Expression VS Exploitation: Mommie Dearest and Its Impact

Christina Crawford, adopted daughter of the late Academy Award-winning actress Joan Crawford, published a memoir about her experience growing up with a woman she portrayed to be emotionally and physically abusive. She published the book a year after her mother died, and three years later an amped-up, overdramatic movie based on the memoir would be released, permanently going hand and hand with Joan Crawford’s reputation just after she was no longer allowed to defend herself.

While the claims Christina Crawford makes against her mother can only be validated by members of the household, two of her adopted siblings have protested against the book’s contents. One of the aforementioned siblings, Cathy LaLonde, went so far as to sue over what she deemed to be blatantly false statements that Christina Crawford had made whilst promoting a new edition of her book.

The issue that I personally take with¬†Mommie Dearest is that it is written with such clear contempt, in a tone that is meant to make the reader want to delve further and further into this hidden Hollywood scandal. Christina Crawford did not show this book to her mother, which is not necessarily required, but in order for a narrator to be reliable, in my opinion, they need to have a certain amount of respect for people whose private moments they will be using in order to further their narrative. The narrator doesn’t need to have forgiven the antagonistic person upon writing the piece, however they ought not delve into the territory of completely slandering a person; nuances are more realistic and more believable and should be included, even if it makes an antagonistic character seem sympathetic when the narrator still hasn’t forgiven them.

A more in-depth look at more incidents involving accuracy among the Crawford family as well as the result of a 1999 court case that Cathy LaLonde filed against Christina Crawford can be found here.

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