Hurricane Natalee

Something I want to research and write on for my M.A. is “Missing White Woman Syndrome,” wherein disproportionate media coverage is given to cases involving pretty, white, female victims (or would-be victims) of crime. Think Natalee Holloway, Jennifer “Runaway Bride” Wilbanks, Chandra Levy. (The current Missing White Woman is named Emily Sanders who, it turns out, lived a double life as an Internet porn star. I’ll have to keep my eye on this case.) In particular, I want to look at the intricate construction of the CNNian/MSNBCinian mythos of Missing White Woman Syndrome, including an extensive and considered analysis its obsessive tropes and stock characters.

In any case, I thought the term Hurricane Natalee was not only catchy but appropriate, given the tropical locale in which Miss Holloway disappeared. Googling “Hurricane Natalee” turns up nothing, so I’m laying claim to the term here and now. Hurricane Natalee is the media phenomenon linked to Missing White Woman Syndrome, in which a gigantic, yet rather predictable, storm of media frenzy descends upon an otherwise unspectacular crime, forcefully displacing more newsworthy stories in favour of hails of self-righteous platitudes, misplaced victimology, demonization of the foreigner, and pretty yearbook photos.

I must point out, for the thick, that anything I write would not be about Natalee Holloway herself, but rather the media’s perverse eagerness to turn the case into yet another another excuse for circus-like wall-to-wall coverage, complete with a catchy logo and montage and theme tune. It just seems to me that this case in particular set a new standard for sensationalist, over-the-top news coverage, cementing the place of Missing White Woman Syndrome as a real phenomenon in today’s media. Natalee’s disappearance, like any other, was tragic—but at what point does news reporting thereof cross the line and, in fact, become disrespectful to the memory of, and to the family of, a victim of crime?


November 22, 2007 at 11:30 pm 1 comment

When beauty pageants go bad… real bad…

This little gem has been making the rounds. Stacy Hedger, Miss Douglas County, performs the Star Wars theme—more accurately, a knockoff of the Meco disco version thereof—on the trumpet, along with an interpretive dance. It gives a whole new meaning, on at least two levels, to “Thar she blows!

This is hilarious and horrifying at the same time. It raises some questions that I’d like you to ponder while watching. (I don’t know what’s up with the squished video.)

First, did she think that mediocre trumpet playing + mediocre interpretive dance = acceptable performance? These things aren’t additive. It goes the other way around, honey.

Second, how did this get past her bedroom mirror, let alone the friends and family she tried this out on before the pageant?

Third, what constructive criticism did said friends and family give her, and did she incorporate it? If so, how much worse was this performance before they gave their feedback? “Hey Stacy, I got an idea! Turn the trumpet around and pretend it’s a laser gun!”

Fourth, consider that she’s introduced as Miss Douglas, which means she’s already won some sort of preliminary pageant. How bad must the other contestants have been?

Fifth, how did this get past dress rehearsal?

And finally… how did she do in the end? Because if she was any sort of finalist, I’d pay big bucks for video of the other contestants’ performances in the pageant talent segment.

Points to ponder.

October 14, 2007 at 5:17 pm 2 comments

Congratulations to “Evel” Dick

“Evel” Dick Donato, arguably one of the most reviled Big Brother contestants, won BB8 with a vote of 5 to 2. Many were hoping his daughter Daniele would win simply because she’s the lesser of two evils (or “Evels”), but I’m still waiting for someone to convince me her game was better than Dick’s. Winning PoVs (Daniele won five, tying Janelle) does not equal strategy.

That said, I have a few observations about the finale:

  • Joe—whom I used to hate—displayed humility and class in congratulating Dustin on his game. Dustin, did you have to be such a bitter, vindictive queen? Couldn’t you have just thanked him? You won $5000 (on top of your weekly stipend) and a trip to the Barbados, and then spent several weeks in the gorgeous sequester house. Get over it, and get over yourself.
  • Julie Chen, aka the Chenbot, was so much more loose tonight in her delivery. Why is she so robotic and wound up during the live eviction shows? Was she loaded tonight?
  • I really didn’t need to see Chicken George.
  • Howie has gotten really fat.
  • Janelle. Sweet, sweet Janelle. The most beloved contestant in BB history. I got a fever, and the only prescription is more Janelle!
  • Nick had his arm casually draped over the back of Joe’s chair. Probably didn’t mean anything, but I thought I’d point that out.
  • Eric was shitting bricks when the America’s Player twist was revealed. I’m sure he was only worried about Jessica’s reaction. I’m glad he didn’t propose to her, like Mike Boogie did to Krusta at the BB2 finale.

All in all, a pretty good season. The nemeses twist didn’t quite work out with Carol and Jessica, and Dustin and Joe didn’t generate any drama in the house, keeping their discussions private.

For next season, I’d rather see no twist at all than another lame one. This season would have turned out very, very differently had Eric not been forced to do the viewers’ bidding.

More anon, if I think of anything else to add. In the meantime, check out [the little spruce tree]!

September 18, 2007 at 9:38 pm 1 comment

Return of [the little spruce tree]

Recently pruned and looking better than ever, the inimitable, irrepressible, and irresistible Daniel Baylis is back for another season of “introspective ramblings and questionable attempts at humour” on his blog, [the little spruce tree].

I don’t know if I can top the plug I gave [tlst] back in March, when I said:

In my literature studies, I always appreciate a work that’s real and honest, a work that manages to convey great meaning through economy, clarity, and familiarity of style, rather than through heavy, florid turns of phrase… [Daniel’s writing] possesses that nearly inscrutable ability to convey depth of significance through the same economy, clarity, and familiarity of style that I value in literary texts. No matter what the message, I never feel weighed down or otherwise burdened by what I’m reading.

So don’t dawdle! Head on over now!

September 17, 2007 at 6:53 pm 1 comment


Spot on!

September 13, 2007 at 9:58 pm Leave a comment


Holy Mother of God. I know I have a snarky post in me somewhere. If it weren’t so late, and if I hadn’t spent the past three hours in a Literature of the Fin de siècle seminar, I’d do my usual Puck’s Prattle treatment. Maybe I’ll come up with something tomorrow. Let me sleep on it…

In the meantime, check out [the little spruce tree]!

September 12, 2007 at 10:59 pm 1 comment

Life imitates art

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) gets caught cottaging. The best part is the audiotape in which he tries to explain away his under-stall sexual overtures. It made me think of this series of Little Britain sketches in which MP Sir Norman Fry, flanked by his family, repeatedly finds himself in much the same position (har, har) as Craig.

August 30, 2007 at 9:19 pm 2 comments

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I am a student of Sociology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. I hold a degree in English Literature, also from Concordia.
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