Jaycee Dugard, Susan Klebold, and Misery Porn

What Women Really Think
Oct. 15 2009 11:31 AM

Jaycee Dugard, Susan Klebold, and Misery Porn


I am a fan of O: The Oprah Magazine , but I usually only buy it as an airport indulgence. But when I saw the article by Susan Klebold, the mother of Columbine killer Dylan, excerpted on the Oprah website , I was inspired to buy a copy at a newsstand. The website only gave vague snippets and I was driven to read the entire story. What did I hope to find in that article? Revelations about her son's inner life? How she overcame the true tragedy that resulted from Dylan's actions? Tips on surviving the reputation that you're the worst mother in the world?


I did find all those things in the article, but still felt unsatisfied and fairly disgusted after reading the article. Not with Susan Klebold. With myself. It's one thing to read a neutral party's researched take on Columbine, like Dave Cullen's excellent book on the events leading up to the April 20, 1999 massacre. But it's another to be deeply drawn to the destruction of a decent person's life. I feel the same way about the endlessly hyped Jaycee Dugard interview in People , which hits stores tomorrow. Will I buy that magazine? Part of me will want to. But maybe this time I'll be able to resist the lure of misery porn.

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.


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