Yesterday, in the 102 degree heat, sitting on the easy chair with clicker in hand I took a tour of the TV nether lands. An alien area where people pick one crime, one incident, to re-enact all the social goo we love. I would not be one to deny anyone their low brow entertainment, but there was something tragic and pathetic with the attention and the devotion to watching the trial.
I frankly know nothing of the case and the characters and do not care to find out. But, for sure, the accused has no chance. The mobs outside have drawn and quartered her. The TV announcer, in a sportscaster tone, spewed the highlights and the drama of the day in court. If I was an alien from another planet, I would think this was the only murder of a child in America, ever. Ninety percent of America fancies itself to be a forensic expert by merely watching some television shows such as CSI. People across America are glued to this spectacle of Roman Colosseum style justice.
Medeas have come and gone and they have alway grabbed our attention. They offer one balm to the shallow thinker: ” Evil”. A clear and true manifestation of all that is evil beyond the shadow of doubt, or argument. It seems calming to offer up to the masses something they can all agree on: an evil mother. Annually about 1,400 children are killed/murdered, 60% of those deaths are committed by parents. Yet, this woman is chosen for the drama. This pathetic oddity who seems to have wanted to relieve herself from the burdens of parenthood. So once again, we take our social problems and dilute them down to a melodramatic passion play. A play that makes us feel superior and cleansed and united in a common social value system.
I am not making excuses for any parent who harms a child. In fact, there are no excuses. In the drama spectrum we have the Disney apotheosis of the orphaned child, the ultimate angel. To the tragic cases such as this, the Medea, the mother that kills her child, the ultimate manifestation of evil. As our moral compass is tested, time after time, we look for the easy black and white narratives to comfort us. Our politicians have adopted this language of the grotesque to soothe our confused little brains.