Gypsy Rose Blanchard and the Glorification of True Crime


Evie Bell-Brown discusses the glamorised figure of Gypsy-Rose Blanchard in the media

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Image by IMDb

By Edie Bell-Brown

Gypsy-Rose Blanchard: a social media celebrity or glamorised criminal? GypsyRose is the most atypical influencer social media has seen. Only a month after her release she currently has 8.3 million followers on Instagram, and nearly ten million followers on TikTok. With her selfie titled ‘first selfie of freedom’ reaching over 6.5 million likes, with comments such as ‘the queen has returned’ and ‘slay!’, Gypsy’s rise to fame certainly gives an eerie sense of the dystopian world we now live in; some even compare the strange situation to a Black Mirror episode. In the current climate where ‘cancel culture’ is so prominent on social media, why are people supporting someone who played a part in the murder of their mother?

Gypsy-Rose Blanchard was a victim of both emotional and physical abuse caused by her mother DeeDee Blanchard, who is now believed to have suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy. This psychological disorder occurs when a parent or guardian fabricates their child to have an illness or sickness for their child, to gain sympathy, attention, money, and control over the child. In Gypsy’s case, DeeDee forced her to use a feeding tube and constantly use a wheelchair, despite her ability to walk easily and eat food orally. It is a form of child abuse, as not only did DeeDee fake Gypsy’s supposed illnesses such as leukaemia and muscular dystrophy, but she would also manipulate Gypsy and many others into thinking she was younger, by changing her birthdate which caused Gypsy at the age of 19 to think she was 15.

The story of Gypsy-Rose Blanchard began to gain attention following the release of the 2017 documentary Mommy, Dead, and Dearest as well as the dramatised 2019 TV show The Act starring Joey King as Gypsy and Patricia Arquette as DeeDee; Patricia then went on to win an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her performance. Their unique story undoubtedly would be a source of fascination for true-crime fans, with elements such as psychotic mothers, medical lies, and forbidden sex. Following the release of this media, it is understandable how many people sympathised with Gypsy and viewed her as a victim after she endured years of abuse from her mother. The public’s perception of her shifted from ‘mommy murderer’ to an unfairly incarcerated hero.

Gypsy was arrested along with her then-boyfriend Nicholas, who were initially both charged with first-degree murder. However, Gypsy then pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for which she was sentenced to ten years, and Nick was charged with a life sentence. She was released on parole on 28 December 2023, three years earlier than her initial release date. When Gypsy’s release date was announced publicly, she had already acquired lots of attention on social media with people posting memes on what they will ‘show’ Gypsy when she is free, such as Lana Del Ray’s music and a blue raspberry vape.

Technology and social media have had a huge influence on true crime, and now people’s opinions on criminality have become inconsistent. Dramatised films and television shows of true crime cases are more popular than ever. Disturbingly as a society we seem to enjoy gain entertainment from people’s pain and suffering as evening entertainment. Some TV shows that retell stories (such as Netflix’s Dahmer and even Hulu’s The Act) without asking for the victim’s or family's consent and cause more damage than good, by re-traumatising the bereaved. But what happens when the victim is alive and standing to tell their own story, like Gypsy?

Gypsy is currently the object of the internet’s attention, despite her not labelling herself as an influencer, but instead an activist aiming to use her platform to spread awareness for Munchausen by proxy. She has been unwillingly catapulted into an influencer lifestyle. She has been labelled with many positive pop culture nomenclatures references such as ‘girl boss’, ‘mother’ and ‘queen’, which all have positive connotations of connote someone who we should aspire to be like and idolise. Gypsy-Rose has now been given a heroine status for someone who once was perceived to be a villain. She has become someone, a part of the ‘stan’ culture, which poses an ethical problem for society, yet also has damaging impacts on her.

Gypsy’s most viral and questionable moment was when she responded to trolls who criticised her husband by claiming that ‘the D is fire’ and Ryan ‘rocks her world every night’. This is a taste of normal, adult life for Gypsy which she missed out on for many years, so inevitably she is going to cater to the attention she receives. Despite her honest intentions, social media users would rather watch her do a ‘GRWM’ sponsored by Drunk Elephant than watch her share her experiences as a victim of Munchausen by proxy syndrome and spread awareness. Influencers have become more disposable than ever due to ‘cancel culture’; the life cycle of an influencer is becoming shorter and shorter. For Gypsy, people’s obsession with her won’t last forever, and the consequences of a short-lived fame could be destructive for someone who has already suffered so much.

Note: Gypsy-Rose Blanchard has recently left several social media platforms.