When Reality TV Rears Its Ugly Head

I really do love the show COPS. I’ve seen 99% of the episodes over 28 seasons, and there are ~ 25+ episodes per season. The show is absolutely real, but they certainly cherry pick the scenes, and the officers they follow. Further, the TV show is built on a premise of formula of one violent takedown, 1 drug bust, 1 family domestic (if memory serves, and is based on material that is heavily criticized). So tonight, watching the latest episode… cop in the car says: “There was an anonymous caller that just uh… told us there was a warrant suspect in the back yard… he’s known to run from us, he’s alluded capture before so.. we’re going to see if we can uh… take him into custody here…”

Yep, stop there. This is where the TV show, shows its hand so to speak, and demonstrates how it is not objective at all. Nothing about that one minute intro makes any logical sense. The responding officer wouldn’t say “anonymous caller”, as 911 dispatch takes the calls and knows who they are speaking to (even if anonymous, they know the address and name registered to a line with few exceptions). How many people stop to read the most-wanted posters that the local post office? You do? Great, they don’t show local warrant suspects. Those aren’t posted anywhere that I have seen, ever. Known to run from police? The cop knows exactly who they are dealing with then, which is a positive ID. Escaped before? Why… rare case the police stop pursuit during a chase… so, moving on!

The more compelling reason to watch this show? It is reality TV that demonstrates why no unarmed person should EVER be shot by a police officer, no exception. This show actually broadcasts cases where the officer screws up, does something that is against policy, or against training. But there is a struggle, and the outcome is beneficial to the public and police, so they air it. I generally don’t blame those officers one bit. They are a half-second too quick to use mace? Fine. But those are the scenes we see… the taser incidents we see, but rarely if ever in a position of dispute. So consider that police are a bit too eager to mace a suspect, or go hands-on (the real bit we should question), on national TV. Is it so wrong to consider that a police officer would step over the ethical line when no cameras around?

There is a movement to put body cameras on police, and I believe that should happen. If we had the budget, I’d want a COPS camera crew following every unit and publishing that material w/o police oversight. I think it would be very telling. Remember… this TV series shows us the BEST that police have to offer. It is filtered and approved at multiple levels, before it goes to TV.

Now, for your “meta” discussion… it’s 2015, and we’re still seeing violent take-downs of suspects over flakes of marijuana. They are offered deals in the field to admit to their crime, or arrested for having personal-use volumes (by Colorado law), which are illegal in other states. Why is the TV show COPS still showing us these ‘dramatic’ scenes where police officers use physical force over the presence of personal-use levels of marijuana, and someone that is nervous in the face of police, especially when they are minority?

This episode? The suspect says they won’t answer questions until they get an attorney. The cop keeps asking questions… ON NATIONAL TV. Was the officer not trained on Miranda? I’d say YES, since the same cop was reading the Miranda warning from a card they kept in their pocket. If a cop pulled a card to read me my rights? Part of me would appreciate it, as they are doing it to make sure they are read correctly. Part of me would be scared, because they are a professional LEO supposedly… and haven’t memorized the relatively short Miranda warning. If they can’t remember those few sentences, why are they enforcing the law?

Again, I am a fan of the show in many ways. It reminds our society that police activity is not safe, and that law enforcement puts themselves into situations that endangers their lives every single day. But when a heavily edited TV show that has served as propaganda since seasons one, shows police clearly stepping over the lines? The producers need to consider what the fuck they are broadcasting to the world. They are either proper journalists (no..), or sloppy (yes..), and need to quit their jobs.

News Pundits, the Real Tragedy

windbags like Nancy Grace are saying she will *demand* answers about why there wasn’t a better response, why students weren’t told about the shooter, how they could have saved 31 lives if they had, and why [person|group] didn’t [act|react] to [incident|shooter|actions]. she is pointing fingers at the campus administration for not having a better incident response plan, suggesting that if there was a better policy or maybe “shooting drills” (my words), that preparation would have saved lives.

it’s easy to take pot shots like this when you are an ignorant pop tart, but contingency planning can only go so far. the shooting today already broke the mold of “most mass murders” and the faux experts getting air time are already saying that the two hour gap between shootings is very strange, some going so far to suggest that they are coincidental but unrelated. part of this conclusion is due to eye witness description of the shooter is wildly different. even now, we are all waiting for the BATF to test the two firearms recovered to match the ballistics.

so, let’s give Nancy Grace and other vapid whores what they want. if this was one gunman, he took out more people than anyone else as far as domestic shooting incidents apparently. to plan for these incidents, we have to now plan for bigger incidents

criminal profiler (Pat Brown) saying “violent video and games” contributed to the actions. the profile goes on to say that these kind of people see success at previous schools, citing columbine, and “holding the record”. we’re “raising children to be violent” and society is breeding these killers. sorry, there is still a big line between video games and taking two semi-automatic handguns and killing 32 people. besides, if this “video game is teaching..” theory is correct, why don’t we see more targets charge the gunner with bare hands or knives or sticks, just like we see in the same video games? those games teach us that Mr. Ninja can take out the guy with the uzi. “we can stop pornography on the net. we can stop violence on the net.” this criminal profiler is babbling as much as the pundits that litter the ‘news’ channels. yay commercial break, back to my point about bigger incidents.

so, what could the shooter have done for a higher body count and more chaos? (oh no! you can’t talk about this, especially the day it happened!) yes, i can, because fat ass pundits are saying college administration should have been able to save 31 lives if the police told students what was happening rather than “go to your room, stay there, situation is under control” (you know, that whole avoid panic thing). first, assuming it was the same gunman, he could have carefully hidden one of his two guns at some point. police find him and recover one gun, now half of the bullets don’t match the gun and they have no idea if there was a second gunman. that alone could have caused more havoc than anything else. so make sure we have a policy to do an inch by inch search of a 50 square mile college campus if a shooting occurs, in case there are more guns. second, leave half a dozen letters stating different reasons why you did it. give authorities no chance to determine the real reason it occured, so they can’t better plan a response in the future. third, alter small parts of your attire or appearance between buildings/rooms. today’s shooting had two incidents and two different descriptions of the shooter. imagine if someone was trying harder to alter appearance and target groups of people in different areas. if the police don’t know how many shooters there are, can’t figure out the motive and can’t match all of the ballistics .. then what? (oh my god you crossed the line, stop!) not yet. since we’re big on stupid wild speculation and theories, i’ll be the first to go on record stating that the gunman may have been hired by Gonzales so that he could get out of congressional testimony hearings. (oh my god you brute, stop now!) ok. get the point Nancy Grace?

criminal profiler is back, saying police simply can’t respond in time to stop incidents, so we as a society have to “stop pyschopaths from being made.” yah, good luck with that. for the news pundits pondering about gun laws, yes, there will likely be a reactionary response. no, it won’t do any good because outlaws can still get guns one way or another. the only laws that might do good are ones that make possession of illegal firearms a more serious offense and warrant serious jail time. possession of an unregistered gun? 10 years. possession of a gun used in a crime? 25 years. possession of a gun used in a violent crime? 50 years. enact those laws and *enforce* them for several years, and that may begin to deter would-be attackers. oh, it won’t stop the psychopaths still. and now the profiler is saying that if more law abiding citizens had guns, it may stop the shooter as he would enter a classroom and not know who had a gun and could fire back. wow, someone actually saying that on the news! yes, that deters some types of violent crimes (see Arizona and other areas with lax laws on carrying guns, concealed or otherwise). no, that does not deter a psychopath that is going on a shooting rampage and then killing himself, or willfully dying to police response.

yes, today’s shooting was a tragedy and no matter how many times it happens, it is an outright shock. yes, it’s more shocking seeing these idiot windbag pundits dissect a chaotic situation and second guess everything, hours after it happened. the students and faculty being shot at or hearing shots close by are human, they can’t react like we think they should be able to. the first responders (private security, local police) are human, they are suddenly injected in the most chaotic situation you can imagine, expected to stop the bad things from happening, and given NO information to do it (big campus, one or two gunman, that direction, fix it!). the overall responders (law enforcement, SWAT, feds) are human, by the time they get there the incident is typically over, they can only stop something that is still happening. even then, regardless of training, they are subjected to a situation with little to no information.

bottom line: we need to better plan for these types of incidents. but, that planning simply can NOT be done hours, days or weeks after such an incident. it has to be done when logic and reason are the ruling factors, not passion and hatred.

General TV Complaint

I’ve thought about this post in my mind for the last two years, since I’ve started watching more tv shows. thank $deity for torrents and a 19″ monitor, because i certainly can’t watch the shows on the network’s time tables. yes, i pay 55 bucks a month for extended cable and *never* turn my TV on. fuck their schedules, fuck them for airing complete crap instead of the prime shows more than once. they are begging for their customers to turn to TiVo (and fast forward past commercials) or torrents. for a more dry rundown of tv shows (last season), check out my thoughts.

My thoughts on television today…

There are a lot of great shows on TV these days. Bigger budgets, movie stars making the shift back to weekly TV, more viewers and higher advertising. shows like 24 and the various law & orders and CSI are getting the attention, and rightfully so. Admittedly, I watch 24 only when I have all twenty four episodes downloaded from the previous season and I watch it much like I watch a car wreck or police action on 18th street from my balcony. More recently, shows like Lost and a few others I don’t watch (Grey’s Anatomy) are becoming all the rage, even though most people didn’t enjoy JJ Abram’s first show (Alias) beyond the first season. Unfortunately, the main stream press simply must follow the popular shows and give no thought or attention to the lesser known but equally as enjoyable shows (exception: entertainment week continually gives props to Battlestar Galactica!). If you haven’t seen BSG on SciFi, you are missing out. Ditch your pedantic views on television and cast aside this notion that ‘sci fi’ is for nerds and geeks. The show is phenomenally written, beautifully directed and masterfully designed from season to season. The show is not about “killing toasters” as much as it is about exploring human interaction, social drama and current political nightmares. The writers and directors are smart though, and they know they can get away with taking all of the political issues of today, wrapping them in a blanket of “that stupid sci fi” and getting away with exploring it in ways conventional TV could not.

Reality TV is dead, the networks just don’t know it yet. Survivor this year perfectly demonstrates that since it is moving to a ‘racial’ theme after *twelve* years of running. Read the back story people.. they had to *recruit* some of the minorities you see, because only white people are crazy enough to volunteer to go on the show. They couldn’t even get a full team (5 members per team) of hispanics, african-americans and asians. Three episodes in and the show is getting boring, the stereotypes are dull and even watching one race insult themselves is old. The only compassion i found for anything on that island was the poor chickens.

Crime pays. Anyone who tells you otherwise wasn’t a good criminal or isn’t in the entertainment business. The law enforcement themed shows are at an all time high. COPS is in it’s *19th season* believe it or not! Law & Order has several shows, CSI has three, the Closer gets good reviews (for some reason), Criminal Minds is entertaining.. the amount of ‘bad guy’ shows is spiking again including Heist, Thief and several more this season. I won’t bother listing the other dozen shows that fall under this category out of fear of boring you to death. The sad part is, the best ‘bad guy’ series is on BBC and just now hitting the US; Hustle. If you haven’t seen it, make a point to do so. Only six episodes per season, but absolutely brilliant. In this category also worth seeing is The Shield and The Wire (HBO). Fortunately, several mainstream lackeys have finally caught on to the power and intensity of The Wire and it is beginning to get the attention it deserves. Killer Instict (lame), The Inside (had potential), Wanted (yawn), Eyes (gimick), Without a Trace (pretty good), Cold Case (pretty good) .. the list goes on.

I know I mentioned the CSI franchise last paragraph, but it really deserves its own. First, did you know that the UK had its own forensic show years before CSI? It’s called ‘Silent Witness’ and according to many UK fans has “sold out” in trying to be more like CSI and losing its core values. Perhaps this is one time where the US stole an idea and did it right though.. CSI (the original) continues to be outstanding. I wish the series luck in their break from formula (to a degree) in the 7th season, but i wonder if they will lose audience since they are now demanding you watch episode to episode to see a case finish. One value of the show in prior years is that 43 minutes of attention (you dont actually watch commercials do you?!) and you saw one or two cases solved. CSI:NY listened to criticism and made some important changes in season 2 (less in S3 this fall), and the show continues to be entertaining. The cases are a bit ‘Miami’, but the characters (Sinise!) carry the show. Now, the number one train wreck of a TV show five years running? CSI:Miami. Whoever writes and produces this show needs to jump the shark, bite the bullet, and get the fuck off the air. The show is beyond ‘bad’, boldly sucking like no show has before. David Caruso can not act. He is a cliche of himself, and needs to die off fast. (dare you to play the Caruso/CSI drinking game; drink when a) he puts his sunglasses on/off, b) uses the person’s first name in casual dialog, c) puts his hands on his hips or d) looks down while talking to someone. You’ll be trashed before opening credits). The rest of the characters are boring, shallow, can’t act and have no other redeeming quality. The only character that DID have a little appeal, got killed off (the guy who was a CSI but did it as a job, not for some profound love of the profession). The pop tart fake southern bimbo needs to die in a fire to save us from more agony. I don’t care if it is Miami, having every single case be loaded with rich bitches and blinged out retards is overdone. We don’t need to see million dollar houses/boats/cars in every single case. Speaking of the crime shows, why are medical examiners always African American? The Closer, L&O SVU, L&O, CSI:NY, CSI:Miami.. seems odd.

On the technical crime series.. a while back, Kiera mentioned how annoying it was dealing with TV shows that felt they were forced to dumb down for the average retarded viewer. While I understand the networks for doing this, I also challenge them to break from the norm and move on. If you aren’t smart enough to pick up on the pink cotton swab in *season 7* of CSI, then the show probably isn’t for you. The rest of the world is tired of hearing the same explanations for every minor thing week after week. Some of us want to know how TV would evolve if they didn’t have to carry the baggage of new viewers. Oh, CSI:Miami, the fact that every single scene in the lab begins with “Oh, is that the X from case Y?” to set the stage is BORING. Fuck yourself with a baseball bat you ignorant jackass retards. You are writing down to the retard population that you are part of.

Other shows that stand out; Boston Legal, pretty twisted humor written in to this show, Shatner and Spade carry it without a hint of burden. Weeds (Showtime) is a brilliant comedy that would fail miserably on public channels, but floats by on premium because it embraces that edge. Rescue Me, no pondering how real it is, the character interaction alone is worth the watch. Invasion (carried by Fichtner), Penn and Teller’s Bullshit (Showtime, should be mandatory viewing for US citizens), Prison Break (Miller, Purcell and Fichtner are oustanding), Saved, Spooks (forget US mainstream spy crap, watch the UK version), Bones (Deschanel’s social interaction rules), and The Unit (Haysbert drops his pen from 24 and picks up a machine gun), all worth checking out. Hell, Jason Lee even proves that comedy isn’t dead in My Name is Earl, despite the networks running comedy into the ground.

Yes, the three people who read this thinking “omg he’s such a tv whore!” can say that. If i didn’t watch the shows a) on my schedule, b) commercial free and c) on the third computer while I work on the first two, then I wouldn’t have seen ANY of these shows, except Meerkat Manor. That is the one show I will stop everything for, sit on the couch, and actually “watch TV” for.