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American Aesthetic And The 'Handsome' Felon Epidemic

Sara Newman |
June 21, 2014 | 8:05 p.m. PDT

Deputy Editor

"Wow! He's too sexy for jail." (Twitpic/Fox News)
"Wow! He's too sexy for jail." (Twitpic/Fox News)
Over the past few years we've been moving toward a more visual culture. We watch movies rather than reading books, feel a compulsive need to instagram every meal or sunset and, apparently, we’re even more willing to accept felons if they're attractive. 

In the latest display of societal vanity, Jeremy Meeks has become America's most unlikely sweetheart after his mug shot went viral Thursday morning. 

On Wednesday, the Stockton Police Department posted the mug shots of Meeks and three other men they had taken into custody a multi-agency raid that included help from the FBI, U.S. marshal’s office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a countywide gang task force.

Along with the mug shots, the Facebook post about the arrest describes Meeks as "a 30 year old man, convicted felon, arrested for felony weapon charges." But many people have chosen to ignore that. 

Instead many people have spent the past few days glorifying Meeks, fixating on his “model-like” face, rather than his criminal record.

READ MORE: Sir Alex Ferguson: The Imperfect Role Model Getting Off The Hook? 

That Jeremy is so hott... Wow! He's too sexy for jail," commented one woman beneath the mug shot.

Arrests typically don't lead to modeling and acting gigs... or at least they aren't supposed to. (Twitpic/EliteDaily)
Arrests typically don't lead to modeling and acting gigs... or at least they aren't supposed to. (Twitpic/EliteDaily)
"Why are people getting so offended by this,” wrote a male commenter. “Dude be hot. End of story, his criminal vibe makes him hotter lol.”

Clearly, though, there is nothing to “laugh out loud” about when it comes to the Weston Ranch Operation Ceasefire Enforcement Mission that led to Meeks’s arrest. He, along was three other men, was arrested in response to an alarming increase in shootings and robberies

This was no mere D.U.I. or speeding offence. Meeks in being held in jail because authorities believe that he presents a serious threat to the well-being of others. 

But despite the seriousness of his alleged offences, Meek’s “good looks” have inspired over 90,000 people to like his mug shot, over 60,000 people to join a Facebook fan page in his honor and over 170 people to pledge nearly $3,000 toward Meek’s bail.

The three other men arrested along with Meeks have received no such attention. Some people have decided that Terry Bailey “is hot too” but not as “cute as his friend.”

But since when does attractiveness determine guilt, since when do we choose who to arrest and who to rally for based on who has dreamier eyes?

The fan pages and objectifying comments have furthered people’s inclination to see Meeks as eye candy, not as someone with a criminal record and felony weapon charges. 

READ MORE: Guns: What Can We Do About Them? 

People have gone so far as to photoshop images of “America’s most handsome felon” as a male model, ignoring the facts to suit their own fantasies. 

"You need to be on the big screen!!!!” wrote another woman beneath Meeks’s mug shot. “Not too late. You are [s]till young. Hope some producer will give you a chance!!!!!!" 

Surely the idea of forgiving people like Mark Wahlberg and Jay-Z for their criminal pasts is nothing new, but the idea that being arrested can be a catapult to fame is sickening. 

Parents are constantly trying to dissuade their kids from going through “a bad boy phase,” but now it’s time for the grown ups to take their own advice and stop oogling the mug shots.

Contact Deputy Editor Sara Newman here. Follow her on Twitter here



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