Nancy Grace, badass with sass or bigot?

BY DI ARTS STAFF | APRIL 01, 2009 7:30 AM

Judge, jury, executioner, or all-out bitch? Two staffers debate the virtues of public frenemy No. 1: Nancy Grace.

I love Nancy Grace.

And yes, I already know what you’re thinking: That woman is a rancid bitch.

My response: Well, duh.

I’m not afraid or ashamed to proclaim my very unhealthy obsession with the outspoken Lady Justice sidekick, victims’ rights advocate, and all-around badass who says what she damn well pleases to whomever she wants.

She is, indeed, a bitch. But this is far from an insult.

Who are you to diss her, anyway? You must be insecure because she has a better wardrobe — you’re obviously jealous of all that turquoise jewelry. And besides, do you know anything behind that immaculately made-up face (It reportedly takes two hours and the help of another to apply. And you don’t want to see her without it, according to a source.) and brilliantly blond helmet hair Nan Grace — as many affectionately call her — dons every night as she’s perched at her desk? As her set’s bright lights illuminate her as if she hails from heaven, Nance berates guests and convicts kidnappers, murders, and pedophiles. She’s fired up, saucy, and she’ll stop at nothing in her crusade for the moral high ground.

And you’re so unknowingly ignorant as to why this sassafrass Southerner is the way she is. You’d be a little pissed off, too, if you had weathered half of the shit storm known as Nan Grace’s life.

A lover of Shakespeare, Nance planned to be an English teacher after college. This changed, though, the day her fiancé Keith was gunned down — shot five times in the face and back — mere months before their wedding ceremony. Nan Grace immediately veered into law school, undoubtedly with vengeance on her mind and a passion to give other violent-crime victims the closure they need in locking up their offenders. She sat up late studying at Mercer University School of Law, took law books to church, and pulled all-nighters practicing her closing statements. It all made her a top prosecutor with a strong record. Nan Grace was always thinking about the victim who, in many cases, doesn’t have a voice in her or his perpetrator’s trial.

Last time I checked, your fiancé wasn’t murdered, so you can shut the c-word up.

The rest of the arguments are so old, too: She’s a journalist who’s biased. She always talks about the same thing and never hears opposing views. Blah blah blah, you’re a dumbass.

Nan Grace, though it is rarely understood, is not a journalist. She never said she is. She’s a commentator with an agenda and very opinionated discourse. So guess what? She can mute any defense attorney’s mike she wants in favor of her own humble view of a matter, like the culpability of Michael Jackson or O.J. Simpson (but let’s not go there).

On to another pitiful argument about the show’s alleged redundant content. Well, how about telling Casey Anthony, charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter Caylee to not have vomited millions of lies about her toddler’s “abduction.” Or ask the person responsible for Natalee Holloway’s disappearance to come forward. Better yet, crack the more than decade-old JonBenet Ramsey case. Then maybe Grace would find something new to talk about. Plus, last time I checked, it’s her hour. You’re more than welcome to pitch an idea for a show (you won’t get it) and do whatever you want on it. But you’ll never be the ingenious Nan Grace, keeping tons of cases alive every year, constantly asking her interviewees the tough questions journalists don’t have the balls to ask. Nance makes enemies and loves it.

In the end, though, her passion is her charm. For Christ’s sake, at least she has it. When was the last time you were passionate about something (other than deciding whether to pregame with Hawkeye or Keystone)?

Give Nan Grace credit. She isn’t a piece of shit without a job who earned subpar grades and gets wasted all the time. She, you know, actually has a reason for being alive. She’s smart and spunky, she knows it, and she has a life goal she’s constantly fulfilling — let’s face it, Nan Grace has everything.

I’m not going to call Nancy Grace a bitch.

I’m not going to knock her scripted outrage, smug eye rolls, or overall poor taste and lack of respect for her interviewees.

I’m not going to criticize her for being an abrasive, loud-mouthed assailant with a superiority complex — an entitled caricature of a Southern belle-turned-attorney-turned-sensationalized-TV host whose compulsion to draw a distinct line between “good” and “evil,” is not only undermining, but her entire “attack first, think later” policy is a blight on the legal profession.

I’m going to call out Nancy Grace with what’s really the only piece of ammunition that matters: Nancy Grace is a racist.

Despite the fact that Grace gets off on assuming the role of the holy child advocate, unyielding in her quest to bring all perpetrators to justice, it’s obvious from watching her show on CNN’s “News and Views” offshoot that she seems to only care about white children. Add a point if they’re a little girl, add two points if she’s pretty, and add 10 points if her parents are poor, uneducated, and talk funny.

Heavy media coverage of crimes against children is to be expected. According to communication scholars Seong Jae Min and John Feaster, child victimization is newsworthy because a) it’s rare when taken in context of all crimes in the United States, and more importantly, b) kids represent purity and innocence. An assault on these values is a direct affront to American morals, thereby constituting high deviance and eliciting public outrage.

Though CNN.com describes Grace’s show as the “only justice themed/interview/debate show, designed for those interested in the breaking crime news of the day,” a Grace audience member could easily infer from her skewed coverage that the only crimes currently unfolding are those involving children (her show has perhaps grown more child-oriented over the years — she even has a “Baby Blog” of her own children prominently displayed on the show’s website).

Grace goes for the heartstrings of the viewing public by showing photos of dewy-eyed tots and wide-smiling teens, and though this is the oldest trick in a journalist’s hat, its hard to ignore that these pictures are rarely of black, Latino, or Asian children.

This is clearly unacceptable. In their research, Min and Feaster document a long history of news bias favoring white individuals, often over representing whites as victims of black or Latino criminals. By highlighting the plight of white children, Grace reinforces the stereotype of white victimization.
Though this bias isn’t always necessarily intentional, that doesn’t make it OK. It’s crucial to actively examine the underlying subtextual framework of our media rather than remain passive consumers.

Perhaps Grace’s racism isn’t overt, but it is racism all the same.

But Nancy Grace is not a bitch.

In this post-feminist, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton society, “bitch” has morphed from an insult into a marker designating a strong, smart, courageous woman willing to consider all the possibilities, admit when she’s wrong, and fight for what she believes (remember, as Tina Fey proclaimed, “Bitch is the new black”).

In the end, all Nancy Grace wants to do is fight for what’s white.

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