the location of the crime or the description of the murder weapon. Words like "attractive," "beautiful," "very pretty" were all used liberally. And, after reading the fourth or fifth story like this, I started to think, "do ugly people get murdered in New York City?" and, if they do, do the reporters write:

"Silvio Carnacci, a foul-smelling, unshaven 54-year-old Italian immigrant with three real teeth and one hair-covered mole on his forehead was found dead in his apartment yesterday morning by two patrolmen from the 9th Precinct answering a distress call. One of the officers was 6'2" and handsome in a classic way with a Romanesque nose and broad shoulders, his partner, however, had chin acne and a slight limp."

Sometimes I think back to the night when Barack Obama got elected President of this country. At that time, my wife and I lived in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, and people were blaring their car horns all goddamn night, even banging on kitchen pots and pans with spoons in the middle of the street. I think maybe some of those people were heralding Obama's election as the beginning of the end of racism in America.

I don't know. I still only see pictures of missing white children on TV.


  1. and somewhere, Meredith Viera is shaking a spoon at your blog. ;)

    But yes- you'd think they'd at least feature a black kid during sweeps. Because once you get all their family on including, possibly 3 baby daddies and their new women, it's a ratings GUARANTEE. Springer isn't popular for no reason.

  2. You're right about this phenomenon, and it's not only in America. Good to know racism is alive and kicking, unlike some of those children that go missing...

  3. If you watch 20/20 and 48 Hours Mysteries, you will become convinced that only two types of murders happen at all, and they both happen to white women.

    1. Pretty young white woman is murdered.
    2. Upper middle class white woman is murdered, most likely by husband who is a doctor, and who has at least one dead wife in his past. Sometimes two.

  4. Racism is, indeed, alive and well.

  5. Thanks to the Today Show, I also understand that Tori Spelling's marriage is important news.

  6. Ugly people don't get murdered in NYC because only beautiful people live there. Haven't you ever seen SVU?

  7. This also made me think of Family Guy, where they have a clip of the news people at the scene of a school bus crash and first they read off the name of the only fatality as "Becky Gunderson" and everyone gets all excited, and then they say, "Oh, no wait, sorry that's Becky Gutierrez." And all the newspeople wander off disinterestedly.

    I watch too much t.v.

  8. It's like when Hurricane Katrina happened and the media would show a picture of two white people taking crap from a store and the caption would read "after finding soda etc" and then a picture of two black people where the caption would read: "after looting a grocery store". White people "find", black people "loot"...what the hell is that?

  9. This is very interesting. I don't watch the news because it depresses me and I don't watch the Daily Show anymore because I don't have cable. So basically I get all my news from Twitter. So I've been unable to notice trends like this. Which, well, kind of annoys me now.


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