I’ll Talk About Dead Bodies Only if There’s a Hot Body Too!

They say it really isn’t an official summer road trip until a kid throws up in the car. Our road trip was official within the second hour of driving. But that was the least nauseating part of the trip because I had the most unfortunate experience of traveling during the Anthony trial.

I know, I know. Never heard of it, right? Yeah, I wish too. It was being discussed in many of the places we happened through. Vicksburg, Pensacola, Tallulah — it was as if this child was a relative to all. Wisps of conversations floating about.

I spotted a waitress in Jonesboro, Arkansas showing her phone to a coworker. At first I thought, well, that’s sweet; she’s showing a photo of her child she’s proud of. But then I saw the screen of her phone (she was near me and I’m quite nosy). It was a photo of the Anthony girl. The waitress was visibly shaken; she was telling someone about that trial and her displeasure with the jury results. Frantic nods were exchanged as the women looked with wet eyes at the digital image of a toddler.

This got me to thinking about the effects of immediacy and empathy. This child of the South was being mourned with obvious zeal, but grief for the countless children who are currently dying from things like drone attacks isn’t something being experienced in these venues. That’s just nonsense to ponder, really. The media has focused on this one child almost as an exhaust valve for well meaning individuals who just absorb the news they are fed; people who still evidently have the capacity to grieve for someone they don’t even know. And it certainly keeps discussion away from the more concrete and systemic ailments facing this nation.

One wonders if the mainstream media picked one single child from Afghanistan, a child killed in a drone attack. Could they foster the same empathy if countless photos of an adorable, large eyed child were available (of course, they wouldn’t be, but for comparison sake….)? If the child’s milestones were described, if crying relatives were placed on the news with continued stories each night, maybe some of her friends could describe how much they miss her. Could the same level of loss be arrived at by these women in the far flung regions of the South? I really don’t know the answer to that question, but it’s not like this will be tested out. Americans aren’t supposed to grieve for those others, and their news will not avail the opportunity.

Those kids are statistics but ours are precious.

I know that the salacious aspects of this case probably piqued the interest of those who normally don’t follow news of any kind, but it is undeniable that this is what is served to these individuals. It’s not like they have easily accessible information on anything other than the three or four stories that have been agreed upon as the news to be chewed up, regurgitated and stuffed into their baby bird mouths.

I’ve learned from coworkers who refused to allow me that precious ignorance I had in regard to this case that the mom was involved in “Hot Body” contests after her child was dead. I’m sure you have similar helpful people in your lives. The ones who make sure you know about the things that you don’t want to know about. It’s all very generous of them. But it did spark a thought:

Maybe the child deaths in Iraq weren’t so newsworthy in the previous years because of a lack of a Hot Body angle. If only Rummy had competed in Hot Body contests. He might have received some sympathy votes for his old saggy ass, and maybe the depleted uranium babies could have merited an expert or two on Headline News.

Obama pretty much just does his own personal “Hot Body” contests; they aren’t done on the road or in public, so probably no follow up on the Afghanistan drone attacks. He oils up in front of the mirror in the Lincoln bedroom in his underpants, cigarette dangling from his lips. “Who’s a hot body? You’re a hot body.” (he talks about himself in the third person). As he starts to pull his underpants down for part two of his performance his handler comes in. “Yes, yes, I’m working on the speech“ (he clears his throat and adjusts the underpants) “Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.”

“That’s perfect, Mr. Bateman, I mean, President Obama. Everyone will think it’s funny to mention the Jonas Brothers in coordination with predator drones. That’s comedy gold.”

I know it’s a difficult job for Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. You can’t know if the child deaths will have any Hot Body connection so you really don’t know whether to employ the experts or not. Like everything in the journalistic world these days, it’s all so “unexpected”.

I’m probably being a bit aggressive in not mentioning that, of course, any child death is a tragedy beyond scope; it’s just another sad example of American Narcissism (yes, I capitalized that; it seems necessary). So many brutal and tragic demises are just cast upon the carnage heap that is Empire Gone Wild. The mainstream media decides who and what deserves compassion, and it isn’t anyone hapless enough to be born in a nation needin’ bombing.

I’m not sure what the next diversion of the week will be, but I do know one thing:

“Two words for you: Conscientious Reporting. You definitely will not see it.”

Kathleen Wallace Peine welcomes reader response. She can be reached at: kathypeine@gmail.com. Read other articles by Kathleen.