I was watching Elizabeth Smart on the Today Show yesterday morning. She spoke about the new memoir she wrote about her 2002 kidnapping that both shocked and confused everyone with access to a news network. I forget that it occurred more than 10 years ago and that Elizabeth is married and a whole adult by now, but it still struck me funny that during the whole interview she had this weird plastic Disney smile plastered on her face and I half-expected bluebirds to start fluttering around her head before she broke out into song. It was, as I tweeted, “eerie”.
I didn’t really follow the Smart case when the kidnapping first took place. I had graduated the year before and although I had a high school diploma I still wasn’t into all of that mature-adult-staying updated-on-current-events stuff. But if you were fulfilling your responsible adult duties at the time you may recall that the case involved a young Caucasian teen that was abducted from her Mormon family home one night in Salt Lake City. There’s harp playing (literally), a homeless prophet, sexual assault and possible Stockholm syndrome that all take place over a nine-month ordeal that ends up with Smart reuniting with her family. Although this was a family’s tragedy, the story was breaking news gold. Lifetime couldn’t have written this shit any better.
As I’m watching this Barbie-esque blonde speak so articulately and self-composed to Savannah Guthrie, I found it extremely difficult to be sympathetic. In fact my first reaction was suspicion. Instead of applauding this young woman for being a survivor and moving past this traumatizing ordeal I found myself wondering if her family had set the whole thing up for publicity. I wondered if somehow the media had a hand in it because every year or so America needs a story of good vs. evil to believe in so we can all unite against a common enemy: terrorists, pedophiles, the debt ceiling. Every blogger has an opinion, every news network has ratings to keep, every editor has the version of the truth that will pull in the most viewers and thanks to all of this I have trust issues with TV. I don’t believe ANYTHING I see on TV.