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Casey Anthony: Feeding the Beast
Look out world. Casey Anthony will be out of jail in less than a week; a free woman at last, rocketing headlong into pop culture infamy. The alchemy of a disaster. Will we transform the base metal that is Ms. Anthony into advertising gold, or in other terms, we will feed the beast?
Many believe that Casey got away with murder, and those of us who place a high premium on justice, are now faced with an existential crisis of sorts. Life just ain’t fair. As we grapple to understand our emotions, the media remains Casey centric. Where will she go, what will she do, and why do we care?
Casey Anthony is a simmering, sexy cauldron of mendacity; effectively spinning her web, pulling family members and friends into her labyrinth of lies. By the time that the police were contacted in regards to her daughter, Caylee’s, disappearance, Casey had a been living a life of falsehood for years. She had effectively convinced friends, family and her current boyfriend that she was gainfully employed, and used the services of the mysterious, “Zanny the Nanny,” proving herself to be the consummate pathological liar.
So, why all the lies? The answer is fairly straight forward. Casey Anthony is a sociopath and sociopaths don’t follow the rules. They make their own rules. In some sense, they are a different species from the rest of us, and intuitively, they know this. They reflect back at us what we want to see, carefully constructing a façade of what society deems normal and respectable. Casey realized that in order to be accepted by family and peers, she was expected to work and be a good, loving mother; therefore, she invented a job, and played the role of doting mommy. During the course of the trial, witness after witness attested to Casey’s healthy, loving relationship with her daughter. This should come as no surprise to anyone. Casey was merely mimicking the behavior of a good mother. She was a convincing actress, but as subsequent events have proven, her affection for little Caylee wasn’t genuine.
During the trial, the prosecution’s position was that Casey killed Caylee because Caylee was getting old enough to talk, but not old enough to join Casey in her carefully constructed web of lies. Casey’s house of cards was is peril. Soon enough the truth would come to light via the innocence of a toddler who didn’t understand the necessity to lie. Time was running out. I suspect that the prosecution was spot on. What was Casey going to do when Caylee began to talk? ‘Zanny? Who’s Zanny?’ Keep in mind, Casey wasn’t only lying to her parents; her friends had been duped as well. Her entire social circle was under the impression that she was gainfully employed and had a nanny. These were the people whom Casey sought to impress. As her verbal skills increased, Caylee would soon unwittingly tear a hole in the fabric of Casey’s existence, exposing her for the fraud she is. Caylee was now more than a mere inconvenience to Casey, she was threat. Thus, Casey disposed of the threat.
For the great majority of us, this is difficult to swallow. Most of us would die for our children, willingly. For Casey, it was survival mode, and when it came down to sacrificing her reputation and way of life versus telling the truth, Casey saved her own skin. In the end as it always was, and always will be, Casey first. The Machiavellian mama did the unthinkable because in her mind, “the ends justified the means.”
So, what next? Well, we have all seen this before. The book and movie deals, the cold blooded sociopath saying all the right things, transforming themselves from villain to victim on celluloid for all to see. She will bat her eyes, shed a tear, and some will buy it. To others, Casey is the archetypical evil woman. She fascinates us and speaks to our darker natures. We are at once attracted and repelled by her; transfixed by the horrific tableau that has been unfolding for the past three years. To a great extent, what happens next depends on us. We are the market, thus creating demand. If there is demand for a book, we have collectively invoked that demand. If Casey profits from the death of Caylee, we are all in some sense, complicit in her gain.
Will Casey change, or will she find herself involved in yet another imbroglio? Sociopaths don’t change; though some are very successful, holding positions of power or prestige in society. Some are able to mimic the rules of society in such a manner that they have never had any negative involvement with the law. If Casey stays out of trouble, it will be purely from a perspective of self preservation. A morality predicated on an ‘I don’t want to get caught or go to jail’ mentality. In Casey’s world, right and wrong based on a higher or more complex form of morality is not applicable. She may have learned a lesson, but that doesn’t mean that the leopard has changed its spots. It merely means that the leopard doesn’t want to land in jail again. Casey’s future actions will be dependent on the probability of getting away with it, risk and reward analysis. Only time will tell.
Casey Anthony is essentially no different than the small but destructive percentage of sociopaths living among us. Her story has captivated us because she is a pretty, middleclass young woman who appeared to have it all. Her appearance deceptively belies the repugnant nature of her psyche. In terms of physical appearance, she was blessed with a lucky strand of DNA; her character however, is lacking. Current research regarding sociopathy indicates that individuals are born with at the very least, a predisposition for the disorder. Casey was most likely born a sociopath, not made one by her circumstances in life.
We tend to look for someone or something to blame; the family, incest, an over bearing mother; overlooking the very nature of the beast. Monsters don’t always look like monsters, and child killers aren’t always the drooling, socially inadequate sex offender lurking in the alleyway. Sometimes they’re quite attractive and sometimes they’re even called mommy. In a culture obsessed with appearance that borders on the pathological, Ms. Anthony doesn’t match our schema of a monster or killer. This only adds to her rather morbid mystique.
Presently, there’s plenty of speculation regarding what Casey will do next. There are rumors of a book deal, a million dollar interview with Jerry Springer, and the most odious suggestion of all, a TV reality show starring the diva of deception herself. Doing what? I can’t conceive of anyone either watching or producing a reality show featuring Ms. Anthony, but if it comes to that, society is on the event horizon of stupidity.
As stated previously, we create the demand. Do we buy the book, watch the movie, feed the beast?