Drawing the Line at Little Caylee

Far be it from me to tell a company what products to make and market, and the news is certainly fertile ground for new ideas, but honestly, you really have to wonder what the folks at Showbiz Promotions in Jacksonville, Florida, are thinking with their new Caylee Anthony doll.

A Tribute to Greed

They call it a “tribute” to the little girl and according to Jaime Salcedo, the president of Showbiz, the doll was not made to look exactly like Caylee since that would be “morbid.” OK, how is that different from having Caylee’s name actually on the doll and calling it the “Inspirational Caylee Sunshine Doll?” Maybe the fact that when you squeeze it, the doll sings “You are my sunshine,” is a mitigating factor, as is Salcedo’s decision to donate $3 of every purchase to a worthy cause (as of yet, no takers).

I guess with all that, not going the extra mile in making the doll look like the poor kid demonstrates the good taste and life-affirming positive nature of the product.

No, upon reflection, it is still morbid and the only thing it inspires is disgust and renewed pity for a little girl whose gruesome murder has already been ruthlessly exploited by the media. Now she needs to be exploited by Showbiz Promotions as well?

Assuming that disgust with Showbiz and pity for Caylee are not what Salcedo wants to inspire, I would really like to know what this doll is actually supposed to inspire. Things become inspirational when they are linked to momentous events or great personal deeds that people should feel some connection to or wish to emulate. The murder of Caylee is neither of these. It was a horrible deed that has destroyed a family and has caused a pall to settle upon a community.

If Salcedo wants to inspire memory for Caylee, we have that, too. No one, who has not been living under a rock, has missed the story, has failed to see her pictures. Caylee will not be forgotten, just as Anthony Martinez, Jessica Lunsford,Dylan Groene and the myriad other young victims will not be forgotten.

There is, really, no good reason why this doll should be made, a position shared by the Anthony family attorney, Brad Conway:

This is an example of another person trying to profit from the tragedy of Caylee's death. He has never met my clients, spoken to my clients and has not gotten authority of any type to do this. And after I have a chance to research it, I will likely take whatever legal action I can.

Not that this is Showbiz’ first brush with infamy. They are under investigation by the Florida Attorney General for failing to ship merchandise ordered from their websites. One of those items was the “Vick Dog Chew Toy,” a rubberized dog toy in the shape of Michael Vick wearing a prison uniform. No doubt it’s a tribute—albeit a tacky one—to the victims of Michael Vick’s passion for dog fights.

The Bottom Line

There was once a level of civility in our culture that kept things like this from even coming to public notice. That is, alas, over. Now, we have companies working to exploit the murder of a child—even before she has been given a burial—for commercial gain. It is sad and for that reason alone upstanding entrepreneurs should turn away from such business and I can only hope that any store owners who read this will refuse to carry such items.

However, if that is not enough, Conway said it best: I will likely take whatever legal action I can. Salcedo and his company will likely be embroiled in yet another expensive legal fight, this time over the “Inspirational Caylee Sunshine Doll,” which is as it should be. With any luck, the doll will be pulled before it even becomes available, and Showbiz Promotions will be held up as an caution and a byword of what not to do.