Does the internet buzz about Jeremy Meeks, “the photogenic felon” mean there’s one rule for the majority and another for the “beautiful people”? Who is getting away with murder, and who’s to blame?
#Hot mugshot guy.
I CAN GUESS WHAT you’re thinking – why is DNA giving all this attention to a convicted criminal? First we had the nerve to blog about his mugshot (which you already knew about because you’d checked him out on Facebook earlier that day) and now we’re featuring him in the Sexiest Men Alive issue?
If you’re not up to date with the Jeremy Meeks saga, here’s what you’ve missed. In June, the Stockton, California Police Department shared Meeks’ mug shot on Facebook, warning the public of increased robberies and shootings in the area and that Meeks had been arrested on felony weapons charges. Within hours his photo had spread throughout the Stockton community and beyond, making its way around the globe for all the wrong reasons.
With his perfectly symmetrical face, sexy blue eyes, kissable lips and neck tattoos providing plenty of bad-boy allure, the digital world couldn’t get enough of this sexy mug shot. The original Facebook post was liked over 100,000 times, shared over 12,000 times and generated over 26,000 comments. #HotMugShotGuy became a popular Twitter hashtag while a Facebook fan page racked up nearly a quarter of a million fans in just over a month. Many believed Meeks could model and, before long, memes with his face cropped onto the ripped bodies of Calvin Klein models gave an idea of what he could be doing if he weren’t locked behind bars.
Meeks has been in and out of prison for nine years and been described as one of the most violent criminals in Stockton, boasting a lengthy rap sheet. His crimes include corporal injury (he viciously attacked a teenager back in 2002), grand theft, robbery, identity theft, resisting arrest, street terrorism, gang-related violence and weapons charges. The teardrop tattoo beneath his eye suggests he may have even taken a life.
So why is a criminal like Meeks being glorified? We asked DNA’s online community. Some
“#HotMugShotGuy became a popular Twitter hashtag while a Facebook fan page racked up nearly a quarter of a million fans in just over a month.”
pointed the blame at DNA, suggesting a boycott of our magazine for posting the popular memes on our site. Others disregarded the text and left comments about his body, not realising the photos were photoshopped. Then there were those who defended him. “Everybody deserves a second chance, and in this case especially. Jeremy has the opportunity to become a worldwide model,” one fan posted. “Let’s initiate a global movement for him to be released,” wrote another, apparently unaware that Meeks’ mother had already used the attention to set up a GoFundMe. com campaign to crowd-source the $25,000 needed for his legal defense.
The general consensus, however, was that Meeks is a thug and that it was inappropriate for media outlets to draw attention to him. “Stop making stupid assholes famous,” one reader insisted. “Why are you showcasing him? That’s as ignorant as the likes on his Facebook page and the stupid people wanting to bail him out,” vented another.
Despite the backlash, Meeks, still behind bars, is now represented by Hollywood agent Gina Rodriguez, known for managing D-list celebrities such as the Octomom and Tila Tequila. He’s been offered $100,000 by porn company Dogfart, which he’s declined, but is in talks to sign a $30,000 modelling contract with an agency in Los Angeles. There are also rumours that Meeks could star in his own reality TV show and sign lucrative endorsement deals when he’s released from jail.
The unfolding story of Jeremy Meeks is crazy but nothing new. The criminal behavior of the rich, famous and beautiful is often glorified in our culture. Consider Winona Ryder (shop lifting), Shia Labeouf (disorderly conduct and harassment), Justin Bieber (driving under the influence, without a license and resisting arrest), Lindsay Lohan (driving under the influence, drug possession among many more) and Robert Downey Jr (drug possession and more), to name a few. We’re all “guilty” of seeing their films, buying their music or, in the case of Meeks, liking their photos.
Should Meeks be rewarded for criminal behaviour? Absolutely not. Will people buy a pair of underwear because “that hot criminal” models them? Probably.
Internet memes generated to suggest Meeks’ supermodel potential.