Death of an All-American Girl?

Last night, I was finishing my blog post, minding my own business, when this news headline caught my attention: “Death of an All-American Girl (and Drug Dealer).” Next to the story was the picture of a smiling young woman.

I followed the link to this:

She had the kind of high-wattage smile and wholesome, all-American-girl look that one might expect from a beauty pageant winner. Rian Thal, 34, loved her cats and chocolate. (She tweeted about having a "foodgasm" from chocolate bread pudding).

Many had no idea that the bubbly party planner led a double life as a drug "holder" and dealer.

On June 27, two men took the elevator to the seventh floor of Thal's swanky apartment complex and shot Thal and her friend Timothy Gilmore in the head. Police say another shooter was waiting on the other side of the hall.

The suspects then calmly walked out of the building.

How'd This Happen?
The murder -- a suspected drug deal or robbery gone awry -- has much of Philadelphia wondering how a nice suburban girl like Thal got mixed up in the drug scene. According to Jeff Deeney of the Daily Beast, it's a lot easier (and more common) than one might think.

"It's not as surprising as you'd think that someone like Thal, a reported casual coke user, would find herself being asked if she wanted to start participating in deals," Deeney writes, adding, "I, too, was asked if I wanted to get in on the game. Did I want to front five grand and go in on a niner? The question came up more than once…"
Now, I feel sorry for the victims’ families about their losses, but calling Rian an “All American Girl?”

Are you serious?

Reading more of this article, additional aspects of Rian's past, the "All American Girl," are revealed:

1) she was a former stripper;

2) she had been arrested for cocaine possession;

3) she was previously convicted of smuggling meth to the US from the Netherlands; and,

4) when authorities searched her apartment after the murders, they recovered $100,000 in cash and four kilos of the white powder.

What is the criterion for an "All-American Girl"-—bleached blonde hair, no morals, slim figure, dope dealer, and pursuer of earthly riches?

If that is the case, then I need to find another country of “girls” for my young daughter to emulate.

Its times like these when I hear Eugene Peterson yelling from a tall mountain:

The puzzle is why so many people live so badly. Not so wickedly, but so inanely. Not so cruelly, but so stupidly. There's little to admire and less to imitate in the people who are prominent in our culture. We have celebrities, but not saints.

Famous entertainers amuse a nation of bored insomniacs. Infamous criminals act out the aggressions of timid conformists. Petulant and spoiled athletes play games vicariously for lazy and apathetic spectators.

People aimless and bored amuse themselves with trivia and trash. Neither the adventure of goodness nor the pursuit of righteousness get headlines...

No other culture has been as eager to reward either nonsense or wickedness.
Unfortunately, not many are listening to Peterson’s sage observation, and we are left with the catchy yet inaccurate headline: "Death of an All-American Girl."


Expat From Hell said...

This is great criticism of our culture, and gently reminds me that I should be reading more Peterson and watching less TV. Thanks for doing this. Great post.


J. J. in Phila said...

I live withing five miles of the site of the murder and don't know anyone that thinks Ms. Thal was an "all-American-girl."

At the risk of slightly reverse racist, Ms. Thal was a pretty, and Caucasian and non-Hispanic, woman. Had she not been, "all-American" would never had been used.

That itself is a sad commentary on our culture.

She seems to have been someone heavily involved in drug trafficking, at the upper end. At some level, it is all to common, without regard to race or gender.

thewarriorpoets said...

Perfectly put.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

If she's an "All American Girl," I'm getting a sex change.

Oz Girl said...

"Neither the adventure of goodness nor the pursuit of righteousness get headlines."

I must agree with this statement, and it's such a shame that we don't see such goodness in the headlines.

Fantastic post, thanks.

copswife said...

Our culture is obsessed with beauty. If she had been a common looking girl, with a weight problem, this wouldn't have been such a tantilizing angle, the "All American Girl"

copswife said...

Another thought: is it any less sad or shocking when another girl, less pretty, gets caught in a web of drugs? Each victim is tragic. Not just the pretty ones.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Copswife, I absolutely agree. In fact, generally it's the ones who are considered more attractive that get the most attention in life. They get more and better paying jobs as well. There is discrimination against "fat people" and "ugly people" in this country.

Now, the fat stigma isn't as bad as it was in the 80's when I was growing up, but that's only because more than 1/3 of the population is overweight for a variety of reasons. This is hardly a comfort in some ways, but in others, it has taught us that being fat isn't really a big deal (pun). Being healthy IS. But people confuse being healthy with being thin and attractive. Stupid assumption on their part, and this "All American Girl" proves it.

Cindy Beck said...

Aaah, yes, the press loves to call good evil, and evil good. I'm feel badly for her family, but she's hardly the "All American Girl."