Until a few days ago, 30-year-old Jeremy Meeks was a convicted felon living in Stockton and depending on who you believe, was either a man trying to turn his life around or one of the city’s most violent criminals.
Though the truth may be somewhere in the middle, Meeks has become an example of the worst consequences of our social media-obsessed society. By Friday, his anonymity was destroyed forever when his mug shot went viral, generating worldwide coverage. Why? Because Meeks is a handsome, tall, slim, tatted, blue-eyed biracial Black man with chiseled cheekbones that took one of the most photogenic non-celebrity mug shots in history.
Since then, his family, including his wife, his mother, his brother, his children and everyone associated with him has been put under a microscope while his character, sexuality, criminal history and violent tendencies have been commented on and judged by total strangers.
The attention inspired not just several memes which Photoshopped him into designer ads, but a vicious backlash towards women who liked or commented on his photo, and social media dissertations on the prison-industrial complex, Black people and colorism and speculation that his white wife is a gun moll who’s down for her thug life man either because of, or in spite of, the fact that he’s Black.
As everyone picks apart his life on social media, including those who believe this is a chance at redemption given his previously undiscovered model potential, Meeks remains in a Stockton jail with bail set at a million dollars while the Internet and the world moves onto The Next Hot Internet Sensation, whatever that turns out to be. Unfortunately, as Meeks himself has said in a jailhouse interview, the attention he never solicited and isn’t in a position to take advantage of, doesn’t help him at all.
Meeks’ 15 minutes of fame angered many men who were apparently unaware that they can be just as objectified as most women are used to being on a regular basis. Through the same social media outlets that made Meeks a sensation, these men sniped at women, calling those who said Meeks was “hot” lonely and desperate THOTS who would do anything for a pretty man. We’re sure those women actually exist, since there are several notorious cases of convicted felons with wives, girlfriends and pen pals. But we don’t have the time here to fully explore that pathology.
We’ll go on a limb an say that many women simply took a look at a hot dude in a mug shot and joked about the possibilities of hooking up with him and then went right on with their real lives.
In other words, Meeks experienced what any good-looking woman with attractive Instagram pics deals with every single day. Yes, men, women objectify you, with the same thirst that you do for any hot celebrity chick or Instagram or Tumblr celebrity. Sorry to disappoint you.
As for those who believe admiring the genetic gifts of a convicted felon glorifies thug life – if you‘ve ever watched The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, or any number of other TV shows and movies that deal with anti-heros, crime, criminal activity or murder and violence, then you’ve done the same.
As far as Blacks and colorism – we can’t say that it doesn’t exist. But isn’t the reverse true as well – that light-skinned, biracial Black people often deal with the most sickening assumptions heaped on them by those who automatically deem them stuck-up, conceited, or snobbish, while questioning their Blackness simply by virtue of skin color? We daresay Meeks is proof that being light-skinned and cute doesn’t keep you from being caught up.
Meeks is jailed on weapons charges and has been accused of other crimes. He has not been convicted. His criminal history notwithstanding, he deserves the due process any other person accused of a crime should get. Given his alleged status as a gunrunner, you’d think there would be profit enough for him to get a pricey lawyer, yet he has a public defender and his mother has started a GoFundMe account to help pay his bail.
I can’t possibly argue Meeks’ innocence or guilt and am not trying to. That will happen at his trial, long after most folks have forgotten about him. The sad part is, as many people have pointed out, he’s just a very good-looking example of a multitude of Black men who face incarceration, probation, overcharging, detention, false arrest, imprisonment and racial profiling all across America. That some posters took time away from Meeks’ admittedly mesmerizing baby blues to recognize his possible plight as part of the laughable pattern of criminal injustice perpetuated on Black men is the valuable part of this story.
Meeks may indeed be deserving of all this karma because he’s a violent felon who should be off the streets. Or he could be, like many young Black men, someone who faced limited choices and made all the wrong ones. Either way, he deserves his day in court and his life, regardless of how pretty he is, handed back to him, instead of becoming the latest fodder our social media entertainment.
Celebrity Social Media Troubles
1. Beyonce was at the center of an Instagram uproar when she posed provocatively in front of a picture of The Last Supper.1 of 28
2. Snoop Dogg caught backlash when he uploaded a picture of him smoking marijuana with his teenage son.2 of 28
3. After pop singer Rita Ora broke up with Rob Kardashian, he implied that she slept with over 20 guys on Twitter.3 of 28
4. Gospel singer Erica Campbell found herself in the middle of a social media uproar over a skin-tight white dress she wore on her album cover.4 of 28
5. Floyd Mayweather posted pictures of his ex girlfriend's abortion paperwork on Instagram.5 of 28
6. Shaq was found making fun of a disabled man on Instagram. The man eventually created an anti-bullying program as a result.6 of 28
7. 13-year-old Willow Smith was the subject of criticism when she was spotted on Instagram with a shirtless 20 year old man7 of 28
8. Donald Sterling lost ownership of the LA Clippers from making racist comments that stemmed from a photo of his girlfriend and a black player on Instagram8 of 28
9. Kobe Bryant caught backlash over controversial tweets about Trayvon Martin and race.9 of 28
10. Nick Cannon caught tons of backlash when he uploaded a photo of him wearing whiteface on Instagram.10 of 28
11. Stephen Jackson was fined $25K for a 'hostile tweet' directed at OKC's Serge Ibaka11 of 28
12. Ochocinco was fined $25K for tweeting during a pre-season game.12 of 28
13. Mark Cuban was fined $25K after publicly criticizing the referees after the Nuggets beat the Mavericks.13 of 28
14. Al Roker tweeted a photo from a jury duty he served exposing other jurors' identities.14 of 28
15. 50 Cent sent cryptic messages on Twitter about ending his life.15 of 28
16. Rihanna had her Instagram account deleted after uploading a magazine cover where she appeared topless.16 of 28
17. Teyana Taylor lost her Adidas deal after making a picture of a battered Rihanna her profile picture during a Twitter spat with the singer.17 of 28
18. Roland Martin got in trouble with GLADD and was suspended from CNN.18 of 28
19. Ciara and Rihanna had a Twitter spat but have since made up.19 of 28
20. Chris Brown on GMA tweeted "I'm so over people bringing this s**t up!!!"20 of 28
21. Lady Gaga upset the National Eating Disorder Asso. with the hashtag PopSingersD21 of 28
22. Spike Lee tweeted the wrong address for George Zimmerman.22 of 28
23. Ashton Kutcher's ill-advised Joe Paterno tweet23 of 28
24. Kanye tweeted his opinion on women who use pregnancy as a money making scheme24 of 28
25. Gilbert Gottfried was dropped by Aflac for tasteless Tsunami jokes.25 of 28
26. Justin Bieber pretended to tweet his own number and causing trouble for a couple26 of 28
27. Rashard Mendenhall he tweeted his objection to folks celebrating Osama's death.27 of 28
28. Courtney Love accused a former Nirvana drummer of seducing her daughter.28 of 28