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Casey Anthony and the rise of the true-crime celebrity

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In Infantile Gambino’s 2011 track “Bonfire,” he raps that he “made the beat then murdered it, Casey Anthony.” Name-outs in hip-hop songs are often reserved for celebrities like Halle Berry or Beyoncé — proficient people who find themselves simply recognizable as fodder in witty lyrics. However Anthony has a distinct sort of title recognition: In 2008, she was charged with first-degree homicide within the loss of life of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

After dwelling with public hostility for over a decade after her acquittal, Anthony is attempting to inform her aspect of occasions within the Peacock docuseries “Casey Anthony: The place the Fact Lies,” which premiered in late November.

Anthony’s trial garnered hordes of media consideration and vitriol when she was ultimately discovered not chargeable for her daughter’s loss of life however responsible on 4 counts of offering false data to legislation enforcement. Within the new three-episode restricted collection, Anthony alleges that her father was chargeable for Caylee’s loss of life and was the pressure behind Anthony’s lies.

With the brand new present, Anthony joins an notorious checklist of people that have been accused or convicted of misdeeds solely to seek out themselves in a brand new rung of society: movie star. This yr alone, cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, scammer Anna Delvey and tech fraud Elizabeth Holmes have been the main target of extremely fashionable restricted collection primarily based on their lives and crimes.

Impacts from these tasks can have far-reaching implications past viewership numbers; they can’t solely alter public sentiment, however probably have an effect on the justice system. Simply have a look at Adnan Syed, the topic of the “Serial” podcast, who had his murder conviction tossed this yr. As a result of these leisure ventures can probably change the course of somebody’s life, the query turns into: Who deserves a platform?

“The place the Fact Lies” gives Anthony with a 3½-hour pulpit. Her narrative is the center of the collection. Anthony’s authorized crew, which she says has grow to be her surrogate household since she accused her father of sexual assault, is firmly in her nook. The remainder of the central interviewees, together with the detective who labored on Caylee’s case and Anthony’s former mates, consider that the now-36-year-old is in some way chargeable for her daughter’s loss of life. However the doc just isn’t a true-crime reenactment of the case or a “Serial”-esque investigation. Although it reveals viewpoints from individuals who each assist and contradict Anthony, it’s a story largely instructed from her viewpoint.

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Alexandra Dean, the present’s director, believes that the hatred of Anthony was fed by the media’s obsession along with her story — Nancy Grace once called her “essentially the most hated mother in America” — which subsequently affected her public picture. “Casey Anthony’s courtroom case coincided with the height of actuality tv and 24-hour cable information, and due to that, I believe Casey was became a two-dimensional actuality TV villain by sure cable personalities,” Dean instructed The Washington Put up.

Dean, who was drawn to Anthony’s story due to a need to be a “voice for the unvoiced,” stated she “love[s] the combined response” to the undertaking as a result of she feels “it’s stirring up debate the place earlier than there was simply blind hatred.”

A lot of that renewed and rehashed dialog has taken place on social media. Comic Rosie O’Donnell stated in a TikTok that she believes Anthony is harmless after watching the Peacock present. On the identical web site, a video was posted of somebody believed to be Anthony onstage throughout a Metal Panther live performance, which some commenters identified would contradict Anthony’s claims from the documentary that she is afraid of leaving her dwelling.

Felony suspects and crimes have at all times captured public curiosity, however Adam Golub, professor of American research at California State College at Fullerton, says our present “age of true crime on demand” has seen notoriety and movie star more and more intertwined. “I believe [the docuseries is] a transparent try to attempt to remix Casey Anthony into the tradition. … That is an try to attempt to change the story, to alter the narrative … sort of like a star who’s attempting to reinvent their picture or rebrand their picture,” he stated. “I believe that if we reached the purpose the place criminals are sort of participating in PR, that’s actually crossed the road into movie star additionally.”

Some viewers, in addition to individuals who refuse to look at the collection, have flooded the documentary’s IMDb web page to complain that Anthony is receiving extra media consideration. The outrage mirrors the response to Netflix’s “Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” which creator Ryan Murphy defended in a New York Occasions interview: “What are the principles now? Ought to we by no means do a film a couple of tyrant?”

Whereas the query posed by Murphy was rhetorical, Washington Put up columnist and former cannibalism scholar Monica Hesse has an answer. “Is ‘Dahmer’ a present that ought to have been made? You don’t even have to begin an episode to grow to be satisfied that the reply is not any. Family members of the serial killer’s 17 victims have been vocal in saying the present retraumatized them. Rita Isbell, the sister of Errol Lindsey, stated she was dismayed to see her impassioned courtroom speech to Dahmer — officers needed to restrain her from attacking him — reenacted phrase for phrase and remodeled right into a meme,” she wrote in a bit concerning the Netflix present.

Dean takes problem with the place that the voices behind true-crime tales don’t must be shared. She stated she was “shocked a couple of members of the press have determined to hitch the mob insisting Casey and I each keep silent. I didn’t see that coming. I count on critics to disagree with the creative selections in my documentaries, however press calling for much less freedom of press, much less freedom of speech. That startled me.”

Whether or not the general public desires them, it’s clear that audiences have a thirst for all these tales. “Dahmer” is without doubt one of the most-watched Netflix reveals of all time, based on the streamer. A 2017 documentary about Anthony broke records for its host community, Investigation Discovery, when it reached 2.9 million individuals.

However what’s achieved by elevating the accused or convicted with leisure targeted on real-life horrors continues to be in query, Golub stated. “The place is the place within the tradition the place we really feel like we’d like felony celebrities? What is that this doing for us? What’s it doing to us?”


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