A Handsome Crime?

Hanna Kang, Editorial Editor

​Orange is the new black? Not so fast.

Thirty-year-old Jeremy Meeks, dubbed “World’s Most Handsome Crook,” was arrested on charges of illegal gun possession and gang crime last month in Stockton, Calif., during Operation Ceasefire, a commission to restrain a recent increase in shootings and robberies in the area. When the police department posted his mug shot on its Facebook page, the response from around the world was deafening. The post has garnered thousands of comments, both from those praising Meeks’ striking looks, and those chiding the extollers for their seemingly endless brouhaha. Countless memes, featuring Meeks in designer advertisements, have surfaced as well.

Jeremy Meeks' mug shot caused a sensation online.
Jeremy Meeks’ mug shot caused a sensation online.

​To the excitement of many in support of Meeks, the handsome felon recently landed a $30,000 modeling contract with Blaze Models & Talent Management of Santa Monica. However, Meeks will not be swapping his bright, orange jumpsuit for a sleek, dark designer suit anytime soon. He was turned over to federal prosecutors and is now in federal custody, facing a single charge: “Felon in possession of a firearm,” which may secure him 10 years behind bars.

​Much as it is reassuring to hear that Meeks will not be spotted on the runway in the near future, the fact that the apparently dashing criminal made top headlines is disturbing at the very least. The last time I checked, Meeks was once a prominent member of the Northside Gangster Crips in one of California’s most notorious gang neighborhoods. He was also incarcerated for five weapons charges and two offences for gang raids.

​America’s timeless love affair with the outlaw mug shot must stop now. It is altogether unacceptable that countless people in America and around the world are idolizing a criminal with a history of felonies, while we live in a society where grade-school students are found carrying marijuana in their backpacks, one girl stabs another to death over a Facebook dispute, and more and more youth are headed to Juvenile Hall.

The thousands of people who reacted recklessly to Meeks’ mug shot, such as commenting on Facebook, “Momma, I’m in love with a criminal,” or nicknaming him “Dreamy McMug,” are essentially allowing young lawbreakers to assume that it is okay to be handcuffed and thrown in a cell, and the naïve to believe that it is perfectly fine to be involved in a gang and later go to jail for it, as long as you have a pair of piercing baby blues and chiseled cheekbones.