Why Are We All So Obsessed With the Cleveland Kidnapping Case?

There are benefits and risks to the media circus around the Cleveland case.

Accused Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro.

Ariel Castro appears in Cleveland Municipal court Thursday alongside defense attorney Kathleen DeMetz after he was charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.

By + More

The victims and their families have become recognizable names and faces, as has the man who reportedly helped with the rescue. The interview with Charles Ramsey - one of the neighbors who reportedly heard Berry's cries - has gone viral, turned into a meme and autotuned like it was a cat video (and not without criticism). "The media get caught up in this sort of competitive jazz on the scene," says Deppa. "It doesn't really help us very much other than as students of human kind. People will say the darndest things and behave the darndest way when there is a camera around."

Fass and Deppa agree that the media has grown more sensitive when dealing with victims and their families than they have in years past, even if the coverage has grown more sensational. However, it's not unreasonable, albeit cynical, to ask how long until the Amanda Berry story becomes a cable TV movie (Lifetime's "Elizabeth Smart Story" came out only seven months after her recovery)? And that's not to mention "People" magazine photo spreads, tell-all memoirs and the True Crime docu-dramas that cases like this inspire. "The triumphant victim has become very much the way we look at things," says Fass. "The families of these poor girls find it very difficult to resist because they are offered a lot of money for these stories." However she points out, that such sensationalizing can inspire copycatting, as the 1924 Leopold and Loeb kidnapping case, dubbed the "Trial of the Century," was said to inspire a crime in 1928.

[READ: Charles Ramsey's Turbulent 15 Minutes of Fame]

Deppa praises the victims' families for keeping their daughters out of the spotlight thus far. "I was pleased to see that in most of the homecomings [Wednesday] that the families did not leave room for exploitation of the young women as they were returning home," says Deppa. "Recognizing that that was okay, acceptable behavior is an important message. You don't always have to speak to the media."

More News:

  • 3 Missing Women Found in Cleveland, Bus Driver and Brothers Arrested
  • Cleveland Man Charged With Women's Kidnap, Rape
  • Study: Snapchat 'Sexts' Aren't Actually Deleted