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Straight Menace
January 31, 2014 3:38 AM   Subscribe

"I talked to a lawyer about suing, but there wasn't nothing we could do.... Because [The First 48] shows 'All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty' at the beginning of the program, they're covered."

A&E shirks responsibility for episodes that broadcast incorrect information, and spokespeople confess the channel doesn't re-edit or correct flawed programs beyond stating at a show's end that murder charges were dropped. "We simply film the investigations as they unfold," a spokesperson said. "Every episode states clearly that all individuals are innocent until proven guilty."

posted by frimble (53 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
How are they "alleged witnesses"? Is that a very specific law term? It would appear to me that you either saw something or you didn't, and that your witnessing could be misconstrued.

Then this guy spends three years in jail, only to have his charges dropped (and this is after the three "alleged witnesses" recanted...)? I'm only 5 minutes into reading this and that's all it took for me to know I am not going to sleep the rest of tonight :/

One of my best friends/an old roommate of mine got arrested for something he was accused of. When he was found to be innocent his mugshot was still on the internet, and it was only until I told him how to get it off that it got off. Potential employers could have found that, or other people with worse ambitions, even though he was found to be innocent. That's why I am totally against these magazines such as Busted that simply advertise these peoples' mugshots before they even get a chance to go to trial and defend themselves. It's lewd and totally immoral.
posted by gucci mane at 4:01 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


The recantations, along with the fact that prosecutors withheld police reports from Coker's attorney showing that investigators had information on another suspect, led the Harris County District Attorney's Office to drop the charge.

Fuckers. They should be in jail; prosecutorial immunity for basic violations of due process is bullshit.
posted by mediareport at 4:43 AM on January 31 [18 favorites]


Why don't they just call the show Lynch Mob Fuel and be done with it?
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:51 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


How are they "alleged witnesses"? Is that a very specific law term? It would appear to me that you either saw something or you didn't,... this is after the three "alleged witnesses" recanted.

Didn't you answer your own question there, or am I not understanding? A witness didn't see what they initially said they did if they later recant it, surely? (assuming no coercion). So they're an alleged witness until they firm up their witness statement legally.
posted by Brockles at 5:13 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


"Reality Television" is starting to take on a disturbingly Orwellian tone.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:17 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Frankly I don't see how they people holding a camera on the investigation are the ones at fault when the cops railroad an innocent man. It's not like that never happens when a camera isn't around.

Evidence suggests that the television show puts undue pressure on police departments to hurry their investigations

Really? Well, for a while there, evidence suggested that Coker was a murderer. But it turned out that evidence was wrong... It's a hell of a stretch to suggest the actions taken by these cops and prosecutors was all because they were so intimidated by a free-cable reality TV crew that they threw their usual by-the-book diligence out the window just to impress their new friends... especially given that the prosecutors aren't even on the show.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 5:31 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Frankly I don't see how they people holding a camera on the investigation are the ones at fault when the cops railroad an innocent man. It's not like that never happens when a camera isn't around.

There's a distinct difference between being railroaded in your city and being railroaded across the entire country. Sure, it's only basic cable, but still.
posted by Etrigan at 5:55 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


Kent Brockman: [Rounding out a news story on Homer's sexual harassment scandal] Now, here are some results from our phone-in poll: 95% of people believe Homer Simpson is guilty. Of course, this is just a television poll which is not legally binding. Unless proposition 304 passes, and we all pray it will.
posted by lalochezia at 6:27 AM on January 31 [10 favorites]


I thought, based on "COPS" bad boys, bad boys article a while back, where the slimy producer there was trying to justify what they show, that any/everyone you see on TV that doesn't have their face blurred out signed a waiver to be shown. But this article doesn't mention anything like that. Is there something different about this show ?
posted by k5.user at 6:32 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


I never understood why the production company didn't have to have the people on camera sign a release. I've read on some shows the person willingly signs the release because he has some fantasy the show will help him prove his innocence or think "gee I'll be on TV!"
posted by birdherder at 6:33 AM on January 31


After preview, what k5.user said.
posted by birdherder at 6:34 AM on January 31


This is fascinating to me, because I interned at A+E Networks a few summers ago, and making sure the crime shows were up to date was, quite literally, my only job.

It was painfully boring work... watching 5–6 hours of television a day really sucked. But every day, from 9:30–5:30, I sat in a cube in a Midtown East building, reviewing episodes of Cold Case Files, Investigative Reports, American Justice, and pretty much anything else Bill Kurtis had ever touched at the network. We also fact-checked whenever mob-oriented shows would air, the occasional Biography that dealt with criminals, etc.

Every episode of every show in our purview had a printed report, neatly organised in file cabinets (by yours truly). Each report detailed the content of the show, air dates, important phone numbers, interview notes, etc. At the start of a day, my supervisor and I would split a stack of reports—based on what was being aired in the next month or so—and spend the rest of that day watching episode after episode, only stopping to do searches on LexisNexis, Google News, and some other sources to make sure everything we showed was accurate. Occasionally, we called the police or district attorney in the area where the episodes were set, just to verify things.

If something wasn't accurate (I can't remember an instance where something I screened was inaccurate, but my memory sucks) we would make a note on the report, along with a correction, and it would get sent to editing to add a text card to explain the latest update, or make whatever changes were necessary. I was told we also re-dubbed narration on occasion, although I never encountered this process (the updates were usually so minor that it wasn't typically necessary). I don't think we ever made sweeping re-edits, but I don't remember a situation where it ever would have been warranted.

The process was so methodical (and downright boring) that I'm kind of amazed A&E didn't have someone doing this for The First 48. My department never worked on that show, but I find it really hard to believe that they went through this kind of trouble for shows that had long been out of production, but didn't do it for the shows that were still in production.
posted by cvp at 6:49 AM on January 31 [37 favorites]


prosecutorial immunity for basic violations of due process is bullshit

You can't seriously be suggesting that an upstanding, typically white, Christian professional be censured for just doing his job? Certainly not. Mistakes happen, that's all.

Our mistakes are harmless, no-fault, acts of God Almighty.

Your mistakes send you to prison for life you filthy amoral scumbag.
posted by aramaic at 6:56 AM on January 31 [10 favorites]


MetaFilter: Your mistakes send you to prison for life you filthy amoral scumbag
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:57 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


More about the 7-year-old girl Detroit killed by the police while filming an episode of this series.
posted by mkb at 7:02 AM on January 31


I'm always amazed at the COP HATE on Metafilter. I know there are numerous instances of miscarriages of justice and police brutality in the US, and they too make my blood boil.

But remember there's a lot of guys (and girls! They show them on The First 48!) out there who I sincerely believe are trying to do this extremely difficult job to the best of their abilities. And they are up against some tough odds and situations.
posted by kuanes at 7:04 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


And they're not the ones withholding evidence of innocence from the defense lawyers, kuanes.
posted by mediareport at 7:08 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


"Reality Television" is starting to take on a disturbingly Orwellian tone.

It's been this way for a while. I exclude shows like Survivors which people sign on to get cash; those are more like extreme game shows.

But then you have shows about people having interventions, desperately poor backwoods people, hoarders, families with out-of-control children, and of course people who commit crimes or are accused of committing them. Why do we watch these often sad, sometimes played-up-for-the-camera stories? To reassure ourselves that we aren't them of course. A 20-Minute-Mock instead of a Two-Minute-Hate.

I mean, I am interested in things like "why do people become hoarders" or "what is it like to have 20 kids" or "what happens when someone is accused of murder" and I can imagine a way of telling these stories that wasn't exploitative, but I think exploitation is precisely what a lot of people want. So that's what we get.
posted by emjaybee at 7:08 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


trying to do this extremely difficult job to the best of their abilities

Let me know when they start ratting out their corrupt, incompetent, steroid-raging fellow cops to the best of their abilities.
posted by aramaic at 7:10 AM on January 31 [36 favorites]


"Reality Television" is starting to take on a disturbingly Orwellian tone.

I wish TV would become more like reality, instead of reality becoming more like TV. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 7:13 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


How are they "alleged witnesses"? Is that a very specific law term?

Yes. It is a way of saying that these are people who claimed (alleged) they were witnesses, and that is all we are saying. We are expressly not saying they actually were witnesses. This can be a form of ass-covering, and of course it can also be a way of implying that those persons were not actually witnesses.

Any time someone wants to mention that a statement was made without appearing to agree that the statement was accurate, the word "alleged" is used.
posted by slkinsey at 7:13 AM on January 31


Way to stereotype, aramaic.

I'm not a cop apologist/defender, I just don't get the hate that obviously flows through your veins for police. There are some very bad people who are, unfortunately, in law enforcement. There are also very many good people who actually protect us. Watch the show sometime and see a family's heartfelt thanks to the detectives who solved a homicide case.

Seeing everything through some myopic lens of ALL COPS ARE ASSHOLES! makes me feel sorry for you and those like you.
posted by kuanes at 7:14 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


"Reality Television" is starting to take on a disturbingly Orwellian tone.

Forty Three Minutes of Hate ....
posted by tilde at 7:20 AM on January 31


Right now, kuanes, in my town alone, two cops were just acquitted after going to the wrong house and shooting an innocent old man in his garage. Another one has just been charged with pulling a woman over, then raping her.

Every day, there are horrific stories of police abuse in the news. But nothing gets better. And not all cops are bad; but the ones who are, seldom seem to get punished, and of course, the people they hurt and killed are still hurt, or dead. Cops have too much power, and too little oversight or pushback when they abuse that power. In this country those of us that pay attention know that we are at their mercy and that if they do decide to hurt or kill us, the chances are good that they'll get off with a slap on the wrist, if that.
posted by emjaybee at 7:21 AM on January 31 [27 favorites]


Here's a third one, reported on Jan 16 in the Miami New Times.
The tragedy inflicted upon this wrongfully accused man, however, is only the latest injustice in this show's history. In Detroit, city police shot a 7-year-old girl in the head in a bungled attempt to catch a suspect on The First 48. In Houston, another man was locked up for three years after cops wrongfully accused him of murder within the first 48 hours. And in Miami, according to a New Times examination of court records, at least 15 men have walked free of murder charges spawned under the program's glare.

Despite it all — sloppy crime scenes, rushed arrests, ruined lives — The First 48, which has now reached its 13th season, is as popular as ever. Millions of Americans tune in to every new episode, and with ratings as seductive as these, who cares about a few botched investigations?
If we find a few more, we'll have our own longform collection!
posted by tilde at 7:24 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I mean, I am interested in things like "why do people become hoarders" or "what is it like to have 20 kids" or "what happens when someone is accused of murder" and I can imagine a way of telling these stories that wasn't exploitative

Documentaries used to do this. Reality TV is cheaper and has a more reliable revenue stream.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:24 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


The topic isn't "cops" per se, it's about chasing and filming cops during the tumultuous, dangerous and lens-friendly arrests and takedowns, and then airing it, without balance or due process, especially when the subject is later exonerated.

Policing is a tough, demanding and often thankless job. But the televised arrest-porn glorification of the few violent moments of a long hopefully thorough (therefore boring) investigation is a deeply flawed portrayal.

Soooo glad we don't have cable, and that we actively shun any such "reality" tv.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:27 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


While I get the freedom of speech issues at play, I believe that other than straight-up news reporting, alleged criminals should never be shown on TV. Twenty years ago there was much less chance of your entire life being ruined because a clip of you being falsely arrested on TV wouldn't have worldwide distribution in a matter of minutes.

Obviously there's no way to legislate this, which is confounding.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:29 AM on January 31


I mean, I am interested in things like "why do people become hoarders" or "what is it like to have 20 kids" or "what happens when someone is accused of murder" and I can imagine a way of telling these stories that wasn't exploitative, but I think exploitation is precisely what a lot of people want. So that's what we get.

I actually believe that Wife Swap is a really fascinating serial documentary about class and wealth disparity in America, unfortunately ruined by obnoxious narration, editing, and musical cues.
posted by theodolite at 7:31 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


Kuanes, for the most part, the fact that there are "well-meaning", or even competent, police officers does not make up for the systemic pressure on them to get convictions.

To begin with, they are trained by police academies to believe that some people are good, and some people are worthless scum, and often come to believe that they can tell which you are by looking at you. As much as anyone, police are subject to their own perceptions of reality around them, and it serves their interests on many levels to believe that they are underdog forces for good fighting against mountains of evil and unrepentant liars, thieves, hypes, and murderers.

In law school, I learned about social science data that suggested that people who tend to become cops have all kinds of psychological quirks that make them likely to abuse their own authority, and the evidence bears this out all the time.

One of my former students is married to a young man who became a cop during their marriage, and it's clear how his view of 'humanity', and our community, has changed -- to the extent that he explicitly talks about African Americans as inherently criminal.

So -- cops: good or bad peoples? is not really the question. But they are trained up in a way that makes them likely to abuse their authority, and make snap judgments based on truly horrid forms of oppression. Then they are put in a system that makes "closing the case" synonymous with "doing one's job", and doesn't make too many distinctions about whether it is closed with an innocent person in jail.

Here endeth the sermon.
posted by allthinky at 7:34 AM on January 31 [10 favorites]


Are we talking about police now? I thought this was a thread about A&E ruining innocent people's reputations by not taking the trouble to portray them accurately on one of their shows. Maybe we could talk about that, and save Police Argument no. 513 for another thread?
posted by Scientist at 7:40 AM on January 31 [11 favorites]


I'm always amazed at the COP HATE on Metafilter. I know there are numerous instances of miscarriages of justice and police brutality in the US, and they too make my blood boil.

But remember there's a lot of guys (and girls! They show them on The First 48!) out there who I sincerely believe are trying to do this extremely difficult job to the best of their abilities. And they are up against some tough odds and situations.


Nobody in this thread was talking about any cops outside of the ones involved with the instances in the article before you posted that, or gave any indication that they didn't remember that there are lots of guys and gals out there that etc.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:40 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


Hey emjaybee, we live in/near the same town!
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:56 AM on January 31


For those wondering about the need for releases, I believe that when charges are filed, an issue passes into the sort of "public interest" arena where privacy concerns no longer rule. So if a dude's just being arrested (like on COPS) then their privacy is protected. When actual criminal proceedings begin, it's public.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:02 AM on January 31


While I get the freedom of speech issues at play, I believe that other than straight-up news reporting, alleged criminals should never be shown on TV. Twenty years ago there was much less chance of your entire life being ruined because a clip of you being falsely arrested on TV wouldn't have worldwide distribution in a matter of minutes.

Obviously there's no way to legislate this, which is confounding.


It's a difficult issue. For example, Rob Ford has not been convicted yet, but the accusations against him are obviously newsworthy. But then you have some random person like the one mentioned upthread, arrested but not convicted, but whose online presence was hurt by that and possibly their job prospects/future. And that seems manifestly unjust, given that anyone could be arrested regardless of their innocence, for a variety of reasons.

Reputation management is so much harder these days. We leave such bright, discoverable trails anymore. If I went out this weekend and protested something, and got arrested as protesters often do, and it was mentioned in the paper, would my employer take notice and use it against me? Or even fire me? They could, even though I did nothing wrong. And this has always been true.

But then if it was archived online, and I tried to get a job elsewhere, but that search result came up for me? Would I be unable to get another good job? What would that do to me and my family?

Or god forbid, what if my arrest were being filmed, and now my face and my name was on video in a very unflattering way, rerun on A&E periodically? What effect would that have on my life?

I'm not sure what kinds of laws could address these things.
posted by emjaybee at 8:15 AM on January 31


Make US-based search engines set aside the top result for a person's name with a notice of dropped charges or acquittal if that happens, and make it a requirement that law enforcement and/or the courts submit these notices to a centralized service that then pushes them out to all the search engines that fall under the law, as soon as charges are dropped or someone is acquitted, maybe. An official public record of exoneration that automatically gets better search results than the de facto public record of charges from news articles and such.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:06 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure what kinds of laws could address these things.

One possibility, by no means perfect: give anyone featured on the show a slice of the action, so to speak.

So, if a given episode featured two arrests, each person shown being arrested will receive in perpetuity one-third of all income from the airing of said episode. Adjust for "recap" episodes or anthologies as needed.

Not profit, income. One third to each arrestee, one third to A&E. Let A&E figure out how to make the profit. This way even if your life gets screwed up by a crappy TV show, at least you receive a permanent residual income.

...hell, to make it more palatable to the right-wing, say that if you're actually convicted your share goes to a victims fund or something.
posted by aramaic at 9:07 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


But then if it was archived online, and I tried to get a job elsewhere, but that search result came up for me?

I had a client who was charged with a very low-level crime, which in my professional opinion she didn't actually commit. She had no prior record, and the charge was dismissed relatively quickly through usual court procedures. However, the charge was of an embarrassing and stigmatizing nature, and the local newspaper decided to publish a story about her arraignment. She had a fairly unique name, and just to eliminate any confusion the newspaper also published a headshot of her standing in court. (They didn't cover more serious crimes arraigned at that session, nor are photos typical.)

That "news" article stood on Google for five years before someone at the newspaper was willing to take it down. It absolutely affected her life and her ability to get work. They published it because it was salacious—or, as close as their small town ever sees—and I believe they refused to remove it because someone got on their high horse about the "right" to free press. In my experience, people who talk a lot about rights often don't think very much about responsibilities.

Reputation management is so much harder these days.

Indeed. And more than ever the onus is on us as individuals to think critically about the information we find, and to give people the benefit of doubt.
posted by cribcage at 9:18 AM on January 31 [14 favorites]


> Rob Ford has not been convicted yet,

The law already has completely different standards for public figures and private individuals, so this analogy is very much a non-starter.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:19 AM on January 31


kuanes: "Way to stereotype, aramaic.

I'm not a cop apologist/defender, I just don't get the hate that obviously flows through your veins for police. There are some very bad people who are, unfortunately, in law enforcement. There are also very many good people who actually protect us. Watch the show sometime and see a family's heartfelt thanks to the detectives who solved a homicide case.

Seeing everything through some myopic lens of ALL COPS ARE ASSHOLES! makes me feel sorry for you and those like you.
"

Perhaps because you have not been on the end of things that gives one the perception that cops are the enemy. Maybe you could stop generalizing from your own experience and try to understand that for a lot of folks (typically those of us who have a bit more melanin) the cops are not our friends.
posted by anansi at 9:28 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


I had a client who was charged with a very low-level crime, which in my professional opinion she didn't actually commit. She had no prior record, and the charge was dismissed relatively quickly through usual court procedures. However, the charge was of an embarrassing and stigmatizing nature, and the local newspaper decided to publish a story about her arraignment. She had a fairly unique name, and just to eliminate any confusion the newspaper also published a headshot of her standing in court. (They didn't cover more serious crimes arraigned at that session, nor are photos typical.)

That "news" article stood on Google for five years before someone at the newspaper was willing to take it down. It absolutely affected her life and her ability to get work. They published it because it was salacious—or, as close as their small town ever sees—and I believe they refused to remove it because someone got on their high horse about the "right" to free press. In my experience, people who talk a lot about rights often don't think very much about responsibilities.


Oh geez, that's awful. In the past I've had to post wanted fugitives to a news site, and we'd fairly often have things where the person contacted us after the capture and serving their sentence and said "Ok, I've done my time now, I'm trying to get my life back together, could you please take my name and photo down." and we'd always give them the benefit of the doubt and do it.

For just regular crime reporting, we'd almost never find out through official channels if someone was acquitted or had charges dropped after a story, unless it was really high profile, and it was always the person themselves or someone that knew them that had to tell us. It's shitty, because there's no way to just track everything afterwards with our resources - I wish there was some kind of legally-mandated technical solution like if you do a story on someone in the legal system, you have to flag them for updates in whatever official database the courts have, so you get automatically notified of status changes and then must make a follow-up mention and go back and edit the original story online, or something. It would be a headache still, but much less of a headache than how it is now.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:31 AM on January 31


Not the show's fault.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:46 AM on January 31


Personally, I think if you watch true crime television, you're a terrible person. You're going to let somebody else's misfortune be your entertainment? Really? (Don't get me started on people who watch L&O:SVU either.)
posted by entropicamericana at 9:50 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Not the show's fault.

It would be nice if the show, on reruns, amended the text at the end of an episode to reflect the current situation.

You might see a bit of positive feedback if law enforcement agencies participating on the program realize that on any subsequent airing their actions would be reviewed given the current state.

Not gonna happen, but that's really the problem.
posted by linux at 11:04 AM on January 31


Well, the problem about how the cops feel added pressure because of the camera.
posted by linux at 11:10 AM on January 31


You might see a bit of positive feedback if law enforcement agencies participating on the program realize that on any subsequent airing their actions would be reviewed given the current state.

More likely you'd see a sudden unwillingness to cooperate with the show on the part of various law enforcement bodies. There's a reason nearly every "embedded" or "behind the scenes" presentation of police or military action tends to play up one side as heroes by default and treat the other as de facto villains.
posted by kewb at 11:12 AM on January 31


That's why it's not gonna happen.
posted by linux at 11:13 AM on January 31


We leave such bright, discoverable trails anymore. If I went out this weekend and protested something, and got arrested as protesters often do, and it was mentioned in the paper, would my employer take notice and use it against me? Or even fire me? They could, even though I did nothing wrong. And this has always been true.

But then if it was archived online, and I tried to get a job elsewhere, but that search result came up for me? Would I be unable to get another good job? What would that do to me and my family?


As an ancillary example, there's the online database of people who signed the petition to recall Scott Walker as Governor of Wisconsin. It combines the state court records, sex offender registry, tax delinquency list, and political donations. A small army of (right-wing activist) volunteers matched signers to the state voter list, and if you pull up a listing, there is even, I shit you not, a QR code linked to that specific record. It isn't inconsequential, either; it's come up in the appointment of a student representative to the University of Wisconsin board, in political campaigns by signers, and recently in a signer being a reporter on a story critical of the governor.
Weirdly, I'm not in the database, so I have to wonder if the sheet I signed was submitted, or was just a failure in the transcription process.
posted by dhartung at 5:29 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


signing a petition is a public act, not a private one - the public's interest in being sure that those who sign a petition actually exist outweighs any concern about privacy

don't like that? don't sign
posted by pyramid termite at 6:24 PM on January 31


on the subject at hand, i think anyone who becomes a public figure due to false accusations of murder, what have you, should be compensated for it - if they're convicted, then, fine, they're guilty and the media can say what they want without compensation

but if they're innocent and they're being dragged into the public eye unwillingly, they've lost something very important and those who are profiting from this misfortune need to compensate those whose lives are being turned upside down by it

this is a bullshit culture full of bullshit mass hypnosis in the name of bourgeois self-righteousness and i refuse to support it by having a tv - it's getting evil and shows like this are the proof

i'm not missing a damned thing = this shit is SICK
posted by pyramid termite at 6:31 PM on January 31


Personally, I think if you watch true crime television, you're a terrible person. You're going to let somebody else's misfortune be your entertainment? Really? (Don't get me started on people who watch L&O:SVU either.)

I've never understood the appeal of true-crime tv, despite being a bit of a fictional-crime tv addict. True crime tv is absolutely exploitative of real people. Fictional-crime tv is certainly problematic, but as someone who's worked with a lot of victims of sexual assault and tried to involve myself with public policy issues around sexual assault, I love Law & Order: SVU because it provides a wish-fulfillment fantasy in which detectives and their superiors and DAs and ADAs all really care about catching the perpetrator and are all wonderful people whom I would want around me if I were to be assaulted.

So, I know it can be rape-porn, in a lot of ways, but I think it's also empowering, in a lot of ways, as a way of envisioning a society that actually cares about victims.
posted by jaguar at 6:35 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


And I should append -- after rereading my comment, I'd say the reasons I like Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU are the exact reasons why true-crime tv is horrible. The fictional versions stomp all over civil liberties in the pursuit of the truth; this works in a fictional setting where we know the writers have given us a bad guy who is one of the characters in this fictional universe. True-crime tv acts as if those fictional-tv constraints are also true, as if one of the "characters" introduced into the investigation in the first 15 minutes of the show must be guilty, and ruins real people's lives because of it.

(I'm very aware that the normalization of automatic submission to police authority demonstrated in fictional-crime tv is a problem that seeps into the real world, too. That awareness can't really overcome my girl crush on Mariska Hargitay, though.)
posted by jaguar at 6:41 PM on January 31


I love Law & Order: SVU because it provides a wish-fulfillment fantasy in which detectives and their superiors and DAs and ADAs all really care about catching the perpetrator and are all wonderful people whom I would want around me if I were to be assaulted.

and, of course, the lead characters are sexy as fuck, because it is important when you are watching drama about rape and child molestation that you can simultaneously get turned on, and that's not a mixed message or anything.

"Reality Television" is starting to take on a disturbingly Orwellian tone.

reality tv, leaked sex tapes and photos, that goofy star wars kid, pics of some anonymous dudes on a train some woman claimed were talking about cheating on their wives, people dressed poorly at walmart. our growing consumption of these things, even as the lack of consent of the subjects grows more and more apparent, has been a gradual process of giving implicit consent to having our private lives exploited for the purposes of entertainment. we used to justify it when it happened to celebrities because it's part of the job; now we view everyone as a potential celebrity, because the presumption is that everyone wants to be.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 5:43 AM on February 1 [2 favorites]


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