Tag Archives: Dick Wolf

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/31/2018: “Goodbye 2018, And Good Riddance!” Edition

Happy dying gasps of 2018!

1. Double standards inquiry: Will someone please explain to me why this magazine cover, which made O.J. Simpson blacker than he really is…

 

was universally condemned as racist, and this current cover of New York Times Magazine, making the late Aretha Franklin look like a ravenous rotting zombie from Hell..

…is just an artistic choice? (ARRGHHHHH!!!)

2. And speaking of looks…It is impossible not to notice that TV commercials are increasingly featuring overweight, ordinary-looking actors instead of the impossibly beautiful people who once were the automatic choices to sell products. This is an ethical development for the culture generally, and should help children develop more realistic aspirations regarding their own appearance. Now if only TV dramas would adopt the same inclusive casting policies—a particularly egregious candidate for reform is “law and Order” creator Dick Wolf.  His old series cast one eye-popping beauty after another as the male ADA’s sidekick, and now he is stocking his current NBC line-up of Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD, with police women, female firefighters and distaff doctors who would be right at home in the pages of Vogue.

3.  More on “Enemies of the People”: Novelist and conservative gadfly Sarah Hoyt has issued a spirited defense—okay, it’s a screed, a rant even— of President Trump’s characterization of the news media, going over ground I have covered (most recently here and here), but with special brio. Read the whole thing— she is mostly right, if a bit hyperbolic and inflammatory—but here are some highlights: Continue reading

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Chicago Justice, Rights, And Pop Culture Malpractice

Dick Wolf, the “Law and Order” creator, is in the process of taking over NBC prime time. He now has four linked dramas dominating the schedule—“Chicago Med,” “Chicago P.D.,” “Chicago Fire,” and the latest, “Chicago Justice.” (Soon to come, at this rate: “Chicago Sanitation,” “Chicago Pizza,” and “Chicago Cubs.”)

Yesterday was Episode #2 of “Chicago Justice.” The story in involved a “ripped from the headlines” riff on the Brock Turner case, where a woman was raped while unconscious and the rapist received a ridiculously lenient sentence. In Wolf’s alternate universe, however, the judge was murdered, and the rape victim and her ex-husband were suspects. There was another wrinkle too: one of the prosecutors had a close relationship with the dead judge, and was with him right before he was killed. She was going to have to be a witness, and her colleague and supervisor, prosecuting the case, asked her if she had been sleeping with the victim. Such a relationship would have been an ethical violation for the judge, and at least a pre-unethical condition for the prosecutor, requiring her to relocate to a Steven Bochco drama, where lawyers have sex with judges all the time.

The female prosecutor indignantly refused to answer the question. After the case was resolved—I won’t spoil it, but the name “Perry Mason” comes to mind—the two prosecutors made up over a drink. She said that she would have never slept  with “Ray” (the dead judge–when he was alive, that is), but that she remembered reading “in some old document” that we all had “unalienable rights,” she believed one of them was “the right to be respected by your fellow man.”

There is no “right to be respected.” The Declaration of Independence, the “old document” she referenced, lists three rights only, though they are broad ones: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. None of those encompass a right to be respected. The speaker, Anna Valdez (played by Monica Barbaro, a Latina dead ringer for Jill Hennessey, who played the equivalent “Law and Order” role for many years), is a lawyer, and should understand what a right is. It is a legally enforceable guarantee of an entitlement to have something, seek or obtain it,  or to act in a certain ways. As a lawyer, she must understand that this is different from what is right, just or honorable. Her statement, coming from the mouth of a character with presumed expertise and authority, misleads much of the public, which is constantly getting confused over  the difference between Jefferson’s use of “rights” and what is right. So do journalists and, sadly, too many elected officials. Continue reading

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“Chicago Med’s” Stupid Gun Tricks

leafblower

Dick Wolf’ (Law and Order) has a new NBC show, “Chicago Med” (one of a series, including “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Pet Shop,” or something: I can’t keep track). Tonight, the liberal activist’s hospital drama gave its audience a plot involving an NRA member’s wet dream gone horribly wrong. A man with an assault-type weapon bursts into a movie theater, sparking a mass panic and stampede and causing many injuries and at least one death. A mild-mannered, bespectacled young man in the audience (think Bernard Goetz, because that’s who the series wants you to think of) pulls out his pistol and shoots the gunman. He’s interviewed on the scene by an eager news media, and hailed as a fast-thinking hero.

Ah, but all is not what it seemed, or did seem. The “gunman” was a teen prankster with a website, who was filming material, and carrying not a weapon, but a leafblower. The hero, who had a concealed carry permit (he had been mugged in the past), wasn’t a hero at all, but the shooter of an unarmed kid—you know, just like all these trigger-happy cops. (The Mad Leaf Blower almost dies, but is saved by a liver transplant from a woman who died in the panic he started. Give-me-a-break. ). Now everyone at the hospital is looking at the one-time hero like he smells bad. He is overcome with remorse, and being relentlessly attacked on social media.

So he steps in front of a car, and is killed. Continue reading

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“Law and Order, SVU” vs. O’Reilly: Was Bill Smeared?

Even if you can’t stand Bill O’Reilly, you have to admit that the Fox bloviator has an entertainingly thin skin. Are you a struggling TV talking head in need of a  ratings boost? Just take a shot, cheap or otherwise, at Battlin’ Bill, and he’ll double your audience by turning red-faced and calling you a slime. This time, O’Reilly is riled at Dick Wolf, the “Law and Order” producer, who recently had a character played by John Larroquette argue on “Law and Order, Special Victims Unit” that a man who killed the children of illegal immigrants had been primed by “Beck, Limbaugh, O’Reilly” who were like a “cancer spreading ignorance and hate.”  Continue reading

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