You can’t walk into a corner store these days without the police blotter newspaper slapping you in the face. What was originally designed as a shameful deterrent to criminals has become something like a badge of honor. Who else is buying these papers, little old ladies trying to keep their neighborhoods safe? Right.
It used to be that sex sells. Now it’s mugshots. If mugshots didn’t sell, my local ABC affiliate wouldn’t rotate them in the marginalia of their home page. The guy who shoplifted a six pack of beer is news? Why not post a link to the story and let me choose to glorify that person by staring at their mugshot. I’ll tell you why, because mugshots are like train wrecks. We can’t take our eyes off of them. And in the business of keeping eyeballs on a site, sensationalistic images do the trick.
Why else would CNN use this image as their hook for the story on the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Arizona? The fact that this asshole was able to project his giddy, murderous enthusiasm to the world, is like pissing on the victims. And it reinforces how fucked up we are as a society of humans that we allow ourselves to be manipulated this easily by the media.