"It could happen to anyone" reflects one of the police investigating a series of date-rapes set up via match.com. That comes clear through the course of this video, which is part of the True Hollywood Story series on the widely-viewed E! cable-and-satellite channel.
Four separate cases reveal nothing in common between the various victims, which include a whole string of names on the computer of a Walter-Mitty security guard who presents himself (a bit over-theatrically) as a doctor and trainee astronaut. The one interviewed is a 37-year old marketing executive who looks and sounds well able to take care of herself, but ends up getting raped while in a coma. The lesson here is that the woman is having to form her first impression of the man from his own web-page, whereas an initial face-to-face meeting would have enabled her to use her intuition and eliminate those who felt wrong and smelt wrong.
The second case shows how social media can set up online slanging matches which become overheated and potentially fatal. A teenager reacts badly to being dumped by his girlfriend, and posts a lot of indiscreet messages, which prompt her new boyfriend to bring a gang round to shoot him. This lays bare another danger - that the dialogue is conducted in private, with parents all unaware that great dangers may be brewing just up the stairs.
Third is to do with the cyber-bullying of a gay schoolboy, who enlists Lady Gaga's help in an anti-bully campaign, but still hangs himself at fourteen ("too young for the responsibility", as someone remarks).
Last and most poignant is the case of 17-year old Brooke, beautiful and brilliant, who appears to have the world at her feet. Perhaps because of a broken home (though her absent father claims to have been devoted and supportive), she is into older men, whom she locates easily through Craigslist. Having made her pregnant, her boyfriend is keen that they should buy a home, and suggests that she should "meet men for money". This leads to a disastrous rendezvous, ending with all three dead.
The editing is slightly odd. It comes over as a series of short clips, interspersed with blank, silent intervals which may or not have been intended - reminding me of De Niro's 'Raging Bull' that is meant to reflect the basic boredom and emptiness of a boxer's life away from the ring. Perhaps online predators find the internet firmament to be mostly empty space after all.
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