Anorak | How Madeleine McCann Became A Fictional Character Called ‘Our Maddie’

How Madeleine McCann Became A Fictional Character Called ‘Our Maddie’

by | 23rd, December 2009

madeliana MADDIE WATCH Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann : Writing in the Guardian , Esther Addley names Our Maddy one of the “Icons of the decade”.

It’s the unsettling mix of the incredibly intimate and the coolly tactical that has made the mystery of Madeleine McCann the biggest and most extraordinary child abduction story in history

No. It isn’t. The disappearance of Madeleine McCann is notable for one thing: the media feeding frenzy. The story itself has one thread: child goes missing. It is a newsworthy event but not the most extraordinary child abduction story in history ”.

The media was attracted not only to the story but to the people involved: middle class, photogenic, erudite professionals. And it helps that Our Maddie is blonde. Addley is right when she says:

Madeleine’s distinctive eye has been central to the search for her since the earliest days. The couple released posters in English and Portuguese in which the letter “o” had been modified to have the same distinctive flash. “Look into my eyes,” read the images: “Olha para os meus olhos.”

Madeleine McCann became a media sensation and a brand. And the parents, savvy media operators, knew its value:

Late in 2007, Gerry McCann gave an interview to an American magazine and talked about the decision to publicise the eye defect. “Certainly we thought it was possible that [the publicity] could possibly hurt her or her abductor might do something to her eye . . . But in terms of marketing, it was a good ploy.”

What it has not done is find Madeleine McCann. The successful marketing ploy, the international campaign to find one missing child, has been a failure. But the single-thread story of Our Maddie, her name itself a media creation, became a thing owned by the press and broadcasters as soon as the McCanns brought in the PRs.

We began to watch the parents. We were invited to. The apparent sightings of the child were part of the show. We didn’t look for Our Maddie we’d never met her. She existed only in video and pictures. She was not real. But we could watch the parents. The press wanted something to happen. It

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Posted: 23rd, December 2009 | In: Madeleine McCann Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink