Why Is The Hollywood Treatment Assigned To White People Who Are Criminals
Not too long ago — I wrote a piece about how the media instinctively makes committing a crime seem almost appealing when reporting about how the offspring of A-listers use their privilege to create chaos and mayhem.
The subjects were Jake Penn (son of Sean Penn and Robin Wright) and his model girlfriend. Actually the perpetrators were described as “models” — as if that fact was direly relevant to a story about two offenders were arrested on drug charges and subsequently released — which wouldn’t have been the case if they were a Black couple with no savings account.
The mugshot was what got my attention:
They look lovely don’t they? You could honestly forget that they were arrested and assume the pic is for casting call or anything glamorous and Hollywood-like. And that’s when it occurred to me that media does in fact help to shape the narrative of what we deem criminal and what is generally regarded as acceptable behavior even when it’s anything but that.
I think about the greatest athlete in the world — Serena Williams — and how she’s not only spent her career being the best that ever did it — but she’s also been forced to defend her honor against a much lesser talent who was actually convicted of doping.
Maria Sharapova — has written a book where she details how in awe she was of the Venus and Serena — and of course having the opportunity to play against them was a dream come true. Her matches with Serena are notable not because of who won — but it’s all about the hurt feelings and the White victimhood that Sharapova has always clung to which she included in her book.
But — what’s even more fascinating is the way outlets treat the Black woman and the White woman in this scenario. Due to the damning label of “the angry Black woman” and how that is consistently used to demonize women of color — we’ve become accustomed to the image of the innocent Blonde haired and blue-eyed angel — who is being needlessly attacked by the dark-skinned nemesis with a shitty attitude.
Every picture that showcases both Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams — gives the impression that Sharapova is the doe-eyed beauty who is being punished by Williams who is obviously jealous of the White woman with more viable currency. That was proven weeks ago at a press conference during the French Open — when a clueless reporter suggested that Williams was possibly “intimidated” by Sharapova’s “model looks” — which explains their legendary “rivalry.”
The historical coddling of White women by the media and the system that is responsible for criminalizing Black people with content and images that match our tragic circumstances is costing lives.
That’s why it’s hard to ignore the warning signs that are varied and come in the form of a White faux-heiress named Anna Delvey whose prison name is Anna Sorokin.
I read the New York magazine story that featured a vividly seductive shot of the blue-eyed and raven-haired prankster who swindled a roster of victims that were friends — business acquaintances and top-tier establishments — and ended up with a staggering debt that totaled $275,000.
The story of how she charismatically got what she wanted by batting her lush eyelashes is quite fascinating. I mean it literally reads like an engrossing novel — as if the young woman at the center of the shit storm is a fictionalized version of a fantastical tale that was conceived by someone of privilege — who has the time and experience to concoct the specifics.
It was fascinating to read because I was drawn to the delivery and how it romanticized the actions of a street thug — who looks like an Instagram model and therefore has all the characteristics of an intriguing protagonist.
As riveting as the details are — we seem to be forgetting that she’s a criminal who calculated how to protect her ability to rob people in order to maintain her upper-class lifestyle. We are supposed to be mesmerized by this extra long essay that was constructed to lure the creativity of the likes of Shonda Rhimes — who is now set to produce a Netflix series about the White woman who was White enough to believe that she could get away with bribery and corruption.
If a Black woman had attempted to do what “Anna Delvey” did — there wouldn’t have been the reception that White women who behave badly typically receive. The image of her wouldn’t heighten her prettiness — as a way to deepen the mystery and create the impression of how “she was seductive enough to almost get away with it.”
And there would certainly not be the Hollywood treatment applied to a Black woman who is accused of blatant thievery. It’s interesting how producers are willing to invest in stories about White women who want to live as Black women breaking the law or White women who who luxuriously break the law and end up at Rikers Island where they slyly find ways to keep their Instagram profile active.
Yep! Even after Anna Delvey reverted back to plain old Anna Sorokin — with her reign as the sought-after New York socialite coming to a dramatic end — and a new high-security abode without the glitzy zip code for security — outlets and observers still can’t get enough of the White woman whose Whiteness keeps her clean — despite her scummy disposition.
No — Sorokin hasn’t posted anything on her Instagram page since she was deposited in jail— awaiting trial. But — the mere fact that this is something that was investigated is the reason why I always ponder why White people get the Hollywood treatment for their criminal behavior.
Why can’t someone in Shondaland suggest more appropriate real life stories that are more riveting — and carry the symbol of what makes our society a death match for players who are engaged against their will.
Diamond Reynolds is a Black woman who has been fighting for her life since she and her baby daughter witnessed the shooting death of her boyfriend — in their car. She uploaded the gruesome incident on Facebook — and we all watched the bloody affair and overheard the soft plea from the back seat.
Reynolds was eventually awarded a healthy sum of money for her troubles — but that can’t ever compensate for the brutal loss of loved ones or the irrevocable damage that is exacted on the psyche — not to mention the little girl who will grow up — deeply fractured.
There’s also Sandra Bland who was terrorized by a state trooper of a traffic violation. She was cruelly yanked out of her vehicle — repeatedly pummeled to the ground — before she was thrown into a cell where she died three days later — at the age of twenty-eight.
Where are these stories?
It may not seem like a big deal to commission the rights to a real-life stunner that will definitely provide financial rewards to the young woman who lived it — but the messaging is utterly fucked up.
This climate dangerously regulates Black lives as expendable and lately — there’s the reality of how Black women aren’t exempt from the brutality of White cops — who pounce on us with extreme force and almost wrestle the clothes off our backs — in full view of asshole gawkers.
As a Black woman it’s infuriating to witness the “relatable” narrative that is routinely assigned to White people who break the law. And if they’re interesting enough to sell their story to the highest bidder — even better.
There’s no way to avoid the temptation of a great story — and as creative — I totally get the process of recognizing the profitable properties of something that contains all the ingredients of success.
But — in this climate of racial strife that’s propelled by the endorsement of White supremacy — which has encouraged White people to maximize their privilege with the assistance of law enforcement — we can’t afford to be blinded by the subtle methods that are implemented to maintain the status quo.
The Netflix series about the White woman who did bad things for fun will be a huge triumph and perhaps give birth to other replicants who will view her as a dope ass heroine.
Meanwhile — the tale of Black women who overcome the unimaginable and live to tell about it are ready to share it with the world.
All you have to do is ask.
Update: There is an upcoming film on the life of Sandra Bland that will explore the circumstances leading to her arrest and untimely death: