Monday, May 6, 2013

It’s becoming hard to ignore Jodi Arias. That’s a shame, because she’s ignorable

Stumbling around the television this past weekend I had to go out of my way to ignore the CNN Headline News channel – one of those outlets that is treating Jodi Arias as though she’s somehow someone interesting.

ARIAS: Reknowned for less than nothing
Arias is a young woman facing criminal charges out in Phoenix, Ariz., for the shooting death of her boyfriend.

HER TRIAL HAS been ongoing since January, and that cable news channel has tried to give us every single moment of what really is a tedious criminal case. A non-story, when you think about it realistically.

So what happened when the case finally wrapped up and it went to a jury?

That jury deliberated for less than an hour on Friday, then quit for the day. They’re scheduled to resume deliberations on Monday.

Yet anytime I tried turning to the Headline News channel for a quickie summary of weekend news, all I stumbled across was “Jodi Arias Watch” – with endless, and breathless, commentary meant to pass the time until the moment we get the verdict.

WHICH MIGHT MAKE sense if the jury had been sequestered and was actually deliberating during the weekend hours. As if we might literally learn at any second what the verdict is.

But we’re not! Anyone with sense would use this weekend to take a break from the endless babble we’ve been subjected to about a “story” that really isn’t of any interest outside of the Phoenix area.

I know that goes contrary to the news judgment being espoused by these television programs that like to turn trivia into something pretending to be significance. That really is what is at work with this particular story – which I have gone out of my way to ignore because I just don’t see the point of it.

As a reporter-type person for the past quarter century, I have covered countless criminal cases. Trials of all sorts! Which means I understand that some cases get tremendous amounts of coverage, while others are lucky to get a three-paragraph brief written about them when the verdict is reached.

OR SOMETIMES, ONLY when the lengthy prison sentence is imposed.

I honestly believe this Arias case falls into the latter category. I certainly don’t see anything about it that makes it worth the blow-by-blow coverage that places like CNN or Inside Edition are giving it.

For those of you who don’t know, this case amounts to a domestic dispute that got out of hand.

Arias was dating a man named Travis Alexander, who ultimately decided he wanted out of the relationship. They broke up (it seems that he dumped her).

DEPENDING ON WHO one wants to believe, she killed him because she didn’t like being dumped. Although there are others who would say he was beating her, and that she finally got fed up and defended herself with a firearm.

Which must make this case confusing for the conservative ideologues. On the one hand, the “law and order” types probably like the idea of the death penalty being administered against Arias.

But then again, many of them are the types who also want to believe that more access to firearms means that people (particularly defenseless women) will be able to protect themselves.

As I see it, neither Arias nor the victim are any kind of celebrity (like Football Hall of Fame member O.J. Simpson), nor is there anything particularly unusual about the tactic used by Arias (she’s not Lorena Bobbitt, who cut off her husband’s penis when she got fed up with his abuse of her).

NOR COULD ONE make the juvenile determination that she’s some sort of babe who will provide a titillation factor that will attract viewers (which was supposedly the reason that the “Casey Anthony case” in Florida was a BIG story).

This is nothing more than a domestic dispute. Outside of the Phoenix area (where it can be argued that this is a local crime story), what possible reason could there be for paying attention to this case?

PACINO (as Corleone): Stuck like the rest of us
Yes, I am venting several months’ worth of contempt because the coverage I have stumbled across has never managed to give me any reason to pay attention to this case. Because I sense for the next few days, there are going to be significant sections of my cable television package that I’m going to have to avoid watching unless I want to be burdened even more with this trivial mass.

Which makes me feel like Al Pacino’s aging version of “Michael Corleone” from Godfather III; as in the one line that gets quoted as much as anything from the other two films – “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”


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