When we launched Michael Tracey’s series on the Ramsey case we frankly didn’t know what to expect. We hoped for intelligent engagement around the essay’s central thesis – a runaway media and what it tells us about the sad state of our democracy. We feared that the place would be overrun by nutters. In the end, though, neither our hopes nor fears have been realized.
Instead there’s been a lot of silence. We know some people are reading – we have access to the stats, after all – but there’s been minimal response.
I think I know why. The other day Lex, one of our most prolific commenters, posted this:
Honestly, I didn’t think that this would be very interesting at first…but that almost certainly stems from the JonBenet overload that, apparently, still affects me. I was wrong. I’ve now gone back and read the whole thing (twice for a few of them) and I’m hooked.
Of course, now I’ll never be able to watch one of those Hollywood serial killer flicks without thinking how the actual scenario would probably go.
Thanks to S&R and Mr. Tracey.
“JonBenet overload.” In truth, there has certainly been plenty about this case to get sick of, and I’m guessing that the smarter you are, the sicker you are. If ever there was a case of Tabloids Gone Wild, this was it. I suspect a lot of people see any mention of JonBenet and lunge for the remote, and it’s hard to blame them.
Of course, this means they’re avoiding this remarkable series without understanding what it is that they’re avoiding. And what they’re avoiding isn’t tabloid mania, it’s instead one of the most well-reasoned and coherent analyses of tabloid mania that you’re ever likely to encounter.
Early on in the series I got an e-mail from the editor of a highly respected blog. He’d initially made the same mistake that so many others had. Here’s what he had to say:
This is great stuff, Sam.
Really wonderful. For those who didn’t read it because it’s about Jonbenet, well, it isn’t. It is about how Media NARRATIVES are established. JonBenet is simply the example which is used.
We’ve now completed the prologue, the section on the media malpractice surrounding the case and a chronicle of how one of the more disturbing admitted pedophiles we’ve encountered in awhile was tracked down and arrested. Up next comes the meat of the series: Tracey’s extended examination of what it all means for those of us who live in a society that’s oversaturated by irresponsible media and undernourished by any genuine perspective on how we’re being manipulated and automated out of our freedom.
We hope you’ll catch up, as Lex did, and join us in the coming days as we engage in some of the best work that has ever appeared on Scholars & Rogues.
For my part, I think that’s a pretty big statement.