Sunday, April 19, 2015

Assessing Societal Damage Inflicted By Cheesy Propaganda Emanating From "Dragnet" and "Law And Order"

Remember the "Dragnet" episode where the baby drowns in the bath tub because the parents are high on marijuana? Young people will watch this episode and ask, "Is this a comedy?'

No, it was not a comedy. It was hard hitting, realistic drama brought to the small screen. This wasn't your father's favorite western. Oh no, this was real life.

There were other episodes where drug users were just as clownish. No, the series doesn't hold up very well, as least not for dramatic effect or edification. "Dragnet" reruns are unintentionally campy (if that is not a contradiction in terms.)  Yet, drug laws were made by people whose only knowledge of the subject came from Jack Webb.

I remember reading a poignant essay in the 1970's about the drip drip drip impact of "Dragnet." It was a cautionary tale about propaganda. Sadly, "Dragnet" had a huge cultural impact despite its silliness.

The second run of "Dragnet" only lasted four years (An earlier version of the show ran for eight years but it was light on social and political commentary.) "Law And Order" ran for 20 seasons, is perhaps the most popular rerun in history and spun off four other series: "Law And Order: Special Victims Unit", "Law And Order: Criminal Intent", "Law And Order: Trail By Jury", and "Law And Order: LA" Depending on the standard used, it is perhaps the most successful TV show in history.

To say I watched "Law And Order" is like saying I watched the weather. Sadly, someone close to me loved the show. I had a job where I supervised the people who supervised group homes and staffed apartments for an array of serviced populations. I would show up to check the books and receipts and "Law and Order" was often (seemed like always)  playing in the background. It was popular with both resident and staff alike.

I would later work at a small mental health/detox establishment. One of the most popular shows was, drum rolls please..."Law And Order..." in all of its many variations. Staff made two "rule of thumb" observations about viewers of "Law and Order". One, viewers of the show usually viewed the show to the exclusion of all other shows (and it was seemingly rerun ALL OF THE TIME.) Two, clients who preferred to watch "Law And Order" usually did not do well in treatment. Make of that what you will.

There has probably never been a TV show with the broad appeal of "Law And Order." Critics loved it and it was viewed by artists and intellectuals as well as folks on the left side of the Bell Curve.

I am perhaps the only person I know who dislikes "Law and Order". It is cheesy, formulaic, stupid, and predictable. The stories are "ripped from the headlines." I am not big on wise ass government agents and I will skip over the pain inflicted by Ice-T, an actor challenged not just by the English language, but by language itself. More insidious than the steady stream of hokum is the overt propaganda and its damaging effects on society.

Good vs. Evil is a hibernating formula as Authority vs. Evil carries the day. There but by the grace of Munch go I. The lead characters threaten and intimidate innocent people. They bring charges against people knowing the charges won't stick because they are not guilty of said charges and this is advanced as the morally correct course of action.

"Law And Order" aggressively promotes a politically correct agenda. PC slaps you in the face, PC over the head, PC up the nose, and PC down the throat. Consensual is consensual but don't you feel a little bit violated after watching that show?

One of the first times I saw "Law And Order" was in 1992. From IMDB: A teenage drug addict claims that a nun molested her at a treatment house, but the investigation leads an accusation of rape involving the chief executive of the facility.

Because other women fled the shelter and met with untimely deaths, they decided to pursue murder charges against the chief executive. It was almost a commercial for the welfare state. Without treatment on demand, shelters and whatever else we feel like funding, women will die of AIDS and drugs and the hazards of the street. In other words, if you take a NIMBY approach to addiction treatment, there is blood on your hands as well. Worse yet, it was presented as noble and forthright and caring to bring homicide charges against the rapist for frightening the poor women enough to exit his shelter.

This isn't a scholarly study so maybe my observations are skewed. However, it did seem like rich white men accounted for most of New York's crime and it seemed like if it was mentioned that a character was Christian, he was up to no good. Gay men are often the victims of hate crimes and gay witnesses fear discrimination should they testify. In one episode a young gay man is murdered and his father, a Jerry Falwell prototype, is woefully insensitive to his son's demise.

One of the spin-offs, "Law And Order: Special Victims Unit" seems to have but one theme that is repeated over and over and over: Privileged white kids get away with sexual assault because of their wealth and status. Which brings us to current events:

Quoting "New York Times" via Ann Coulter concerning the discredited University of Virginia gang rape story: "The New York Times' Charles Blow wrote a column on the CJR report, suggesting that although this "one particular case" of a fraternity gang rape had been "shown to have flaws," the "overall condition that it illustrated holds true." 

How does Mr. Blow know about the overall condition so well?  I cannot prove it but I suspect it's the drip drip drip of "Law And Order." I bet Mr. Blow has watched many an episode of that celebrated show. I bet too, the editors of "Rolling Stone" are fans of the show including Sabrina Erdely. For that matter, the esteemed members of "Columbia Journalism Review" have probably watched the show and its spin-offs many, many times.

Let's recall once more the false rape accusations leveled against the Duke lacrosse team in 2006. Briefly, the prosecutor would be disbarred, the accuser would be convicted of murder, the lacrosse coach would get fired, players would be publicly shamed and would strike back with lawsuits against the school and city...

And yet, students and faculty and media were convinced of the lacrosse players' guilt. Why? The drip drip drip of "Law And Order"? 

In assessing the probability of a woman being raped on a college campus, people who should know better--government officials--greatly overstate the frequency of the crime.  Once more, "New York Times" via Ann Coulter: 

"Always the last to know, Blow also defended Obama's nonsense claim that 1 in 5 college women will be raped by citing a Washington Post "Fact Checker" from May 1, 2014, which merely called the figure "problematic" -- a resounding confirmation of the statistic, as far as Blow was concerned. 

Unfortunately for Blow, about six months after the Post's fact check, that rating got downgraded to "utter B.S.," when Eric Holder's Justice Department released a study of nearly the past decade of crime statistics, finding that 0.61 percent of college students are victims of sexual assault, not 20 percent. That makes it .03 in 5, not 1 in 5. "

How do people like Charles Blow and Barack Obama miss so badly? By a factor of 33!!! I suspect they watch "Law And Order"  




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