i Need Media

i Need Media

Crime and punishment or what I learned from Lifetime

By Matthew Singer 07/11/2013

You know we’ve entered the dog days of summer when I start watching Lifetime movies.

Actually, that’s not accurate. I’ll watch a Lifetime movie in any season, really. Normally, it’s out of sheer boredom and happenstance. This time, though, it was totally on purpose. I made a point of setting a scheduled recording for Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret. I did so for a few reasons, mainly that after seeing a clip on The Soup in which an underwater blow job jump-cuts to a baptism, I knew this was something I had to see. But also because, up until the news of the guilty verdict in her murder case swept across Twitter in May, I had no idea who Jodi Arias was. If you’ve read this column at all — shoot, if you’re reading it right now — you know I’m a shameless purveyor of trash, but I draw the line at Nancy Grace fodder. Thus, I never seem to know about these tabloid trials until they’re over. I figured this film, apparently completed within a month after the trial ended, would be a good way to catch up on one of the year’s pop culture hot topics. It’s not just a way to pass a sweltering evening cooped up in the apartment. It’s educational.

Here’s what I learned:

Jodi Arias is the worst murderer ever. At least, she was until Aaron Hernandez shot a dude and left a shell casing in his rental car (allegedly). She still might be worse. I’m not referring to the severity of her crime, though she did stab her boyfriend 4 zillion times, slash his throat, and then shoot him in the head after he had already expired. She’s the worst because she did all that, took photos of herself doing it, then hid the camera by tossing it in a washing machine with his bloody clothes, where it was discovered by Detective Batista from Dexter — appropriate casting, given that even Miami Metro, the police force that never, ever correctly solves a murder, would have no problem locking up this case.

Jodi Arias is like coffee. According to the screenwriters, Arias’ seduction of Travis Alexander, a motivational speaker and supposedly devout Mormon, featured a lot of double entendres involving that most forbidden of fruits for devotees of Joseph Smith. I suppose that’s a better way of conveying Alexander’s “addiction” to her than referencing the whole “magic underwear” thing.

Jodi Arias is a hacker. She broke into Alexander’s computer and sent incriminating photos to his boss, though the film never bothers to reveal how. Also, locking cell phones must go against Mormon philosophy, as Arias repeatedly sent threatening texts to his female friends without him bothering to just put a damn password on it.

Jodi Arias is crazy. Honestly, there probably isn’t a whole lot of nuance to be mined from any sort of crime worthy of a Lifetime movie, but Dirty Little Secret doesn’t bother with empathy for anyone involved in this thing, painting Arias as an obsessive sociopath and Alexander as a sap who got himself killed because his dick consistently won out over his brain. Then again, if this movie had a working head of its own, I don’t know if I ever would’ve bothered with it in the first place.

I Need Media is a biweekly media column by Matthew Singer. Follow him on Twitter@mpsinger.


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