Murphy’s Law – Guilty of being hot

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

It’s always been my goal to whore out this site I’ve worked so hard to create in order to afford the life of luxury I so richly deserve. And chances are any day now HoboTrashcan will finally become lucrative enough for me to fulfill my lifelong dream of selling out to the man. But on the off chance that things don’t quite work out that way, I’ve come up with a backup plan …

I’ll start a life of crime.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – it’s not worth the risk. While I certainly have the intelligence and charisma necessary to become a master criminal, if a Batman or Richard Castle-esque hero happens to catch me, I’m far too mild mannered and dependent on high speed Internet access to make it in prison. But, fear not, dear reader, even if I get caught, there’s no chance I’ll actually do any jail time.

You see, according to a Cornell University study, attractive defendants are 22 percent less likely to be convicted of a crime than unattractive ones. On top of that, even when they are convicted, attractive criminals get an average 22 months less time in prison.

Cornell graduate Justin Gunnell and Stephen Ceci, a professor of developmental psychology, conducted a study entitled “When Emotionality Trumps Reason,” which examined how jurors make decisions. They found that some foolish, misguided jurors actually make decisions using logic and facts (and probably a few things they’ve overheard on episodes of CSI and Law and Order) while other, wiser jurors decide cases emotionally, using outside factors like attractiveness to help make the call.

Gunnell and Ceci studied 169 Cornell psychology undergraduates, categorizing them as either rational or emotional decision-makers using an online survey. (Incidentally, I would love to see that survey.) The test subjects were given case studies of defendants, which included a photograph and profile. Then, they listened to jury instructions and closing arguments of the case. Attractive defendants didn’t fare much better than unattractive defendants in serious cases with strong evidence, but in minor cases with weak evidence, jurors were more likely to side with the attractive accused. (No word on if Gunnell and Ceci factored in the effects of having an intimidated Demi Moore or a revenge-seeking John Cusack on the jury looking to sway the outcome.)

According to this study, I have to avoid committing any major crimes if I my looks are going to save me. So my plans for an elaborate bank heist or a series of Gone In Sixty Seconds-esque carjackings is out. (It’s probably for the best though – I don’t have the hair to pull off being Nicholas Cage and I flat out refuse to be Giovanni Ribisi or Scott Caan.) I figure my best bet is a series of petty crimes where I steal nice clothes and expensive hair care products. That way, if I do get busted, I’ll have my lawyer explain that the real crime would be failing to stylize this ruggedly handsome body and this thick, beautiful hair. And, if that doesn’t work, I can always find a schlubby, pathetic fall guy to pin my crimes on. I’ll seat the unkempt Clint Howard-looking bastard next to me and leave it to the jury to decide which of us deserves to pay for my crimes.

And after they find me too sexy for that jail and the judge tells me I’m free to head back to my luxurious bachelor pad filled with all of my ill-gotten goods, I’ll try not to let my mind wander too far during my daily mani/pedi, or else I may begin to contemplate the fact that I live in a society where we continually prop up and reward people for possessing physical traits that we arbitrarily deem to be superior. I’ll try not to dwell on the fact that next time I’m walking to the store, I’ll be forced to look over my shoulder wondering if the cute brunette walking behind me is really a dangerous psychopath that some moronic jury deemed too pretty to go to jail. If I’m not careful, I’ll even begin thinking about how our culture has become so superficial that women starve themselves to look like the vapid, anorexic, Photoshopped starlets they see on the covers of “women’s” magazines or that a no-talent, backstabbing, phony asshole like Jay Leno continues to be rewarded, even in failure, because his jokes are easy to digest, he’s quick with a fake smile and his set features bright, soothing colors and flashy graphics. Furthermore, I’ll try not to think about how this superficiality carries over into Hollywood, which has become so obsessed with giving us style over substance that they continually churn out soulless remakes of movies from my childhood, casting borderline Autistic, charisma-less, male-stripper- turned-actors like Tatum Channing in the lead role since women pretend he’s charming because they got all hot and bothered watching him dance in some shitty, forgettable chick flick. If I can keep my mind from wandering, I won’t have to feel a pang of guilt as I wonder who will speak up for all of the wrongfully-accused ugly people currently rotting away in our corrupt prison system, realizing that, ironically, even if someone did care enough to tell their story, when Hollywood got the movie rights they would inevitable cast Brad Pitt and George Clooney in the lead roles.

Yeah, it’s best not to think about that kind of stuff. It’s not pretty.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at

  1. Joelle May 19, 2010
  2. Paige May 19, 2010
  3. Milhouse44 May 20, 2010

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