Please read this great column about the endless parade of cable and tabloid damsels-in-distress by Eugene Robinson from today's Washington Post, "(White) Women We Love":
This has bothered me for years, how in a country with tens of thousands of murders and other violent deaths every year, we are focussed by our media on one white woman or child at a time. I don't know whether it's to focus our fear (à la Marilyn Manson's brilliant dissection of fear, consumption & American culture at the heart of "Bowling for Columbine"), or whether it's to make us feel more secure by making crime look like it's something rare and precious and only happening to one celebrity victim at a time. Or whether it's all just entertainment, to compete with CSI and SVU and ER and the rest of the televised alphabet soup of "human drama." In any case, it bothers me that this paranoia-inducing "news" coverage destroyed hitchhiking as a viable means of transportation in this country. And it bothers me that it takes time away from real news....We even found, or created, a damsel amid the chaos of war in Iraq: Jessica Lynch.
* * *I have no idea whether the late French philosopher Jacques Derrida hung on every twist and turn of the Chandra Levy case; somehow, I doubt he did. But I suspect the apostle of "deconstructionism" would have analyzed the damsel-in-distress phenomenon by explaining that our society is imposing its own subconsciously chosen narrative on all these cases.
It's the meta-narrative of something seen as precious and delicate being snatched away, defiled, destroyed by evil forces that lurk in the shadows, just outside the bedroom window. It's whiteness under siege. It's innocence and optimism crushed by cruel reality. It's a flower smashed by a rock.
Or maybe (since Derrida believed in multiple readings of a single text) the damsel thing is just a guaranteed cure for a slow news day. The cable news channels, after all, have lots of airtime to fill.