Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Angels In America?

I've been really fascinated by this whole Imette St. Guillen story. For those of you not from New York (or Boston, Imette's hometown), Imette St. Guillen was the 24 year old criminal justice grad student who was brutally raped, tortured and murdered last week. She was last seen at The Falls, which is a bar in Soho, which is an area that I avoid like the plague for reasons completely unrelated to this murder case. (Narrow, packed sidewalks and $9 beers, anyone?)

This case, and more specifically-- the MEDIA COVERAGE of this case has stirred up quite a bit in me, and I've already carefully decided not to share my opinions with my co-workers (I work on the Upper East Side, after all). Imette's face has been plastered across the cover of every shitty New York newspaper for the past week and a half with headlines like "Imette St. Guillen-- Fallen Angel, Always."

I know I'm being a bit extreme, but I have a real problem with the whole reverence thing. Apparently this girl was not as brilliant as the media has let on. She was at the bar, became drunk and belligerent, got in an argument with her friends, and then insisted on staying behind when they all left. For a criminal justice student, this girl seemed to lack basic street smarts. At closing time the bouncer (who is the number 1 suspect in the case) tried to escort her out the door and she became aggressive and argumentative with him. She was last seen getting into a van with the bouncer, who was overheard saying "I'll take you home." Less then 24 hours later she was found in a secluded area off the highway-- nude, wrapped in a blanket, severely beaten and mutilated. Murdered.

It's a horrible and tragic story, but the worst part is that this sort of thing happens quite often, and this particular case has morphed into a sick Lifetime Movie. What about other rape victims? What about other women who mysteriously disappear? Why haven't we heard their stories? What does a woman have to do to become an "angel"?

9 Thoughts:

Blogger pawlr said...

Well, for starters, she should be white and at least middle-class or higher. Those credentials, plus a sordid death, is usually enough to earn a victim her wings.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous kyahgirl said...

oh wow, what an awful story. I hadn't heard about it.
I think pawlr hit the nail on the head.
If that incident had happened here (and believe me, we have LOTS of violent crime here, I think Edmonton might be the murder capital of Canada) if it was an aboriginal or Asian, the coverage would be different than for a WASP.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger brooklynmum said...

Actually, I believe she is Latina - though could easily pass for white. It also helps that she's considered 'beautiful'. Every article and tv news item I have seen has referred to the "beautiful Ms. St. Guillen..." Apparently unattractive women who are raped and murdered don't qualify for the same level of media coverage.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 4:16:00 PM  
Blogger Palmer said...

Here age and the "csi-miami-ness" of the way she was found all contribute to her beatification.

Plus, the name Imette St. Guillen has an angelic ring to it.

Sad story. Feel like the coverage encourages this kind of behavior.

That and the preoccupation with crime scenes and forensics.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 5:42:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

Dave Chappell had a great gag about this that was based on the idea of "how many niggahs are out there lost and nobody give a shit." It's true, there are thousands of black people still listed as missing from Katrina and who gives a shit?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a bunch of idiots "Race?"
do you have a life?
Media is just a form of manpulation for people like you....

This was a horrible crime! She was raped and muredered.....do you want anything else to be shown? who cares if she was purple or blue.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger pigletson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger pigletson said...

Ohhhhh hey-- welcome back, troll! You rawk. Anyhow, I don't really understand your statement: "The media is a form of manipulation (or 'manpulation,' as you called it) for people like us." I couldn't disagree more. I felt like the point of the original post (whether or not you agreed with it) was to show the ignorance of the media. I was in no way insinuating that I didn't show compassion for the victim; rather, I was asking why the media depicted her as an "angel" when the reality is that she was a young grad student who was in the wrong place at the wrong time? And I know it's wrong to speak even somewhat negatively about the dead, but let's be honest here-- the girl had bad judgment, and unfortunately the circumstances proved to be fatal.

And lastly-- why are we hearing so much about this particular case? Women are raped and murdered more often than we'd like to think about but we don't hear about them all. It seems that the ones who get the most attention are white and "beautiful".

Could you possibly elaborate on your point?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger pawlr said...

What I'm interested in is what motivates a male to commit a crime like this (assuming it was a male of course). I'm not sure about this, but it depends on whether I think about male power/sadism behavior in terms of either the "hydraulic" model (a la Freud) or as "habitual" model (a la behavioral psych).

The hydraulic model posits that for some disturbed males whose power-drives are thwarted by society, the resulting repression creates pressure that yearns for release in outrageous and barbaric social acts. (I'm not talking about the playful S&M which can take place between consenting adults here, but murder).

The habitual or "enabler" model, on the other hand, usually blames role models and media, violent porn, Hollywood, etc. for creating a culture of acceptance surrounding sadistic and violent behavior that enables this sort of activity by males, and the more it is propagated, the more likely it becomes for other males to imitate this behavior.

Proposed "solutions" (not that I believe there are any) to male power crimes vary widely depending on whether you adhere to the "habit" model or the "repression" model, when in fact its probably a combination of both.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 11:05:00 AM  

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