Opinion — Gypsy Rose Blanchard: Innocent influencer or glorified criminal?

Opinion — Gypsy Rose Blanchard: Innocent influencer or glorified criminal?

Since the prison release of Gypsy Rose Blanchard on December 28, 2023, the media has formed a split moral narrative about the now 32-year-old murder accomplice of her mother. Most of the controversy lies not in whether or not the masses believe it was just for her to be released from prison, but in whether or not she should be receiving the amount of attention that she is. 

Since the Hulu limited series The Act (2019) came out, an empathy for Gypsy Rose Blanchard blossomed in both psychological and lawful discourse. Gypsy’s mother Dee Dee suffered from munchausen by proxy. According to the Mayo Clinic, munchausen by proxy is a behavioral disorder that inflicts a caretaking individual with a hunger for specific attention that manifests in the form of exaggerating health complications of the person in their care. Gypsy Rose believed for most of her childhood that she was critically ill with leukemia, muscular dystrophy and a multitude of debilitating allergies. At the discovery of her mother’s deception of both herself and the public, along with the emotional and physical abuse inflicted by Dee Dee, she convinced her mentally impaired online boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, to stab her to death.

Gypsy Rose was released three years earlier than her initial 10-year sentence stipulated. This has led to a roaring of members of the media, which is already familiar with the situation popularized by the biographical television show in 2019. Since her release in late December, Gypsy has made a considerable social media presence for herself, with 8.3 million Instagram followers and 9.9 million TikTok followers. Her story is also being retold in a Lifetime docuseries. After the release of the Lifetime interviews, playful discourse has circulated around the internet. Under an Instagram post of her and her husband at their Lifetime premiere, Gypsy received hundreds of comments saying she’s a “QUEEN” and to “Get that coin girl” for profiting off of the Lifetime series. A TikTok fan account, gypsyroseblanchard.1 which has over a hundred thousand followers, is littered with comments under its posts such as “In Gypsy Rose we trust” and “she’s such an icon.” 

This vicious cycle of glorification in the media is not grounded in any tangible morality. Gypsy’s life, trauma and crime have more substance than its value in people’s entertainment. By boiling her identity and experiences down to a television dramatization, she becomes dehumanized through commodification and idealization. Joey King as Gypsy Rose in The Act is not a representation of Gypsy Rose

Story continues below advertisement

Gypsy’s praise is rooted not in genuine empathy for her, but in superficial consumption bolstered by social media platforms to promote profit-gaining traffic. This idolizing culture online impacts our perception, manipulating our judgment of the news. The relationship between creator and consumer lies not in the content itself but in what narratives are pushed by algorithms, altering our attitude towards the content. In this case, the content is Gypsy Roses’ identity and crime. The media has expectations for her to continue the artificial idolization created through Gypsy’s character in The Act, leaving this real-life person to uphold our beliefs about her: that she is relatable, or a role model. 

The controversy lies within two main questions: does Gypsy deserve all of this media praise for being a criminal, and is it healthy for Gypsy to become a social media influencer straight out of seven years in prison? The romanticization of criminals did not start with Blanchard. For instance, Ted Bundy’s cult-like following on the sole merit of his attractiveness. The positive reinforcement that she’s receiving will likely not result in another surrogate murderer situation, because not only was it a crime of passion, but she’s had seven years in prison to reconcile with it. So, there isn’t much direct legal impact of her boosted ego.

The impact that the pressure to be an influencer has on Gypsy’s mental well-being is something that Gypsy needs to gauge for herself. It is her decision whether or not she engages with the attention she receives, and how she will cultivate that engagement– whether it is through advocacy or stardom. This is the first time in her life that she gets to make decisions for herself and blossom as an individual, and that should not be stifled by profit-focused demands from the insatiable media. 

More to Discover