As I sit here playing TV catch-up, watching my Tivoed copy of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit from Tuesday, I find myself just about at the end of my rope with the whole damn Law & Order franchise. This particular episode essentially preaches about same sex marriage, while other episodes have sermonized about a broad range of hot-button issues. The moralizing, preaching, and political pandering has increased over the past couple of years in all three (and last year, four) of the Law & Order series. Clearly, NBC and Dick Wolf have decided that the popularity of these programs provides a convenient pulpit from which to preach the liberal gospel.
It rankles me enough that the writers of Law & Order portray the vast preponderance of perpetrators of violent crime as white and affluent, but the last thing I want in viewing a cop show is to observe cops and prosecutors arguing the finer points of Emma Has Two Mommies—to hear them preaching from the perceived high moral ground of their electronic soap boxes. I’m looking for blood, guts, a good mystery, cops being cops, and a crook being brought to justice. I sure as hell don’t want a sermon. I used to enjoy the tough-guy pathos of Lenny Briscoe (the late Jerry Orbach), the mind-games played with suspects by Detective Goren (Vincent d’Onofrio), and the good-cop/bad cop stuff on SVU. I used to. No longer. These were excellent cop dramas until this political crap started up. Now, they’re becoming annoying. So, they think they’ve got us hooked and they can preach to us at will? Think again!
Law & Order’s successful formula at the outset, fictional dramatizations of high-profile “front page” crimes, brought the franchise to where it is today. Alas, the increasing politicization of what used to be entertainment portends its eventual demise. Law & Order is getting a bit long in the tooth anyway, and polarizing the shows with Hollywood’s distorted notions of what America “should be” will cause even more audience attrition. We’ve already seen one flop: last year’s attempt at a fourth unit, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, which was apparently a bridge too far for Kommissar Wolf and the Politburo at NBC. Additionally, the transition from Jerry Orbach to Dennis Farina as the lead character of the Wednesday night opus will hasten its decline. (No knock on Farina, but Orbach’s Lenny Briscoe was an immensely popular character. The series might not have enough time left for Farina—whose face is ubiquitously seen in dozens of movies and TV shows, playing cops, gangsters, and even comedic characters—to develop his character deeply enough to achieve that same level of popularity.)
I’m not checking in with an opinion about same-sex marriage. What I am saying here is that I don’t want to be preached to about either this subject and the veritable plethora of other issues that Hollywood is pushing at any given time under the guise of presenting a cop show. If they wanted to consistently present both sides of a controversial issue, then I wouldn’t accuse them of moralizing; nevertheless, that would transform a cop show into something that belongs on Sunday morning. If I want to get the skinny on issues of the day, I’ll watch Sunday morning talking heads. If I want a damn cop show, I don’t want it to be polluted with this sort of political crap. After all, enjoying a good drama is an escape from the day-to-day partisan politics that gives us all sour stomachs, no matter whether our personal wind blows right or left.
All this political posturing under the guise of presenting entertainment—spreading the Post Modern, moral relativistic liberal word—ought to be investigated. If Hollywood can use its immense persuasive power to promote a partisan cause, is this not tantamount to making significant political campaign contributions? GOP Bloggers, an obviously non-liberal opinion site, thinks so. They proposed that the FEC [Federal Election Commission] ought to regulate liberal Hollywood. If that were to occur, every episode of Law & Order could potentially end with a voice-over by the liberal front-man candidate of the moment, whoever that might be. “I’m John Kerry, and I approved this message.”
I could go on and on, but instead of writing more drivel, I’ll point you toward a particularly well written opinion piece entitled Mustn’t See Liberal TV by Cinnamon Stillwell for SFGate.com. She does a much more comprehensive (and far less crude) job of presenting her case than I do here.
Let me sum up this rant by saying that there is a positive benefit for me in all of this. After giving up watching Law & Order, I shall spend three more hours a week reading and three fewer hours watching the idiot box.