I actually had at least two different posts in semi-stages of completion heading into the end of this week. “I’m in good shape,” I said to myself. “No problem this time around. Just, which post do I go with?”
Until yesterday happened.
Actually, what happened happened two days ago. On that day, International Talk Like A Pirate Day, border agents cried out, “Avast! Prepare to be boarded!” to singer/songwriter, Fiona Apple. They climbed aboard her tour bus and found some amount of hashish, which Apple claimed as hers, and arrested her.
The news hit yesterday morning, all sorts of jokes going around playing off the lyrics of Apple’s song, Criminal, from way back in 97. That didn’t bother me. The jokes were obvious, and my world wasn’t rocked by the arrest: I like her music, but wouldn’t consider myself a ‘fan’, exactly. What happened later, however, did bother me.
Sometime in the afternoon, the deejay at one of my favorite radio stations (a deejay who actually featured Apple during the lunch hour last week) posted Apple’s mugshot on the station’s Facebook page. The Criminal jokes being all used up, she commented on Apple’s height–or lack thereof–instead. Not too many people commented, and the comments were largely neutral or mildly supportive of Apple, but the whole thing rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it was the TMZ watermark across the mugshot.
Now, I’m no celebrity apologist. I’m not going to defend Apple, or claim she was set up or unfairly targeted. Nor am I going to turn this into a soapbox about the drug laws in this country. Simply put, she broke the law. She made a bad decision, and now she has to pay the consequences, which will include lost revenue (I understand she’s already had to cancel one concert), the possibility of prison time, and public ridicule. I wouldn’t worry about her alienating her fan base; fans are pretty forgiving. Apple is going to have to suffer the consequences of her actions, and that’s the way it should be. What bothers me, though, is that mugshot. My initial reaction, upon seeing it, was, “How did they get that? That’s just not right.”
It’s silly, of course. We’ve seen celebrity mugshots before: Nick Nolte, Robert Downey, Jr., Mel Gibson, Lindsay Lohan, Lindsay Lohan, Lind– err, sorry. Anyway, it’s nothing new. None of those mugshots bothered me all that much; perhaps Apple’s was sort of the last straw for me, or maybe there was something different about hers, I don’t know. Anyway, I know that mugshots are part of the public record. Depending on the criminal, it may be the only photo readily available for the news. What bothered me, though, was how exploitative this felt, and how unnecessary. Maybe because it wasn’t in service of the news.
In a curious case of convergence, later in the day, this story splashed its way across my home page, and this bothered me even more than Apple’s rather pitiful mugshot. The short end of it is, if you’ve ever been arrested for anything, spitting on the sidewalk in Sheboygan, DUI, driving without insurance, whatever, there’s a good chance your mugshot is out there, prominently-displayed on one of those websites. Think about that for a minute. Again, it’s a matter of public record, but it just feels wrong to me, especially when said websites will remove it–for a fee. That feels even more exploitative to me than using Mel Gibson’s or Lindsay Lohan’s or Fiona Apple’s mugshot to drive traffic.