March 13, 2012, - 4:44 pm
I’ve noticed an annoying trend, lately. But I seem to be the only one who finds it disturbing: former hostages and kidnapees seeking fame and seemingly desperate for attention. Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart are Exhibits A and B. They’ve been free for some time, and yet they won’t go away quietly, to no benefit for the rest of us.
Tonight, Dugard, the woman who was kidnapped for 18 years and raped, will make her gazillionth appearance on ABC News. According to reports, she’ll “catch audiences up with how her life is going now,” as if we really, really need to know. I’m glad she’s safe and I know this might sound insensitive, but I really don’t care “how her life is going now.” This morning, I didn’t wake up and say, “Gee, I wonder how Jaycee Dugard is doing right now.” If you did, you don’t have a life. And you probably need help.
I feel for both these young women who were kidnapped and raped. But now they are safe. And they really need to move on. It used to be that victims of horrendous crimes either went quietly away to live their lives, thankful to have survived. Or they crusaded against their perpetrators and to change laws to help future potential victims. Dugard and Smart have chosen a new path: seeking to be Kardashians.
They aren’t the first to try to turn their kidnappings and captivities into fame. Patty Hearst, after her stint with the SLA, was quite the celebrity on the party circuit in the ’70s and ’80s, photographed at “Studio 54″ and making special guest appearances on TV shows. But the enterprises and branding by Dugard and Smart make her seem like small potatoes. You would think that people whose lives and privacy were taken from them would react by trying to take that privacy and modesty back. But you would be wrong. They want you to know everything about them.
In a tawdry and cheap (though not in dollar terms) move, Elizabeth Smart sold exclusive photos of her wedding to People magazine for a cover story and multi-page spread. She’s graced the magazine’s cover at least FIVE(!) times. And she has a contract with ABC News, reportedly a six-figure deal, to be their “kidnapping commentator,” which is kind of absurd, since she has zero expertise in the matter beyond her own uniquely bizarre experience. Smart also tours the country in high-paid lectures on how to keep your kids safe. But how would she know? She was kidnapped because her upstairs bedroom window wasn’t locked. “Lock your windows” isn’t exactly Einstein-esque anti-kidnapping advice, and it won’t fill an hour or even a half-hour speech. She’s not a law enforcement expert and not someone I’d seek out for advice on how to protect kids.
At a Birmingham, Michigan appearance, Smart wore more make-up than the prostitutes who walk Eight Mile Road a few miles away, and her way-too-short skirt wasn’t much different than what they wear. Here’s my anti-kidnapping tip: don’t dress and make up your daughters to look like hookers when they’re just eleven or younger. Remember JonBenet Ramsey? (Even her father is still doing the rounds about his tragedy, but yet he said and did nothing as his wife dressed the girl like a stripper from the Hustler Club.) But, hey, I was never kidnapped, so you should pay no attention to my advice, as I’m book-less and People-Cover-less. So what do I know, right?
The pretense that Smart and Dugard are doing this to help others is phony. They are doing it to feed their bank accounts and fame-seeking appetites. They won’t stop a single kidnapping or help a lone child about to be snatched. It’s just baloney to claim otherwise.
It’s not like either Smart or Dugard needs the money. Smart is from a wealthy family, and her father got a big book deal to write about her. Presumably, he shared some of that with her. Dugard got a $20 million settlement from the State of California. And that’s in addition to the settlements she’s gotten or is still seeking from other parties. She also reportedly made seven figures from her best-selling book and an exclusive ABC News hour-long interview show promoting the book. With all of this money, it’s not that she “needs” to remain in the public eye. It’s that she’s seeking it. Craves it.
Enough is enough. Like I said, I’m sorry these two had to endure the tragic events that took them away from their families and lives. But now they are back, and we don’t need to hear how they are doing or what they are doing now. It’s kind of sick that they are creating (or answering) some sort of weird prurient curiosity about how a kid who was raped years ago is doing. But anything goes in the Facebook/Twitter/Make Me an Instant Celebrity era in which we now live. And nobody–not even supposedly modest victims of terrible crimes and their professional, money-seeking handlers–has the scruples to say no. The cha-ching and allure of being famous is a siren call they’re just too weak and unclassy too ignore.
It’s time for these formerly private citizens to return to their private lives. Now that they are free, they should try to do something useful and productive with their lives, raise families (Dugard has two children), and quietly recede from the headlines and TV interviews.
It’s bad enough that we have reality TV fixtures like the Kardashians and the fake “Real Housewives.” We don’t need the “Real Kidnapees of America” added to the mix.
Move on, women.
Tags: desperately seeking fame, Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard, kidnapping victims desperately seek fame