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CH-CHUNG
February 3, 2011 7:46 AM   Subscribe


 
Way more interesting read than I expected. Thanks.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:56 AM on February 3, 2011


This brings back memories of the undergraduate paper I wrote in which I assessed the depiction of mentally ill people in Law & Order episodes. Not surprisingly, mentally ill people were, in L&O-ville, largely suspects or perpetrators, vs. the stats I found for the real world which suggested they were more commonly victims.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:59 AM on February 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


This was awesome. As a hopeless SVU addict, I want to see the same charts for L&O:SVU and NYC sex crime stats.
posted by spitefulcrow at 8:00 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because of timing and cable issues, I've never really seen this show more than a couple times, but I think I ought to check it out. The level of personal drama creep and ongoing "villains" in other procedurals gets on my nerves. I've heard that Law & Order is pretty good at sticking to the main focus.
posted by ODiV at 8:03 AM on February 3, 2011


Oh, and thanks for the link. Really interesting stuff there.
posted by ODiV at 8:04 AM on February 3, 2011


CHUNG CHUNG
posted by schmod at 8:08 AM on February 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Excellent! Now do this by DA and cop combo. *taps foot impatiently*
posted by norm at 8:08 AM on February 3, 2011


Giuliani didn’t just fight crime, he fought crime in a lot of very visible ways that average New Yorkers would take note of. I don’t mean to take anything away from his acheivements — there was a remarkable drop in crime during his administration. But even before the murder rate started dropping, Giuliani created a strong public perception that there was a new sheriff in town. He restored people’s faith in law and order, and Law & Order immediately responded.

That is one narrative of events. There are others.
posted by three blind mice at 8:11 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don’t know why Law & Order: Compstat Meetings wasn’t more popular.
posted by nicwolff at 8:14 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd like to see a graph of how many people keep loading boxes into trucks, folding garments in clothing stores, delivering packages, serving drinks, and other wise walking, moving, and casually working while being questioned by homicide detectives on L&O, versus how many people do this in real life when questioned.

Because frankly, if some detectives came into my job and started asking me about a friggin' murder, I think I would probably, you know, stop working, stand completely still, and answer their questions.
posted by notmydesk at 8:14 AM on February 3, 2011 [54 favorites]


This was pretty awesome! I really loved the "implied guilty" category. It reminded me of a paper I wrote in grad school about how the writing and structure of L&O generally pretty clearly telegraph to the viewer if the suspect is really morally guilty (b/c sometimes they have suspects who the audience knows committed the act, but the audience is made to feel that the act was justified). This understanding of guilt is used to manipulate the viewers' feelings wrt the justice system--we are meant to feel vindicated when the suspect is convicted, but outraged when the "guilty" person is set free or found not guilty (esp. as this is usually portrayed as being a result of some judge throwing out some crucial piece of evidence.)
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:16 AM on February 3, 2011


CHUNG CHUNG du du du du dahhhhhhhhh. *SYNTH GUITAR RIFF*

My SO is really really into SVU. I fell in love with the theme song.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:20 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don’t know why Law & Order: Compstat Meetings wasn’t more popular.

Season 3 of The Wire is fairly well regarded.

Anyway, I expected this chart to compare actual plea/conviction/acquittal rates, but it doesn't touch on that at all. Most people are unaware of this fact, but in the United States a ridiculously high number -- variously cited as 90%, 95%, or even more -- of criminal cases result in a plea bargain. In part this is because when someone is arrested for a serious crime, the plea bargain often dismisses or very lightly sentences their earlier minor offenses, which are sort of handled as riders rather than the central part of the case.

But despite the fact that plea bargains almost always mean some sort of punishment and guilt is accepted, this is perceived by the public as "getting off lightly" or some such. Before our local paper cut off comment on crime stories (the discussions often became personal and ugly), you'd routinely hear comments like "our liberal DA pleas out everything", as if he were somehow an anomaly. People didn't even care that taking every case to trial necessarily would mean a much higher rate of acquittals (at least if juries truly performed the "beyond a reasonable doubt" test) and a tenfold increase or more in prosecution staff, and there was a persistent belief that a plea wasn't the same as a "real" conviction.
posted by dhartung at 8:30 AM on February 3, 2011


I wonder what the impact of seeing extremely moral, highly-competent police who fail to get their man only a statistically insignificant amount of the time on TV every week (or four times a day, if you have cable) does for our perception of the legal system.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:30 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


And I say that as somebody who will sit and watch Jerry Orbach, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Sam Waterston for hours on end.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:32 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because frankly, if some detectives came into my job and started asking me about a friggin' murder, I think I would probably, you know, stop working, stand completely still, and answer their questions.

Well, yes. But then you wouldn't have a director telling you that you needed to make an exposition-heavy show more visually interesting to the viewer.
posted by orange swan at 8:33 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if people are more inclined to find shelves to stock or trucks to unload while being asked questions by police these days due to the influence of Law & Order.

As I've said before, I haven't seen much of the show, but in this and every other it seems strange to me that pretty much everyone talks to the police. Hasn't anyone ever seen that "Don't talk to the cops" video?
posted by ODiV at 8:38 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The graph comparing the Law and Order "conviction" rate and the total number of murders in NYC makes no sense to me, nor does the commentary associated with it. It's just wild conjecture, based partially on the myth that it was Giuliani who suddenly turned around crime in NYC.
posted by snofoam at 8:40 AM on February 3, 2011


It's hard for me to be concerned with how the statistics of this show relates to real life when it is, in fact, just an extension of a fantasy of an autistic child.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:42 AM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Because frankly, if some detectives came into my job and started asking me about a friggin' murder, I think I would probably, you know, stop working, stand completely still, and answer their questions.

Don't talk to the police.
posted by inigo2 at 8:53 AM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


CHUNG CHUNG

Clearly it should be DUNG DUNG.

(As I recall, this is one of those topics that MeFi "doesn't do well". Trolling accomplished.)
posted by brundlefly at 8:58 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Law and Order: Special Letters Unit.
posted by norm at 9:02 AM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'd like to see a graph of how many people keep loading boxes into trucks ... versus how many people do this in real life when questioned.

I would say this is pure television. Three people standing still talking is visually boring, even though, yes, if two homicide detectives came to talk to me, my first thought would be, "Holy shit. Let's all sit down and focus on keeping my ass out of prison."

So, you have two detectives barge into a place of business, only everyone brushes them off by continuing to work. Now there's something visual to look at, and there's a little bit of tension and drama. "The guy loading the truck doesn't seem to want to talk to the police. Maybe he's hiding something?"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:03 AM on February 3, 2011


(I should have spelled this out; L&O:SLU was linked primarily because of its strong advocacy for "chung chung".)
posted by norm at 9:05 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


inigo2: Yeah, that's the video I was talking about. Still though, if everyone followed the advice in the video, I have to wonder what that would do to the police's ability to enforce the law. No willing witnesses would put a huge dent in the amount of information the police would be able to collect. They report to the scene of a crime and everyone they try to talk to refuses without a lawyer.
posted by ODiV at 9:09 AM on February 3, 2011


This is fantastic, but the linked Batman Completion blog is hilarious.
posted by Judith Butlerian Jihad at 9:12 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is fantastic, but the linked Batman Completion blog is hilarious.

Agreed. I've been reading it for an hour now.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:13 AM on February 3, 2011


David Simon: Here’s a fact. This is an honest to god fact. Last year there were more corpses on the three Law & Order franchises, which are all set in Manhattan — there were more dead people shown on that show than there were actual homicides in Manhattan.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:19 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


i'm guessing that rape and molestation are far more entertaining on l&o:svu than in real life, too. but then again, who among us wouldn't want a sweet DILF interviewing us after being sexually assaulted?
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:23 AM on February 3, 2011


Regarding the "don't talk to the police" video advice, I believe it's understood that you reasonably think that you may be a suspect. If you are an innocent-bystander-witness to a crime, it's not likely that the police will try to build a case against you.

I have tried to watch Law & Order. Y'all don't need to hear my two cents about the show. I love the statistical analysis, though. Cool post!
posted by Xoebe at 9:25 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I only ever really watched SVU; I used to watch Criminal Intent but my desire to punch Vincent d'Onofrio's character in the face nipped that in the bud.

I would like to see a comparison between the budgets of the fictional SVU and its real equivalent. The amount of money that could be spent not only on forensics but also a trips to Canada and Prague (!) to catch people is astounding.
posted by dhens at 9:32 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


dhens: It frustrates me how many shows don't have people get punched or shot when they should be.

"He's right there! You have a gun! Why aren't you shooting him? Is it because he's on contract for another two seasons?"
posted by ODiV at 9:35 AM on February 3, 2011


The NUMBER of MURDERS ≠ the CRIME RATE. The NUMBER of MURDERS ≠ the MURDER RATE. The NUMBER of ANYTHING ≠ the RATE of ANYTHING.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:40 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


notmydesk: Because frankly, if some detectives came into my job and started asking me about a friggin' murder, I think I would probably, you know, stop working, stand completely still, and answer their questions.

And that's why you weren't cast in L&O. We know, we know, you were could have been an extra and you even shook the hand of the guy who made the Chu-Chung sound between scene cuts. You were great at folding clothes in that department store, you really portrayed a likable sales clerk, you nailed your lines and you didn't look into the camera. But when you were asked questions, you just stood there, like you had never talked to cops before, like this was the first time you were questioned about the murder of your close friend and co-worker. This is going to hurt, but we're friends, and friends tell you the hard truths.

You make boring TV.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:49 AM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Regarding the "don't talk to the police" video advice, I believe it's understood that you reasonably think that you may be a suspect. If you are an innocent-bystander-witness to a crime, it's not likely that the police will try to build a case against you.

Nope, that's precisely his point: even if you're innocent you still shouldn't talk to the police.
posted by Jahaza at 9:51 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, episodes where there's no suspect and the case goes cold for lack of clues are boring. Episodes where the perp gets off on a technicality are good for a change, but shouldn't happen too ofter, or the system seems flawed or the cops seem dull. Episodes where things don't end well can only happen so often, because we want some closure. Reality is more boring than TV, and a messier to boot.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:53 AM on February 3, 2011


Because frankly, if some detectives came into my job and started asking me about a friggin' murder, I think I would probably, you know, stop working, stand completely still, and answer their questions.



Have you EVER been to NYC? The cops are constantly asking so many questions of everyone that no ever bothers to stop doing what they're doing anymore. Nothing would get done!
posted by orme at 10:09 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Episodes where the perp gets off on a technicality are good for a change, but shouldn't happen too ofter, or the system seems flawed

Weeeeeeellllllllllll...
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:10 AM on February 3, 2011


The conviction rate on L&O:Chicken is not so great. Probably because chickens even in real life are not above vigilante justice.
posted by Alison at 10:16 AM on February 3, 2011


This is fantastic, but the linked Batman Completion blog is hilarious.

Agreed. Lede = buried.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 10:16 AM on February 3, 2011


CHUNG CHUNG
Clearly it should be DUNG DUNG.
(As I recall, this is one of those topics that MeFi "doesn't do well". Trolling accomplished.)


I believe brundlefly is referring to this thread (if not others). In order to advance the debate about this most crucial detail, here is a list the various interpretations that came up in that discussion (in no particular order):

chung chung
dung dung
dun duuuh
doonk doonk
TCHRNG tchrng
Doink-Doink
HARROOO! HARROOO!
Chunk Chunk
DUM DUM
SHUNK SHUNK
BAWK BAWK
and, as jquinby pointed out , CHING CHING, according to Dick Wolf.

My question: is it pronounced differently in each borough in NYC?
posted by Kabanos at 10:34 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I clearly recall seeing promos for the show featuring some of the actors talking about the show, and more than one of them pronounced it as "DUNT DUNT."

That's canon as far as I'm concerned.

Lenny Briscoe, my favorite TV cop ever. Beats Frank Ponciarello hands down without ever touching a motorcycle.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:49 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


The conviction rate of upper-upper class people on L&O is also astounding.
posted by callmejay at 10:50 AM on February 3, 2011


It's too bad NYC lacks the power of Ice-T playing a detective, or it would absorb New Jersey completely and conquer the whole world based on irony alone.
posted by elder18 at 11:09 AM on February 3, 2011


Nope, that's precisely his point: even if you're innocent you still shouldn't talk to the police.

I thought they were talking about people who were "brought downtown" for questioning. But I could be mixing up that video with that episode of Homicide where they're filming a documentary.
posted by muddgirl at 11:27 AM on February 3, 2011



The conviction rate of upper-upper class people on L&O is also astounding.


Plus, if you're a student at Hudson University you will either kill someone or be killed by someone.
posted by drezdn at 11:37 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


You think that's jarring, compare the show Psych, where there's a murder mystery each week, with the actual murder rate of Santa Barbara, CA
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:39 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


...mentally ill people were, in L&O-ville, largely suspects or perpetrators, vs. the stats I found for the real world which suggested they were more commonly victims.

Yeah... this perception is pretty mainstream, but everything remotely objective I've seen supports your assertions. Which is... frustrating. For example, there is a fairly high profile internet "petition" going around that urges people to lobby congress to keep guns out of the hands of "felons, the mentally ill, and drug abusers". Now, I'll cop to being pretty pro-gun control, but seriously that is way too ill defined to be of any use. Lots of felons have little to nothing to do with guns and/or violence, persons with mental illness are significantly more prone to gun violence then they are to perpetrate it, and the most widely abused drug is alcohol.. which is legal. Personally, I say keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, people under the age of 28 and vice presidents.

(not trying to start a gun control derail, my opinions are my own, and I respect opinions to the different)
posted by edgeways at 1:28 PM on February 3, 2011


At least NYC is a big city & I can suspend my disbelief* about the oodles of murders that could take place in the big, bad city. OTOH, I have enjoyed the Inspector Morse murders on PBS and they take place in Oxford, UK where the body count is sometimes ridiculous for a place of that size.

* ok, not really but I try
posted by pointystick at 1:39 PM on February 3, 2011


The NUMBER of MURDERS ≠ the CRIME RATE. The NUMBER of MURDERS ≠ the MURDER RATE. The NUMBER of ANYTHING ≠ the RATE of ANYTHING.


Well, since the numbers here are expressed per year and among a defined population, I'd say that a rate was implied, Mrs/Ms. Smartypants.
posted by docgonzo at 5:24 PM on February 3, 2011


I found this idea via their related posts. Why is there no L&O improv skit yet?
posted by Monochrome at 6:20 PM on February 3, 2011


ex
posted by ryanrs at 6:36 PM on February 3, 2011


I always liked Ben Stone, but he was a really bad prosecutor. Just look how that conviction rate went into the basement after the first year.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:09 PM on February 3, 2011


Monochrome: "Why is there no L&O improv skit yet?"

I've seen CSI improv before. The basic joke involved dramatic removal of glasses.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:51 AM on February 4, 2011


I only ever really watched SVU; I used to watch Criminal Intent but my desire to punch Vincent d'Onofrio's character in the face nipped that in the bud.

But...but...Jeff Goldblum!
posted by Sys Rq at 1:57 PM on February 4, 2011


somewhat off-topic, but for anyone who favourited jacquilynne's comment: it really piqued my interest, and after a little Googling, found this paper on the depiction of the mentally ill in Law and Order:

Mad or Bad? Negotiating the Boundaries of Mental Illness on Law & Order

posted by iona at 5:43 PM on February 7, 2011


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