Monday, October 12, 2009

So ends the Hipster Grifter (no bullets)

Posted By on October 12, 2009, 12:29 PM

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The Hipster Grifter, Salt Lake and New York cities' Kari Michelle Ferrell, will spend 9 months in jail. And who cares? A loose collection of Internet users, largely young-adult Americans, who could care less about anything else the Salt Lake City Police will do. That's who. ---



But don't tell the police that. I saw SLCPD on the television the other day, months ago?, talking about how they were going to put more information online about fugitives because of the amazing Internet popularity of the Hipster Grifter meme. Eventually, you see, all the attention lead to her capture because her face had become relatively famous in just the right communities - i.e. her peer group. Maybe police will catch more fugitives if they try to reinvent that wheel.



It's such precious thinking. They put her on the 'Most Wanted' list and, BAM, months later they knew where she was and had her arrested. They must have done something right, right?



I can see how they got confused. Ferrell is just not interesting, at least not from law enforcement's perspective. Small-time thief. I wondered what prompted them to put her on the 'Most Wanted' list in the first place.



So what does account for the attention?



I read the New York Observer article that started it all. It was well-written, and showed a lot of hard work and good reporting, but I still didn't understand why people cared enough to post it on their Facebook - even the reporter who wrote it. How did she convince her editor that this was time well spent? I was strictly a crime journalist this spring (I didn't cover SLC) when I read the Observer article (well after the Hipster Grifter meme had matured) so I was dissecting it for themes, strategies, etc. I wanted to recreate that fire with my small-time crime stories, just like the police who surely want to recreate that fire, too.



My neighbor grew up with Ferrell -- and was scammed by her -- so I tried to tap his knowledge. No Help. I have a friend in NYC who talked about that side. She didn't give me any great insight. A hipster friend in the Midwest just told me to get an interview with her to become a Internet sensation. Thanks for nothing.



All that discussion, and I still didn't understand.



Besides being a cocky, young, and sexy gal who mocked the SLCPD from the (relatively) safe confines of NYC - she gave media interviews even while evading her arrest warrant - I never understood what made her different from hundreds of small-time thieves.



Then I realized: cocky, young, sexy, female. Do you need more than that?

SLCPD: if you want that much attention all the time, chase after more cocky, young, sexy females. Until then, with all due respect, know your place in the Internet world as a flash-in-the-pan PD and be OK with that.

Ferrell's short-little 9 months in jail just underscores how underwhelming this story has been from the beginning. It's not that I was "hoping" for a barrage of bullets like the end of "Bonnie and Clyde," also about sexy, young criminals--but something dramatic would justify the time I've spent getting to know this woman.

So, dear readers, many of you are many times smarter than me. Was the Hipster Grifter just a sexy tart, and that's really the root of why people cared? Or am I STILL missing something? As a professional journalist, my curiosity is genuine.

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Jesse Fruhwirth

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