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Monday, February 06, 2006

Fear Your Television

Why aren’t more movie and TV scriptwriters criminals?

No, no … I don’t mean the bastards who inflicted on us “entertainment” like Big Momma’s House 2 and ABC’s show Invasion. Although those writers do, in fact, deserve Abu Ghuraib for their sins, I’m instead referring to the complexity and creativity of the crooks in heist movies and crime dramas.

Take, for example, films like Ocean’s Eleven. Or Ocean’s Twelve. Anything with the word “ocean” in the title, really. Whoever came up with the theft schemes there should have been ENACTING these plans, not just WRITING about them.

These thoughts took over my brain when I read this article about the “CSI Effect.” If you don’t feel like clicking on the link, here’s a quick summary:

The badguys today are using tricks to destroy DNA and otherwise cover up clues in ways that were largely known only to "insiders" before the success of CSI. Case in point: An Ohio man is accused of washing his hands with bleach (to remove his two murder victims' blood), using blankets in his getaway car (to prevent blood transfer), burning the bodies and his clothing (to, well, burn evidence), and taking his cigarette butts from the crime scene (to keep investigators from getting his DNA).

That's one smooth criminal. And authorities say crime shows are contributing to an increase in the frequency and quality of such cover-ups, leaving police with fewer hairs, fingerprints, and body fluids to obtain valuable leads from.

I have watched CSI, enjoying the bizarre murder plots, the clever evidence collections, and the madcap antics of wacky crime lab leader/party animal Gil Grissom. But only now do I realize that this show is enabling criminal behavior and endangering our well being. It's shocking to hear this, I know: Television—far from being the solution to all of life's problems, as I was led to believe—actually undermines the common good.

With this insight, I now see that this is not the first time a television show has put the public in danger:

Star Trek: This show lulled us into thinking that Spock and other extraterrestrials were OK—funny looking and quirky, sure, but certainly nothing to be scared of—leading us into apathy regarding the alien threat. First people stopped reporting UFO sightings … now we have complete infiltration by the otherworlders, cleverly disguised as local TV weathermean, circus clowns, and U.S. senators.

The Love Boat; You would think, after watching this gem, that cruise ships were floating cities of romance, witty discourse, and happy endings. Not true. Just ask missing honeymooner George Allen Smith. You couldn't get me on a cruise ship now even if the only other passengers were Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba. (OK, maybe … but I'll still want a gun under my pillow.)

The Dukes of Hazzard: Lack of respect for authority figures is only the most obvious of the sins fostered by this amoral monstrosity. And, like a plague, it's a cyclical curse; last year's big screen version inflicted pain and humiliation upon a new generation. For years we will suffer the effects of this show's evil, which ranges from reckless redneck driving to obese women trying to fit their asses into Daisy Duke shorts.

Cheers: It all seeemed like good community fun. According to this sitcom, you just head down to your favorite bar, drink beer all night, become clever and well-liked, and go home and rest so you can do the same thing again tomorrow. Little did we know that there are things like drunk driving, bar fights, and unattractive bartenders to deal with. Not to mention the show's blatant disregard for that most heinous tavern risk—the beer goggles.

37 Comments:

At February 06, 2006 8:08 AM, Blogger Kitty replied to my musings ...

Don't forget some of the others -- or, better yet, even just some of the formulaic principles that were (are) broadly painting across many dramas and comedies alike.

1) If you live in New York, regardless of whether you have a good job, bad job, or no job, you will live in a fabulous, spacious apartment with a glorious view of the city;

2) If you live in L.A., see # 1 above, or in the alternative, you will live in a sprawling mansion complete with a pool up in the hills that looks out over the city below;

3) You always have a core group of friends - always an odd number - with predictable, distinct personality types;

4) There's always a favorite "hang-out" where "the gang" end up every week;

and so on, and so on ...

How many times do you know what will happen before it happens on show after show after show? It's all just a re-hashed formula.



Oops! Pardon me, my cynicism is showing ...

 
At February 06, 2006 8:40 AM, Blogger Metal Mark replied to my musings ...

I was watching Scooby Doo the other day thinking ...."Man, I wish I could quit my job so I could be like the crooks on this show. I could go find a place where a treasure was supposed to be. Then look for it, but sometimes I would have to get a rubber monster mask and go "whoooooo" and wave my arms around to scare anybody else away so I could look for the treasure by myself." I gave up on this idea though because I thought some meddling kids and their dog would end my brilliant plan.

 
At February 06, 2006 10:39 AM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At February 06, 2006 10:42 AM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

Star Trek: Some aliens were nice, others were down-right nasty. "Nancy Crater is a shape-shifting creature, the last survivor of M-113, and can literally appear as a different being to each person "she" meets. By reaching into their minds and drawing on their memories, the creature can lull her potential victims into a false sense of security before killing them." The analogies to our contemporary political process should be obvious.

The Love Boat: Obviously a floating cold war torture chamber where the eyes of the victims were burned out with laser bright smiles and their minds were turned to mush with the dastardly use of elevator music and knockout drugs. Sure you thought you were having a good time, only to wake up with a sense of violation.

The Dukes of Hazzard: "Never meaning no harm" as they parade around with explosives in jeans so tight that they cut of circulation to the legs and obviously, the brain.

Cheers: A reactionary off-shot of dark scientology where the worshippers of Xenu meet to plot the subversion of all things good and pretend not to notice the meat stuck between each other's teeth.

 
At February 06, 2006 11:07 AM, Blogger FredCQ replied to my musings ...

Good post but I have to say that the scriptwriters who gave us Big Momma's House 2 should be treated as criminals and dealt with accordingly. The FBI is still hunting down the writers of the god awful Dharma and Greg.

 
At February 06, 2006 11:52 AM, Blogger KC replied to my musings ...

Don't forget that every police captain or prosecuting attorney happens to have a bottle neatly tucked away in their desk for that after 5pm drink between colleagues.

 
At February 06, 2006 12:15 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

It sounds like several of you probably enjoyed the funny interactions in So I Married an Axe Murderer wherein Anthony LaPaglia prodded his cop boss, Alan Arkin, to be more like the cop bosses on TV!

-- david

 
At February 06, 2006 12:51 PM, Blogger cube replied to my musings ...

I enjoyed the post. I shudder to think of the evil that is wrought by TV. I mean just the shows with amnesia-inducing bumps on the head is enough to scare a person into reading a book.

 
At February 06, 2006 12:59 PM, Blogger siren replied to my musings ...

Another great post. I can't help but think that for every one criminal that can mirror the mastermind techniques used by TV criminals, there are a thousand that don't know their a$$ from a hole in the ground. Just an observation :)

 
At February 06, 2006 1:22 PM, Blogger Tai replied to my musings ...

May I humbly add one?

I'd like to insert "Three's Company" in there somewhere.

I loathe that show.

 
At February 06, 2006 1:23 PM, Blogger Kitty replied to my musings ...

David, when Alan Arkin does try to act more like a television boss to Anthony LaPaglia, he is so appreciative of the abuse - priceless.

So I Married An Axe Murderer is classic in that Mike Myers is terrific at combining physical humor with intellectual humor - some of the obscure references and/or the timing and delivery of the reference are what make them so funny.

 
At February 06, 2006 1:28 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn replied to my musings ...

I'm a fan of CSI, and you are so right. I fully plan to cover all my tracks & not leave any loose edges next time I commit a murder. The last time, I wasn't very tidy, and I barely escaped prison on a technicality.
The alien invasion is too far gone. I should know. I am one.

 
At February 06, 2006 1:56 PM, Blogger Ben Heller replied to my musings ...

I DO fear the televison.

I fear that every time I watch Curb Your Enthusiasm I'm going to have a coronory (or at the bare minimum pee myself liberally) through laughing.


Good post.

 
At February 06, 2006 2:05 PM, Blogger Kitty replied to my musings ...

David, I'm 'dealing' in a bit of blog-trafficking in the posting of "View of Television." I trust the authorities don't consider it too illegal as it is occurring over State lines. I hope you don't mind! :-)

 
At February 06, 2006 3:04 PM, Blogger :P fuzzbox replied to my musings ...

I am still trying to cypher out what is the worst show on tv today and I have took it down to two nominees. 'Next' or 'Room Raiders' both are unreality tv at it's worst.

 
At February 06, 2006 3:13 PM, Blogger Pixie replied to my musings ...

I sometimes wonder if these crime shows give people ideas to use in the real world.Your right David who ever rights these Hi-Tech crime shows must enact them out in their heads in intricate detail.

 
At February 06, 2006 11:39 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

Cruising is a lot of fun. I've been on 2 in less than a year. My wife & I went on a 7 Day for our Honeymoon and we just went on a 4 day cruise with a group of our friends. Both cruises were a lot of fun even without Captain Stubing, Gopher, Doc, Isaac, and Vicki.

Oddly enough I once had a dream with Gavin McLeod. We were at a party and I referred to him as "Captain Stubing" he corrected me and said his name was "Murray" (his character on the Mary Tyler Moore Show)... oh well, I guess I stand corrected, even in my bizarre dreams.

As for circus clowns being aliens... is their an alien/clown hierarchy? Do circus clowns fall above or below rodeo clowns in that hierarchy? Inquiring minds want to know!

 
At February 07, 2006 12:28 PM, Blogger angel, jr. replied to my musings ...

I've always wondered how many ideas crimes shows have spawned. And I do feel that these shows may somehow show some people how to cover up their tracks. Or they will show the criminals what sort of DNA not to leave behind.

 
At February 07, 2006 12:36 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

I wonder if TV producers/writers are watched more carefully than the general public for potential criminal action. Something for me to keep in mind if I get into TV writing.

As for your question, Perplexio, ALL clowns are evil. Scum of the earth. Ranking their levels of evil-ness is pointless because they are all creepy and must be sent far, far away.

-- david

 
At February 07, 2006 1:00 PM, Blogger Sar replied to my musings ...

I was all set to leave a serious comment about the potential rammifications of evidence based shows enabling criminals, but after reading your satricial take on past shows, I just can't. I'm lol too much. You're too funny David!

 
At February 07, 2006 6:42 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard replied to my musings ...

I think your "Ocean"-theory has some merit--I can't think of one single movie with the title, "Ocean" in it that doesn't suck.

"The Deep End of the Ocean" SOUNDS like it sucks--it sounds like a "Hallmark Made for TV Original Movie."

This does not portend well for "The Billy Ocean Story," if anyone ever wants to make that.

Movies seem to be way better when you PICK AN OCEAN; e.g., Pacific Heights, South Pacific etc.

 
At February 07, 2006 7:41 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

Zen Wizard: I would hope that if anyone were compelled to do a movie about Billy Ocean they would stop and reconsider. There are other more worthy musicians of the eighties... like the late Falco. ;-)

 
At February 08, 2006 8:11 AM, Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen replied to my musings ...

Dukes of Hazzard - I am guilty as charged...but in my defense, I really had it BAD for John Schneider way back in the day. ;)

Never had beer goggles...but I did have on of those beer hats with the straws? Those were cool, weren't they??? Weren't they???!!!

Damn.

 
At February 08, 2006 10:19 AM, Blogger Kid Jacque replied to my musings ...

It's possible that there is an alien posing as my boss but I can't be too sure.

Now I know I have the TV to thank for this infiltration....

 
At February 08, 2006 10:46 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Kitty: I appreciate the shout-out. And I finally got your link up, too.

Sar: Thanks. You are making me head bigger (which is creating a problem for me getting in and out of my car ...)

ZW, Perplexio: If not a Billy Ocean movie or Falco film, how about a tragedy play based on the career of Milli Vanilli?

Stacy: I find The Dukes of Hazzard, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and pretty much all late 70s/early 80s shows easier to watch while wearing one of those beer helmets. Good call.

Day Dreamer: I know what you mean, except in my case, my boss is psoing as an alien.

-- david

 
At February 08, 2006 12:29 PM, Blogger jay lassiter replied to my musings ...

i am laughing to hard to think of something witty to say!

 
At February 08, 2006 1:25 PM, Blogger Bruce replied to my musings ...

The only good thing to come out of the Dukes of Hazzard was Daisy Duke, and no, I don't mean Jessica Simpson(speaking of bad tv)...

 
At February 08, 2006 1:41 PM, Blogger RT replied to my musings ...

So you did read your horrorscope, David! Why didn't you say something?

Hey! Don't make fun of old TV shows. I learned how to be a really good damsel in distress by watching Hart to Hart when I was a kid!

(Sorry, it's all I could think of. The good comments were already taken.)

 
At February 08, 2006 4:43 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard replied to my musings ...

"Radio Killed the Video Stars: The Milli Vanilli Story..."

 
At February 08, 2006 4:48 PM, Blogger An80sNut replied to my musings ...

I think most film producers, directors and actors should be jailed for trying to create crappy nostalgia fluff that are sometimes only loosely based on the TV original. I stopped watching them after Flipper came out. But, I do think that bringing so much reality to television has only led to the CSI effect.

 
At February 08, 2006 4:50 PM, Blogger Blog Intro replied to my musings ...

This Blog has been Intorduced! on BlogIntro.com

 
At February 08, 2006 10:12 PM, Blogger Ranea replied to my musings ...

Whatever happened to quality shows like "love american style", and "Hee Haw"?

 
At February 09, 2006 7:06 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Hey RT: I did say something, I posted a reply to you right after I made the time to read the "horrorscope." I liked it ... thanks for taking the time to put it together.

-- david

 
At February 09, 2006 12:43 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

There are a few 80s shows I'd actually like to see revived either in film or on TV as new series.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century- But this time make sure the female aliens don't all look like 70s disco queens.

The Greatest American Hero- Believe it or not, I think it would make a good comedy, especially if you cast Jon Heder (Napolean Dynamite) in the lead, have some real fun with it!

Voyagers- This was my favorite show as a kid. A guy in his late 20s and his 12 year old orphan sidekick travel through time righting historical innacuracies. The acting and writing were campy, but the premise was pretty cool and with today's special effects and with better writing acting it would do better than the original did. The male lead, Jon-Erik Hexum went on to kill himself playing Russian Roulette with blanks on the set of the CBS show Cover-Up about a year or two after Voyagers was cancelled. His sidekick, Meeno Peluce, is Soleil Moon Frye's brother. I believe he's still in films and TV, but doing behind the camera stuff now (directing, editing, shit like that).

 
At February 09, 2006 1:22 PM, Blogger Sar replied to my musings ...

David - May I suggest ducking down and in? ;) Just stopped by to say hi. I'm behind in my blogging so I was thrilled to see I'm still current here!

 
At February 09, 2006 8:05 PM, Blogger Anhoni Patel replied to my musings ...

Ah, the dangers of television viewing.

I have to say that CSI must also have prevented some crimes as well. No?

 
At February 10, 2006 2:47 AM, Blogger CT replied to my musings ...

LOL... daisy dukes and beer goggles what a combination...

 

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