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    The Gabby Petito Case Is Forcing Us To Reckon With Our Collective True Crime Obsession

    “It is concerning that people feel such liberty to turn to their TikTok accounts and post and talk so openly about the case, as if they were gossiping to friends about it.”

    On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed the Gabby Petito case. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!

    Listen on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Podcasts. You can also find BuzzFeed Daily wherever else you might listen to your favorite podcasts!

    So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to BuzzFeed News reporter Tanya Chen about the Gabby Petito case and the internet’s unhealthy obsession with true crime. Here's some of what we learned:

    BuzzFeed Daily: Before we get into your article, can you give our listeners a quick summary of the Gabby Petito case? What exactly happened?

    BuzzFeed Daily: In the last week, this story really gained national media attention. But that has a lot to do with TikTok. Can you explain the role that TikTok played in circulating this story?

    TC: So from the time the initial reports of Gabby going missing started circulating, I remember logging into TikTok even just like moments — definitely within an hour or so — and people were already kind of openly discussing the case in videos that were kind of going viral in live time and being pushed onto the For You Page, or at least my For You Page.

    It created this open forum for people to hypothesize what could have happened, who was at fault, this kind of scramble to find clues online on Gabby's Instagram page and on the couple's YouTube channel. And even her Spotify was mined. So it definitely played a role in furthering the attention that this case got.

    BuzzFeed Daily: The piece you wrote for BuzzFeed News is all about true crime fans, particularly the ones you're describing now on TikTok. There are tons of internet sleuths who have been trying to help solve the case, but at the same time, there are some TikTokers who are maybe using the Gabby Petito case to bolster their own following, since this is just now going so viral. How do you discern whether these shooters motives are actually noble or if they're just being opportunistic?

    TC: So the TikTok user who I interviewed for that piece characterized it really nicely. Her name is Jessica Dean. She had kind of lived through the infamous Slenderman stabbing and had known many people involved in that case personally. So she has a really good perspective on not only this, but the true crime frenzy of it all, that she reminds us that we should all keep in mind when we're talking about it. 

    She basically said that it most likely isn't malicious, or it's happening on a subconscious level, but it is concerning that people feel such liberty to kind of turn to their TikTok accounts and post and talk so openly about the case as if they were gossiping to friends about it. But their gossip is now being blasted to millions of people and influencing millions of people's opinions before we even know what's going on or where the next lead or update can take us. 

    And sometimes TikTokers will correct the information that they have in a follow-up TikTok, but they won't always delete the original one. So she pointed out how problematic that is because the original one has garnered a lot of views and now we are all beholden to views and these statistics for value online. And so it's a really kind of tragic formula that doesn't prioritize trying to get the right information out there to get closer to figuring out what happened to Gabby.

    BuzzFeed Daily: One thing we can't ignore is why Gabby's case is getting so much attention. It happens a lot when a victim is young, female, white, and conventionally attractive. It seems like whenever something like this happens, there's an additional conversation about people who go missing, who don't fit the missing white woman description — specifically people of color — and why they don't receive that same media attention. Yet it never really seems to change. Why do you think that is?

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    TC: I think it's kind of a bad feedback loop that we have going. The more people who intrinsically take to a pretty young white woman narrative, the more the media will cover it to satiate that curiosity. And the more attention it gets, the more people are even more invested and the cycle kind of feeds into itself — until here we are. But we are also having this critical conversation about how to interrupt the cycle. I think one way to interrupt the cycle is to have conversations like we're having right now, that is also openly happening online, asking ourselves, "Why do we give more attention and more intrinsic value to white victims and white women victims who go missing?" And like the Joy Reid clip that you played, they rightfully point out that it's not that we should take back our care and attention off of white women victims. It's that we should be mindful of elevating the same kind of care and attention we give to non-white victims.

    BuzzFeed Daily: This is just kind of the latest evolution of how everyday people involve themselves in cases like this one. Can you tell us your overall thoughts about the internet's obsession with true crime? Is there anything stopping people doing this for, unfortunately, the next case?

    In the rest of the episode, we also talked about the new Super Mario Bros. movie, even though a perfect Super Mario Bros. movie already exists (shoutout to Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo), there’s another one in the works, and the internet is divided over the voice cast list.

    The Super Mario Bros. Animated Film movie is heading to theaters in North America on 12/21/22! Check out the voice cast for the upcoming movie below 👇

    Twitter: @NintendoAmerica

    Chris Pratt and Charlie Day will voice Mario and Luigi, respectively. We’re also getting Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Jack Black as Bowser, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, and Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong.

    The internet is mostly excited, although some folks are very upset that Chris Pratt was cast as Mario instead of Danny DeVito.

    In other news, The View hosts Sunny Hostin and Ana Navarro had to leave set after testing positive for COVID.

    BREAKING: Sunny and Ana have been asked to leave the ABC studio because they tested positive for COVID. #TheView

    Twitter: @LiveOnTheChat

    A producer asked them to step away, just moments before Vice President Kamala Harris was supposed to come onstage.

    As the producers looked for another studio for Harris to do the interview remotely from, Joy Behar explained what was going on.

    The interview went forward as planned, with Harris taking the opportunity to talk about the importance of getting vaccinated.

    As always, thanks for listening! And if you ever want to suggest stories or just want to say hi, you can reach us at daily@buzzfeed.com.

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