There was an episode in season six called Homer badman where Homer is wrongfully accused of sexual harassment of a baby sitter. The episode is hilarious, and I highly recommend watching it. It is as relevant today as it was when it was aired about 20 years ago. The episode parodied how media could demonize a person by the way it spins a story. Media tells stories, and sometimes real people are cast as the antagonist when real life is never that simple.
I remember when the news broke about a woman who spilled McDonalds coffee on her lap and sued McDonalds and won millions of dollars. The whole thing was so ridiculous because everyone knows coffee is hot. If you spill coffee, of course you are going to get burned. How is that McDonalds' fault? The way the facts were presented made this story a poster child for frivolous lawsuits with immoral lawyers and their greedy clients winning the jackpot.
Jokes about this woman were everywhere on television, especially on the late night circuit. Seinfeld (another show I love) even made a parody out of it with Kramer spilling coffee on himself while smuggling it into a movie. This woman and her pain was turned into a joke.
But that was the story the media presented, and I never questioned it until I saw this link on facebook.
I'm assuming you watched the clip (and if you haven't, seriously watch it), but in case you still refuse, here is a recap.
1. McDonalds coffee wasn't just hot it was dangerously hot (180 to 190 degrees F), well above the coffee pot temperature of 150 degrees F. At this temperature third degree burns occur in a matter of seconds. Third degree burns are really serious. I think most people have only experience first and second degree burns. A second degree burn from coffee wouldn't be that big of a deal, but a third degree burn is a different story.
2. McDonalds knew their coffee was too hot. Hundreds of other people had gotten serious burns from McDonalds coffee before, and it had been previously been suggested that McDonalds should turn down the temperature to prevent something like this from happening.
I'm not saying that Stella Liebeck should've won a million dollar settlement (although she didn't exactly get millions of dollars), but only that she had a reasonable case against McDonalds, and it was not the frivolous lawsuit that was portrayed in the media. She certainly was not a villain.
It is amazing to me the power of the media has to write people's stories, and what they include or more important don't include can paint anyone as a protagonist or a villain depending on which way they want to slant the story. I think this has only gotten worse with the internet where information or misinformation can travel faster than ever and very, very few people do any sort of fact checking before they spread the gossip.
I read this article recently that Stephenie Meyer said she is over Twilight. She explained her reasons here (Aug 14, 2013 entry) more clearly in her official blog. Here is a quote from that post.
In some ways Twilight has been vilified by the internet in the way that Liebeck was vilified by the media. Criticisms of Twilight that suggest the story is misogynistic and/or dangerous for impressionable teens usually pick and choose parts that support their position and largely ignore the parts of the books that don't. I'm not saying that some of these critics don't make some very good points, only that the criticisms are uneven and in many cases over-exaggerated. I don't think it really is so much worse than hundreds or even thousands of other books. But Twilight has become the poster child for bad YA books like Stella Liebeck has become the poster child for frivolous lawsuits.
I know that writers need to be thick skinned, but I understand why Stephenie is over Twilight. No matter how thick skinned you are being the butt of a million jokes is always going to get tiresome.