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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Tuesday, November 1, 2005
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT ran a disclaimer before tonight's episode stating that it contained "graphic language" and that parental discretion was advised. The plot concerned a neo-Nazi organization suspected of a sniper attack at a public school in which one 6-year-old black boy was shot dead and a little Jewish girl maimed. Words such as "kike", "porch monkey", "hebe" and "nigger" popped up as dialogue, which presumably was the reason for the opening disclaimer. I have no qualms with the series using these and other racial epithets in the episode, as to do the show without them would undoubtedly have watered down the dramatic tension.

What I find curious is that NBC found it necessary to warn us about these words in a television series that routinely traffics in the rape and murder of children, frequently uses profanity like "son of a bitch", and often leaves no detail unexplained when dramatizing lurid crimes (for instance, a recent episode that involved a beautiful young woman who drugged men and shoved an electric vibrator up their rectums to steal the semen from their involuntary ejaculations was so bizarre, even the characters commented on it).

I don't have a problem with this type of material. The series in general is obviously not aimed at an audience of children, and it airs in an appropriate 9:00pm (Central) timeslot. L&O: SVU is a show of above-average quality, skillfully produced by intelligent, creative men and women, and its very premise guarantees that its stories will be morality tales focusing on humankind's worst emotions and actions. Racism and anti-Semitism are unquestionably among them. Words like "nigger" and "kike" are repugnant and reprehensible. But the show's use of those words in tonight's episode was not, and I don't think NBC, by issuing an advisory, needed to apologize for it. They certainly didn't "warn" us of what happened about a minute later, a little boy being struck by a bullet and falling to the ground with a pool of blood pouring from his fatal head wound. What do you think is more disturbing?

Posted by Marty at 10:32 PM CST
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