Paula's comment on cop shows.

Greg Nowell GN842 at CNSVAX.Albany.Edu
Thu Feb 4 11:59:13 PST 1999

Paula is right, that the good white guys in the end reassure us that there is some "ethical spine" to the established order. But LawNOrder also had an ambitious judge who wanted to ramrod a defendant into a murder charge (concerning a drunk) and who later became a candidate for D.A.

The implication is that the "good order" is constantly under attack--by the ingenuity of the criminals, the defenses of their lawyers, and the ambitions of those who can manipulate the system to be something else. Thus the "good" of the system emerges as the result of a highly fragile coterie that is constantly under siege. The system is "good" but it is fragile.

Similarly ER keeps trying to assure us that there are elements of "human compassion" in the medical process when anyone who has ever been in an ER will know it is a factory. In fact, the best analog for medical care is the car repair shop, which has similar organization but higher efficiency. In any case the world is constantly on the edge of flying apart while well motivated individuals fight the crushing forces of Weberian bureaucratic rationality and class-based conflicts in accumulation.

But the world never quite falls apart totally. There are two reasons for this. One, the show has to resume next week. Two, the fact that the show has to resume next week dovetails nicely with the need for ideological reproduction of the world order. Somehow, with nice people in charge, the world will go on.

I note that notwithstanding the casting of LawNOrder women are doing pretty well as a whole in TV land. Particularly in ER. LawNOrder has some good women judges and the woman who runs the cop precinct is pretty smart and cool under fire. But yeah, the formula of the show is 3 guys and 1 babe. Hormonal stimulation continues to sell product for advertisers. At least the LawNOrder women eat. It's a wonder Sam Waterson hasn't broken under the continued pressure of maintaining professional cool and "not noticing" that some of Hollywood's most dynamite hot young babe attorneys keep "coincidentally" ending up assigned to him. And he's never slept with one! (on the show)

Maybe he's gay. But we're not ready for that.

-- Gregory P. Nowell Associate Professor Department of Political Science, Milne 100 State University of New York 135 Western Ave. Albany, New York 12222

Fax 518-442-5298

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list