(First, some personal context: My dissertation topic will be on the phenomenon of inmate wildfire fighting. To prepare for this, I have four comprehensive exam topics that I’ll write in September, for which I’m preparing by reading tons of stuff about each topic. Two are relevant to this essay, and are probably why I am writing it to begin with. One comprehensive exam topic is called ‘Masculinity.’ The other is called ‘The Categorization of Criminals and Heroes.’)
About six months ago, I was on tumblr and saw that someone reblogged something from Hot and Busted. I clicked on the link and discovered that the website is an aggregation of hot guys’ (subjective to the owner of the website, I guess) mug shots. My friend, a fellow anthropologist, and I both noticed that the website mostly featured images of white males – the few black men were mostly celebrities, like Tyler the Creator and a historic mug shot of MLK Jr. We ruminated on it a little, were mildly disturbed by the existence of it, but concluded that at least the website’s owner was objectifying white criminality, rather than walk the much trodden black-guy-with-neck-tattoos-is-hot-because-he’s-bad territory. I noted that a lot of the dudes on this website had charges of drug possession, a few with other non-violent charges. A lot of them look stoned as hell in their mug shots. What I saw was mostly, on the spectrum of acceptable immorality, the type of crimes we can forgive.
A few days ago the mug shot of Jeremy Meeks went viral. As most people with the internet and/or TV know, he got caught in a multi-agency sting to arrest active gang members on weapons charges. After the Stockton Police Department Facebook page posted his mug shot (I could, and maybe should write an article just about this very action) and it garnered a viral-level amount of views and comments, the whole world had something – mostly pretty concise things like “dayuuummmn” or “ew no way” – to say about it. I suppose I’ll now include myself in that group.......
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