Be brutally honest; have any of you ever wished for five minutes alone, in a locked room, with someone like Casey Anthony?
For those of you who are just now peeking out from under your rocks, Casey Anthony is probably the most hated woman in America…possibly the world. Casey Anthony is a resident of Orlando, Florida who was accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony.
Her televised trial was described by Time Magazine as “the social media trial of the century.“ It was covered voraciously by almost every television, radio and internet news agency on the planet, and was crucial to Nancy Grace’s maniacal rants for a very long time.
I’ll keep this summary of the case as brief as possible, which is difficult because my minor in college was Criminology, and there was a mountain of evidence that pointed to this woman’s guilt…literally…400 items were entered into court records by the Prosecution.
Caylee Anthony was reported missing by her maternal grandmother on July 16, 2008, after she had not seen the child for 31 days (no, that isn’t a typo). The grandmother, Cindy Anthony, also stated that Casey Anthony’s car smelled like “a dead body.” Did I mention that both Casey and Caylee shared a residence with Cindy? As well as George Anthony, Caylee’s grandfather?
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When questioned by police, Ms. Anthony created a ridiculous story involving a kidnapping by a fictitious nanny. She was detained and arrested on lesser charges while the State developed its case. She was granted bail and released on several occasions. She was even offered limited immunity, if she would cooperate with authorities in finding Caylee’s body. She refused the offer.
Casey Anthony was eventually charged with aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child. Her trial began in May 2011 and ended on July 5, 2011, when she was acquitted of those charges. Instead, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer.
Help me here…does that mean that she lied to police about doing what she said she didn’t do?
Given credit for time served, Casey Anthony was released from custody on July 17th. She spent less time behind bars than her child spent on this earth.
Cases like this have definitely contributed to society’s lack of faith in the criminal justice system. Caylee Anthony was, for a while, America’s little girl. People were outraged when her killer was set free. We wanted justice. We wanted retribution. We wanted blood. We wanted someone like the fictional Dexter Morgan to emerge from the shadows and exact the penalty that Caylee’s mother deserved.
For those who are unfamiliar (squeamish) with the (ingenious) Showtime original series, Dexter, the name of the “Dark Defender” is (sadly) meaningless. Based on the series of novels by Jeff Lindsay, the character of Dexter Morgan (brilliantly portrayed by Michael C. Hall) is an employee of the fictional Miami Metro Police Department, Homicide Division (coincidentally close to Ms. Anthony’s residence in Orlando). His area of expertise is blood spatter analysis, which is appropriate since his character was “born in blood,” when he witnessed his mother’s murder (I’ll omit the gory details) at the age of three.
Fortunately, young Dexter was adopted by Harry Morgan, the police officer who found him at the crime scene. When Harry discovers the lil’ scamp butchering neighborhood pets, he decides to help channel that bloodlust into something a bit more productive. Thus “The Code of Harry” was created. Although a bit complex in its intricacies, the code follows two basic, ironclad principals: Dexter must only kill those who are, beyond any doubt, guilty of murder, but who (like Casey Anthony) escape punishment within the legal system; and he must meticulously dispose of all evidence so he is never caught.
By day, the grown-up Dexter Morgan helps track killers and by night he seeks out those who deserve his wrath. He does his homework and stalks his prey, pouncing when the time is right, ridding Miami’s sunny shores of human flotsam. When Dexter puts someone on “his table,” in a “kill-room,” the only thing that will remain is a drop of their blood, which he takes (on a glass slide) for his collection.
Mind you, the “victims” in this series are more than deserving of a good dismemberment; child-killers, people who dabble in human-trafficking, and serial killers of a lesser kind…you get the idea.
So, what is the fascination with this blood-spatter-expert-turned-serial-killer? Is it not morally wrong for anyone to take a life, or are there certain exceptions to the rule? If you base your answer on the viewer demographics, it’s a resounding, “yes!”
The pilot which aired on October 1, 2006 attracted 603,000 viewers, slaughtering several other Showtime original programs. The encore, which aired one hour later, drew 443,000, for a total of 1,046,000 viewers (Showtime’s highest ratings since 2004). Even the edited version, aired by CBS on February 17, 2008 was seen by 8.1 million viewers. There are similar numbers in the UK and Australia. Dexter also crosses generational boundaries, with audiences ranging from 18-54 years of age. The audience is mostly males, but has a decent share of female fans.
Dexter has been a marketing phenomenon and in the space of only five seasons has become a pop-culture icon. For instance, while shopping at Toys-R-Us this very afternoon (a day before Dexter opens its sixth season on Showtime), I asked a female store clerk where I could find Sonic the Hedgehog toys. I normally avoid sales clerks like the Plague, but being middle-aged and childless the store is akin to Middle Earth for me.
Somehow, the conversation veered onto the subject of Dexter and how we’ve both been in withdrawal since season five ended. In the middle of the Barbie aisle, we exchanged excited laughter as we shared our favorite Dexter moments. Finally, she sadly informed me that all of the Dexter action figures had sold out. Bummer…they are on my Christmas list again this year.
Indeed, the show has spawned collectibles of every kind, which are in high demand. Facebook has been buzzing for the past month, as we addicts impatiently await the launch of the Dexter app Slice of Life (a reference to Dexter Morgan’s boat, which plays an integral part in his life). The game is set to start on Monday, October 3rd.
Once again, I am happy to have lived for the past 45 years, because I have witnessed huge transitions in media. In the 1970s, our television heroes were the proverbial “good guys.” Over the years, however, reality has crept into mainstream media and now threatens to massacre any programming which doesn’t include loud-mouthed, large-chested, orange-tinted, dwarflike strumpets (I’m looking at you, Snooki) or bi-polar, D-List celebrities with drug habits (hello, Sean Young). We are constantly assaulted by shows featuring real life criminals and their adventures with law enforcement. We have become desensitized to the plight of the victims, but every so often a case like the Anthony abomination comes along and reawakens our sense of rectitude.
Even if you aren’t a deeply demented Dexter devotee, I’m willing to bet that, every so often, you silently wish for a Dark Defender.