I can remember a period in the mid-'90s when my mom forbade me from looking at the magazines in the grocery store checkout. They were plastered with pictures of a little girl around my age, whose bright blue eyes and bouncy blonde curls were so perfectly doll-like that at first glance she didn't seem to be real. But JonBenét Ramsey's face is the kind that sticks in your mind. She was a radiant, beautiful child — that's one reason people still remember her. Another one: her tragic murder, which has remained unsolved for nearly 20 years. Conspiracy theorists, not to mention actual detectives, are still stuck on decoding clues that would finally break her case. Now, a video making the rounds suggests that JonBenét has been alive all along — and living her life undercover as the singer Katy Perry, no less. The theory is not only insane, it's highly offensive to the Ramsey family after everything they've been through. In 2014, YouTube user Dave Johnson posted a video in which he claims, via voice-over, that Ramsey is living undercover as Katy Perry. "Nobody died, nobody got hurt. That sacrifice was in name only, and that was to get something, and that something was to become a star," he says. "JonBenét became Katy Perry, and that’s a fact.” The video suggests that Perry's parents are actually Patsy and John Ramsey in disguise as Keith Hudson and Mary Perry. "He shaved his head. She lost some weight," Johnson explains, as though that's enough evidence to prove that four distinct people are, in actuality, two skillful pretenders who have been keeping up a decades-long charade. (Patsy Ramsey, a former beauty queen herself, died in 2006; her ex-husband, John, has since remarried. Katy Perry's parents are both alive and present in their daughter's life.) The problem here isn't Johnson's proof or lack thereof: The video is inarguably invalid, and no one is entertaining the idea that there's any truth to it. What's fucked up is that — even though we all know there isn't a kernel of truth in the theory — it's still making the rounds on the internet, where people are suddenly comparing a dead child's features with those of a 31-year-old pop singer.
JonBenét Ramsey is a victim who never got justice, never mind the opportunity to grow up and speak for herself. Saying that the theory itself is nuts while simultaneously calling out similarities with tongue in cheek makes light of a very real tragedy. There is no good reason for plastering the internet with photo mashups of that little girl and a preeminent pop princess. It's as cheap a move now as it was when her face was all over the checkout aisle — and JonBenét's memory deserves so much better.