Press Attacks Celebrity it Created
By: Rachel Marsden
When recently sprung serial sex slayer Karla Homolka inevitably starts cashing in on her megacelebrity, all the yellow journalists — these graduates of the “Tom Cruise School of Armchair Psychiatry” — had better be ready to suck up the sanctimonious shock and moral outrage as they’re hit with the backwash from this tabloid tsunami they created.
A Toronto Star columnist wrote this week: “[Homolka] effectively took the media hostage and ensured that her words, her pre-emptive spin, would appear on front page stories across the country.”
Homolka is responsible for a lot of despicable things, but lording over the media like she’s Ted Turner isn’t one of them.
And just who made Killer Barbie a star by writing endless pieces like this? You did!
Canada doesn’t have designated tabloid newspapers like the National Enquirer, but obviously we don’t need one. Some journalists are keen to scoot over and fill that void.
In the months leading up to Homolka’s release, we’ve been bombarded with amateur psychoanalysis, titillating tales of her prison love affairs, her jailhouse correspondence, dummied up images of potential disguises, pre-crime speculation as to when she’ll re-offend, and stories about how Canadians are terrified and threatening vigilante justice.
In her first post-release interview, Homolka announced that she’s looking forward to enjoying a Tim Horton’s iced cappuccino—a version of the hackneyed “I’m going to Disneyland!” used by Olympic gold medalists after the big win.
The story then became, “Will Karla kill Tim Horton’s, too?” (Don’t discourage her—at least that’s where all the cops hang out!)
It’s no wonder her partner-in-crime, Paul Bernardo, is rattling his cage and demanding equal media time: With Karlapalooza in full effect, and Homolka being featured in newspapers, tabloid television shows and talk shows across North America, you just can’t pay for marketing like that.
Cash-ins on the Karla craze are already underway: Homolka-related Internet domain names have been snatched up over the past few months. A feature film is set for release this fall. Books have been written. An Internet auction is selling a blonde doll with a paper bag over its head that reads: “Karla Homolka Murderess” and calling it the “Convicted Karla Homolka (how-togo-out-in-public) Doll.” The Associated Press reports that she’s one of the top online Google searches, right behind gossip rag darlings Angelina Jolie and Michael Jackson.
No doubt there are reasons for some folks in the media to have ventured so far beyond reporting the facts.
Maybe they thought their efforts would result in Homolka’s plea bargain being ripped up — setting a precedent that would render the Crown’s word completely worthless.
Maybe they figured they could get Homolka to pull a Martin Ferrier — the convicted violent sex offender who was released from prison into the Peel area, only to turn tail and ask a judge to put him back in so he could escape media harassment.
Homolka’s release was about as shocking as fruitcake at Christmas-time. In this country, murderers and rapists are released back into society. Apparently, Canadians like it that way — as evidenced by the fact that they keep voting the federal Liberals back into office in order to maintain the status quo.
If the media disliked the idea, they could have hounded the government over Homolka’s non-existent prison rehab efforts. They had 12 years to do this and didn’t bother getting off the bench until the game went into overtime.
Now that she is free after serving out her entire sentence, any not-so-veiled activist efforts on the part of the press are like using cobwebs to stop a speeding freight train.
If the media loathe the woman as much as they claim to, then they ought to stop playing the role of her publicity agent.
PUBLISHED: NATIONAL POST (July 9/05)
COPYRIGHT 2005 RACHEL MARSDEN