The Gabby Petito Story is unsurprisingly bad

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“Why should the world care about our journey?” Brian Laundrie (Evan Hall) asks his fiancée Gabby Petito (Skyler Samuels) about halfway through the story of gabby petito, the New Lifetime film based on true death of 22 year old woman. In the scene, the two had just started their cross-country road trip from Florida to California. So far in the film, Laundrie has not supported Petito’s ambitions to become a travel blogger, poking fun at her desire to document her journey. From this point, the exchange between Laundrie and Petito only escalates, ending in Petito’s murder, of which he is eventually found guilty. As it turned out, the world really cared and did care about her journey… but for it all wrong reasons.

Released on October 1, just a few weeks after the first anniversary of Petito’s death, The story of Gabby Petito reportedly tries to show Petito’s side of the story by trying to “derive the most realistic portrait of what their relationship could have been like.” corresponding Director Thora Birch. Lifetime said the film aimed to “bring Gabby and Brian’s doomed love story to life, including the warning signs that Gabby’s life was in danger,” and even released the film as part of it Stop violence against women Public Affairs Initiative. But the crux of the film – Petito and Laundrie’s relationship – is entirely fabricated, pure speculation intended to satisfy the public’s perverse interest in the case.

Petito’s case gripped the nation in August 2021 after she was reported missing by her family en route. With the help of fans who had followed her blog as well as people who had taken interested in her case, after she went missing, eventually the police found Petito’s remains at a Wyoming campground. After being on the run Laundrie’s body was also for weeks recovered at a Florida wildlife sanctuary, where he had committed suicide and left a confession of responsibility for Petito’s death.

Aside from the typical search for horrifying true crime stories for cheap entertainment – which the film and television industry often does, retraumatize families and Survivors – which feels the most annoying The story of Gabby PetitoThe imaginative depiction of domestic violence is characterized by a particularly tight, straightforward depiction. Perhaps inadvertently, a particular narrative not only creates what intimate intimate partner violence (IPV) looks like, but who “deserves” to be “saved.”

Prior to her road trip, the film characterizes Laundrie as ruthlessly controlling — she calls Petito every hour while she’s at work, freaks out when she’s spending time with her new girlfriend Rose, and proposes to her to make sure she never sees him can leave. And once they’re out, Laundrie becomes increasingly jealous of men who interact with Petito, from farmers market vendors to random guys who comment on her social media posts and yell at her until their fights turned physical.

Petito fights back in a few scenes: During a break from the street, Laundrie overhears a phone call between Petito and her mother, in which she discusses the intense ups and downs of their relationships (“I feel like I don’t know where this is going leads”). In the next scene, when Laundrie confronts Petito about the call, she directly addresses the incident where Laundrie hit her in Utah, even explicitly calling their relationship “toxic.” And finally, in the couple’s fictional breakup scene, Petito ignores Laundrie’s promise that he’ll change, telling him, “We’re not a good match,” before explaining that the trip was “enlightening” for her about the reality of their relationship.

By making Petito the perfect victim and Laundrie the perfect villain – especially in a way based on little to no fact –The story of Gabby Petito recreates a sterilized version of Gabby’s struggles in a lame attempt to avenge her. If Petito hadn’t always fought back, she still wouldn’t have deserved to be murdered. Had Laundrie been less abusive and more popular with Petito’s friends and family, he could still have been a credible perpetrator of IPV. Instead of humanizing Petito as they wanted, the filmmakers only managed to caricature her, stripping her of any decision-making power over her story that she may have retained posthumously, and trading it in for her own fanfiction.

Halfway through the film, after the couple were given a 24-hour no-contact order following a physical altercation in Utah, Petito’s friend Rose almost manages to convince her to return to Florida without Laundrie. But as Petito pushes the van forward, her phone card pointing home, she decides to drive to the hotel where Laundrie is staying instead. This might be the film’s most honest scene: one that points out how difficult it actually is to leave abusive relationships, which often alternate between periods of violence and harmony.

in one expression Published by The AWARE Foundation, Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmit, said: “We thought our followers should know that the Lifetime film about Gabby Petito has no connection to the Petito family, nor have they given their consent. Lifetime took it upon themselves to make the film.”

As Schmit’s statement makes clear, The story of Gabby Petito it’s not about giving her family a sense of healing or uncovering the truth about what happened. In fact, one could even argue that the film isn’t about Petito at all: everything The story of Gabby Petito wants to appeal to the people who are parasocially obsessed with her, even beyond the grave. The Gabby Petito Story is unsurprisingly bad

Adam Bradshaw

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