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COLUMN: 'Unseemly' conventions feel almost criminal

Despite being a self-admitted 'true-crime addict,' columnist wonders about the growing fascination with the genre
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You’ve heard about all the different cons, right?

Not referring to scams, but cons as in conventions held around the globe to celebrate various hobbies and passions.

ComiCons are where comic-book and super-hero fans gather and collect memorabilia.

WentworthCons are where fans of the Australian female prison show meet and greet the stars.

There are similar gatherings for basically any field of interest, be it horror, science fiction, classic TV ... well, you get the idea.

I was struck by one held recently in Florida. It was CrimeCon and catered to all things under the true-crime banner.

It was a three-day event where YouTubers, podcasters and the general public networked with internet celebrities, etc. They hobnobbed with the elite of the legal system. There were seminars and presentations on the latest methods in forensic science, crime-solving and discussions on the big cases of the day.

Full disclosure: I would be all over that gathering. I am a true-crime addict — the word 'fan' doesn’t seem appropriate. I’m not enthralled with the crime or the criminal, but I love the investigations and the court proceedings that follow. But most of all, I love justice.

That’s why I was torn between thinking this convention would be so interesting and also by the fact I was a bit turned off by it.

What concerned me was pictures of well-known news anchors with families of the victims.

Nancy Grace was posing with the family of Gabby Petito, the young vlogger who went missing and was later found murdered allegedly by her boyfriend, who later killed himself.

There was just an “ick” factor.

I believe family members were speakers at the event about their fundraising efforts.

Other guests included the daughter of BTK serial-killer Dennis Rader, who has written a book about growing up and not having a clue her father had a secret life as a murderer.

Also on the guest list is the mother of one of the Idaho Four murder victims, Ethan Chapin, who has written a book. That case hasn't even made it to trial.

Then there were selfies of journalists and podcasters with famous lawyers, including the big guns in the recent Alex Murdaugh trial — Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin for the defense, and Creighton Waters for the prosecution.

Trust me when I say these are household names in the world of Court TV.

Do they have a lot of share? No doubt.

Would I jump at the chance to hear their presentations? Yes, I would.

Should they be socializing in these ways while the murder and fraud cases are still playing out?

I assume it is legal, but is it proper?

Hypocrite? Yes, admittedly I am.

I would love to hear from psychologists, body-language experts, advocates for victims' rights, and FBI profilers.

On the plus side, I’m sure the survivors of crime get some relief and closure from sharing their experiences, and they have every right to do so.

Experts in the field of law enforcement can offer us great knowledge about policies and procedures.

On the negative side, it feels exploitative and unseemly.

However, the participants are absolutely the celebrities of this genre. Let’s face it, true crime intrigues us because it's dark and scary and real.

For better or worse, it's also big business.

It's just expected now that after every high-profile case there will be books by most of those who are involved, exclusive interviews, a Netflix documentary, and a maybe movie.

Plus, there's always merchandise. T-shirts reading 'I’m Only Here For An Alibi' or 'Arm-Chair Detective.'

If there’s a hunger for this genre, there will be an industry ready to feed it.

As a consumer, I will continue to eat it up even if it does leave a bad taste in my mouth.


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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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