Raymond Hall/GC Images
In the early days of 2020, when we were optimistic about vaccines and our new president and the general health and stability of superhero franchises, there was a meme called the Yasification trend. This originally involved taking photographs of prominent historical figures – for example Alexander Hamilton, or Kramer. seinfeld – and running them through a filter, making them look heavily botoxed, contoured and filtered, just like your most insecure friend’s vacation stories.
The fetishization trend was ridiculous in the sense that it was obviously ridiculously skewering oppressive beauty norms and the structures that maintain them, such as Instagram and Facetune. But it was also funny because it highlighted how incredible it can be, in a post-truth, post-AI-panic world, to take something in a very specific way and completely change its long-held meaning. is easier. The joke wasn’t just that it’s funny to see the Founding Fathers with false eyelashes and bronzer. It was also a way for us to shed light on the uncomfortable reality that everything we thought we knew really means the same thing now.
Nearly three years later, the trend of eulogization has largely fallen by the wayside. But we’re seeing its resurgence with the rebranding of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a 32-year-old woman who was released on December 28 after serving seven years of a 10-year prison sentence for allegedly murdering her abusive mother. . ,
The daughter of single mother Claudinia “Dee Dee” Blanchard, Gypsy Rose grew up visiting various doctors and hospitals, with Dee Dee claiming that Gypsy was suffering from various illnesses, including leukemia and muscular dystrophy. As a result, she spent her life in unbearable pain, having to undergo numerous unnecessary interventions and surgeries, including the extraction of several teeth. Various experts have since speculated that Dee Dee suffered from Munchhausen-by-proxy, a rare psychological disorder in which parents pretend their child is sick to gain sympathy and attention.
According to Gypsy, Dee Dee kept her locked up, monitored her communications, and confined her to a wheelchair during her childhood and adolescence. After meeting her first boyfriend, Nicholas Bodejohn, on the Internet, Bodejohn and Gypsy plot to murder Dee Dee, with Bodejohn stabbing her. In 2015, Gypsy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, while Bodejohn is currently serving a sentence of life in prison for first-degree murder. She was eventually released three years early after marrying husband Ryan Anderson behind bars.
The Gypsy’s Story, as documented in the Erin Lee Carré documentary mother dead and beloved (2017, and fantasy TV series Act (2019, There was intense national interest, as well as a wave of sympathy for the Gypsies themselves. This in itself is not surprising: with its sordid elements of psychopathic mothers, medical deception, and illicit sex (Gypsy and Bodejohn reportedly had intercourse for the first time in a movie-theater bathroom during a screening of Disney’s ) Cinderella), The story was crafted for true crime lovers. It was also not surprising that the general public sympathized with Gypsy, who had by all accounts suffered years of unimaginable suffering at the hands of her mother.
What was somewhat surprising, however, was how much the general public leaned into that sympathy. In the months leading up to her release from Chillicothe State Prison, true crime creators on TikTok began a sort of unofficial countdown, making fan edits of Blanchard set to Nicki Minaj or comparing her to Emma Roberts who was released from prison. Was coming out. scream queens, Some of these were more obviously tongue-in-cheek than others: “Gypsy Rose is being released on the 28th because the court said she ate 4+4=,” a funny, albeit perhaps mathematical, take. Harder than, the caption on the video said. However, others, such as the video shot outside, were more serious, reflecting the general perception of Blanchard as an unjustly imprisoned folk hero.
Once she was actually released, a media blitz followed her, obsessively reporting on her post-prison trip to buy new shoes and her (denied) request to go to a Kansas City Chiefs game so that He could meet Taylor Swift. (Blanchard’s trajectory as Swifty has spawned a mini-press cycle of its own, with outlets gathering hollywood reporter Interview in which she reveals her favorite Swift songs. For what it’s worth, they’re “Karma” and “Eyes Open.”) As part of a press tour promoting her upcoming Lifetime series, Gypsy has become a tabloid staple, with outlets breathlessly following her. The comments made have everything covered. Her husband’s Instagram (“They’re jealous because you’re rocking my world every night,” she wrote in response to negative commenters, adding that his “D is fire”) revelation, which she especially had shared People, That she learned to use tampons in jail.
Gypsy Rose Blanchard has served her time and expressed remorse for murdering her mother. He said, “Nobody will ever hear me say I’m glad she died or that I’m proud of what I did.” People, “I regret it every day.” He is free, and he is entitled to do whatever he wants with his freedom. If she wants to go on TikTok and do Storytime about her life promoting Drunk Elephant, or collaborate with Duolingo Owl or something, she has every right to do that, as does anyone Who suddenly finds himself with a bigger platform. If anyone has the right to make weird posts about her husband’s dick on social media, it’s a woman who has been literally and metaphorically imprisoned for most of her life.
However, those who have decided to ban it create more problems. Rather than flee with Godejohn or report her abusive mother to the authorities, Blanchard plotted her murder – a crime that is easy to understand given the circumstances, but difficult to defend. Blanchard herself has expressed this repeatedly in interviews, telling Dr. Phil years ago that her mother “didn’t deserve what happened to her” and that she wished Dee Dee had gone to jail instead. But blaming Gypsy Rose Blanchard also raises a larger issue: We, as a culture, take a highly inconsistent approach to criminality. Most of the time, we deny it; Sometimes, we try to make sense of the pointless by creating our own narratives, making heroes of people who would otherwise be considered villains. Both of these approaches miss the point.
Gypsy Rose Blanchard is far from the first criminal, alleged or otherwise, to be hailed as a folk hero on the Internet. Perhaps the most recent example is George Santos, the far-right former congressman who was essentially expelled for lying and alleged campaign fundraising and credit card fraud, who has since admitted to charging $350 on Cameo. Have inspired. Because Santos is fearless about her desire for attention and well-versed in pop cultural vernacular, she has managed to erase her history of greed, almost comically compulsive lying, and disgusting transphobic and anti-Semitic comments from the public imagination. Have created a cult. It also stars Anna Delvey, a convicted fraudster who tried to trick the art world into believing she was a German heiress, leading to a (bad) Netflix show and an (even worse) art career. Fell. When I attended a show at Delve in 2022, I spoke to countless fans who saw them as a modern art project in their own right, a work of art building itself out of the ashes of a brutal post-capitalist system. Self-starter. One woman described me as an entrepreneur who was “stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Of course, there is no evidence that this is true, nor is there any evidence to suggest that anything Delvey or Santos did, or is accused of doing, was intended to benefit anyone other than themselves . Yet both have achieved online babygirl status, especially among young people or marginalized individuals who struggle with the strictures of white capitalist society. The thinking seems to be that because our world is set up in a way that actively works to oppress those who are free, anyone who manages to break free is worthy of worship, even if it means doing so. Whatever their reasons or whether they cause more harm. Better than. They’re right about the first part. They are wrong about the second one.
Gypsy differs from Anna Delvey or George Santos in that she is seen one-sidedly and accurately as a victim. But what we should have understood by now about victims is that they are complex. They don’t have to be charismatic or funny or smart or decent people to become victims. The thing about victims is, sometimes their stories can’t be easily revisited through a Lifetime series, or redeemed through Zara-sponsored TikTok content. Sometimes, their stories are simply tragic. And the thing about victims is that their situation doesn’t stop them from creating more victims.
There was at least one clearly identifiable victim in Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s crime: her mother. She must figure out how to deal with the resulting trauma for the rest of her life, and she can do so as she wishes. But no matter how much filter we put on that reality, how much we fudge it with Facetune or make it look like the Kardashians, that sad and fundamental truth isn’t going to change.