Of course, it only took a few hours for the nation’s relief around the rescue of Cleo Smith to centre sensationalised Hollywood narratives rather than the title girl’s trauma and healing, with WA Premier Mark McGowan already discussing casting for a movie.
In probably the best news to come out of this truly cursed and distressing year, four-year-old Cleo Smith was found and reunited with her family on Wednesday, after going missing for 18 days from a campsite in Western Australia.
The nation has been holding a collective breath for over two weeks that has finally been released — only for WA Premier Mark McGowan to immediately make tone-deaf centring his own view of this tragic story in what seems to be… almost a brag?
Addressing the media on Wednesday just hours after Cleo was found by police in a locked home, McGowan spoke about how huge it was that the police were able to rescue her.
I understand he is likely very emotional and proud of the WA Police force, but just let the investigation finish and the family spend some time together before pitching to Hollywood
— Amber Robinson (@missrobinson) November 3, 2021
Look, I know we are all incredibly excited about Cleo Smith being found, and it’s all anyone is talking about. And for good reason, because finding her relatively safe and sound is truly a miracle.
But we also have to remember that this is a real little girl, who is old enough to remember what happened to her. We don’t know how she was treated or what she experienced in the 18 days she was missing, or how her family will recover from the trauma of losing their child.
The end of this story is heart-warming, but it’s the beginning of another story — one of recovery and healing from trauma.
Just a reminder that a real girl and her family will have years of trauma processing ahead.
It’s important we respect that, instead of basking in our own feelings, pretending we are all in a giant cinema watching a thriller movie, cheering the rescue scene.
— Nina Funnell, Journalist & Survivor advocate🎗️ (@ninafunnell) November 3, 2021
Mark McGowan was probably just incredibly elated to see Cleo well, and I don’t think he meant to say something so odd, but shifting the conversation from the little girl’s health and safety to movies being made about this story and who the casting will be (????) is incredibly tone deaf.
The comments are icky because they immediately talk about Cleo’s story as it if belongs to the public, and is ours for consumption, when it’s not.
This isn’t a Criminal Minds episode, and Cleo isn’t a character. She is a real little girl who experienced a trauma most of us only read about, and we shouldn’t centre our excitement from such a sensational story when really, we have no idea what she went through and how this will impact the rest of her life.