Let's get this out first: Mark McLeod is just plain weird.
Other than mental illness - which is entirely possible - there's no other way to explain the 53-year-old Appling man's obsession with teen pop star Miley Cyrus.
Our community's reaction to McLeod's arrest for stalking 16-year-old Cyrus while she filmed a movie in Tybee Island has been a collective case of the snickering willies - laughing at his sad-sack misfortune, and creeped out by his alleged crime.
McLeod, currently being held in a Savannah jail, eventually will have his day in court. But if his attorney is worth a nickel, expect Cyrus' massive publicity machinery to go on trial, too.
McLeod's friends say his fawning fascination with Cyrus grew into an unhealthy obsession after he signed up for Cyrus' fan club. He'd send e-mails to them, they said, and club staffers would respond - leading McLeod to believe he was communicating directly with the object of his inappropriate affection.
Eventually, McLeod sold some of his prized possessions to pay for jewelry that he thought he was mailing to Cyrus - and which potentially has wound up in the hands of the staffers who were yanking McLeod's e-mail chain.
These exchanges took place not just for days or months, but for nearly two years. There needs to be answers from those Cyrus staffers who kept stringing McLeod along, feeding his obsession - and the court should demand them.
To make matters potentially worse, a recent New York Times story noted that other celebrities are taking tips from Cyrus' marketing efforts, including her use of a company that makes personal, recorded calls to fans.
That's cute stuff if it's a 12-year-old getting a message from a teen idol. But it's just a little frightening if it helps push an already unbalanced adult over the edge.
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