For some Americans, this promises to be a big week…a very big week. You see, this may be the week the media circus, also known as the Jodi Arias trial, reaches a climax…er, verdict.
For weeks on end, Americans have been glued to their TVs to make certain they wouldn’t miss a single salacious detail of the trial. They were riveted by testimony regarding the sexual relationship between Arias and her murder victim. They hung on every word of testimony from expert witnesses. They posted their theories on Facebook and Twitter. Many stood in line for hours in hopes they could grab a seat in the courtroom. A few even traveled to Phoenix so they could be near the event and, perhaps, catch a glimpse of some of the participants.
In short, the Arias trial was a media outlet’s dream, certain to increase ratings. The trial had it all…sex, bondage, betrayal, murder, intrigue…it was almost as if Fifty Shades of Grey had come to life.
Of course, murder trials take place daily in courts across the country. But only the most sensational garner such attention. The Arias trial is but the latest in a long line of sensational, made-for-TV trials, such as the OJ Simpson trial, Amanda Knox trial, and the Casey Anthony trial. Only the trials with the most famous celebrities, the most beautiful defendants, the cutest victims, or the most aberrant behavior draw such attention.
Whatever the verdict, such trials say far more about our society and our media than they do about the defendants.
Imagine if that kind of media attention was focused on real issues and problems. Imagine if the homeless and the hungry were covered relentlessly by news outlets. Imagine if the media spent as much time on public policy, politicians and corrupt officials. Imagine if network TV reporters covered the murders of innocent civilians caused by our lax gun laws as voraciously as they covered the murder of OJ’s wife.
Imagine if the public cared.