Casey Anthony epitomized something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on as I sat on my couch, eating Cocoa Puffs and smoking a bong, watching the coverage of her trial during a comfortably warm evening in the Summer of 2011.
There was something missing from my life at the time… I wasn’t conscious of it, but felt its weight all the same. It wasn’t that I was unhappy, I was certainly comfortable; I had a passionless career with the faux-achievement of a master’s degree, I had a fat girlfriend who was a crazy bitch but I loved her anyway, and I spent my free time feeling good… after all, life was about maximizing consumption while sleep-walking through minimal responsibility. The idea of ambition beyond this baseline, or the contribution of value to a community, were equally foreign and laughable to me.
But even still… alternating between video games, television, pornography, processed food, whimpering oxytocin, and marijuana left a fuzzy feeling on my brain that something wasn’t quite right, but I wasn’t quite ready to see it yet…
Casey’s story would never have worked as a piece of fiction, it wouldn’t have been believable. A pretty brunette gets knocked-up by a stranger on the Florida house party circuit and decides to keep the baby… and ends up missing the party lifestyle so much that she murders her own two-and-a-half year-old daughter to hit-up the party scene even harder than before.
A true story of dopamine addiction gone mad.
And as if to drive it into the realm of the surreal, in the month before her arrest she was so thrilled she had gotten away with the murder of her child that she got a tattoo to commemorate it.
A mother killing her child wasn’t something new- Andrea Yates carefully drowned each of her five children in a bathtub (and was acquitted by reason of insanity)- but what struck a chord was the frivolity of Casey’s motive.
Casey couldn’t give up the decisively post-modern college girl lifestyle of bingeing on drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity to the point where she murdered her own daughter when faced with motherly responsibility.
She killed to party.
The media coverage would have tried to convince you that Casey was an anomaly worthy of social crucifixion, that her story may have been filled with sound and fury but it ultimately signified nothing; Casey was merely a bad apple.
But what if Casey Anthony exemplified the first fully-realized post-modern woman; a woman so determined to break the shackles of civic duty, gender rigidity, and social expectation that she violently rebelled against the system… Yes, there was blood, but this is rebellion; this was a Feminist statement, and in ten-years young girls may look back at the courageous Casey Anthony as a forerunner of after-birth abortion (toddlercide?)… after all, she didn’t feel like being a mother anymore so she changed her mind; she wasn’t happy.
Casey Anthony’s story is symptomatic of a broken society. A culture which has cast aside duty and responsibility, replacing it with petty pleasure and obsessive narcissism. Individual experience over collective prosperity. And even if the average woman isn’t going to murder a child to preserve her college girl lifestyle, certainly meaning has been lost in a culture that only teaches consumption.