After 20 years on NBC, Law & Order has been cancelled (though it may get picked up by TNT). The show had an extraordinary run — one season shy of a TV drama-series record. So it would seem reasonable to blame its demise on old age or perhaps a superfluity of L&O spin-offs, right?
Not in rightblogger world. “IT MOVED LEFT, HEMORRHAGED VIEWERS, and now Law & Order has been cancelled,” said Instapundit. “Along with a bunch of other shows.”
A show about catching and convicting skels ‘moved left’? How? Did Jack McCoy become obsessed with root causes and stop prosecuting crooks? Did the cops turn into social workers?
Rightbloggers offered many explanations, but the main idea was this: If they think something on TV — or in movies like Robin Hood — doesn’t conform to their world view, it’s a gesture of contempt toward ordinary Americans (i.e. them), and part of a conspiracy against the American way of life (i.e. them).
Instapundit, as is his style, went no further than insinuation, but RedState stepped up: In Law & Order‘s early days, “almost every week it highlighted some inanity about how our system of justice was being perverted by liberal, legal technicalities that bent over backwards and threatened to release the guilty… justice usually triumphed because Ben or Jack slogged through and smartly found alternative ways to convict the guilty.”
This conservative slogging, rather than its straightforward storylines and acting, was what made the show popular, said RedState. But in its current, liberal era, L&O episodes “promote liberal talking points and political activism more and more. From portraying Christians as deranged believers of fiction to labeling Conservative talk show hosts as spewers of hate speech, this franchise has gotten more and more out of touch with America’s value system.”
“NBC’s ‘Law and Order’ has been known to promote a liberal agenda,” agreed NewsBusters, “and the May 10 episode was no exception.” Not only did the story involve the estate tax — “the twisted plotline included blatant support for gay marriage.”
Gasp! “It must be a Hollywood requirement,” said the first NewsBusters commenter, “that every series include at least one episode per season that depicts gayism in a positive light. If they didn’t, they’d have their show cancelled.” Hmm — so maybe L&O was cancelled because, despite its best efforts, it wasn’t gay enough!
Kathy Shaidle denounced an episode in which cops got mad because white supremacists were lecturing them “about overthrowing tyrannical governments, and owning guns and stuff.” (Now that makes no sense! There’s nothing New York City cops love more than fringe groups demanding their right to pack heat.) She predicted the series would go out with “A Very Special Episode involving a rash of abortion clinic and gay bar and Home Depot parking lot bombings…” Gayness seems to be a hallmark of the liberal L&O conspiracy.
Word spread beyond the rightblogger world, and into gossip and entertainment sites. “Memo to NBC.. Newsweek… MSNBC,” said a commenter at Perez Hilton‘s site. “America is a center right country and you will pay the price for the constant push of a liberal agenda. Dick Wolf, Law and Order’s creator pushed his politics and people stopped watching…” (Now what are these patriots doing on a gay guy’s site? Maybe they’re allowed so long as they leave threats.)
This routine is actually pretty ancient. “The last couple of seasons [of L&O] were so biased that many conservative viewers simply chose to change the channel,” wrote Cinnamon Stillwell in… 2005. (How’d the show hang on for five more years, going as it did against the Will of the People?)
But as they do whenever a newspaper closes, rightbloggers never miss a chance to declare the demise of anything they dislike as proof that the nation is with them.
A quick scan of an episode guide for the most recent L&O season shows a more eclectic mix of plots than the rightblogger dudgeon would suggest. In “Crashers,” for example, the cops detain a murder suspect on a terrorism charge for blowing through airport security (way to “smartly find alternative ways to convict the guilty” — and exploit a recent news story!), while the attorneys eyeball a U.S. Senator and “wonder if some of the Senator’s stimulus money is going to ‘stimu-lust.'”
Perhaps, if we too saw everything on God’s green earth through the cracked prism of politics, we could use that as evidence that Law & Order is right-wing. Alternately, we might judge that after hundreds of episodes, the show’s writers are prone to grab for whatever gimmicks they haven’t used yet, some of which may reflect current events. (“Ripped from today’s headlines,” and all that.)
But don’t try that kind of reasoning on rightbloggers. They’re dedicated, as they have been for decades, to “culture war” — a battle to force movies, TV shows, books, and everything else into line with conservative philosophy or, failing that, to make sure everyone knows that rightwingers are being discriminated against by Hollyweird and whoever is in charge of the other entertainment categories that don’t constantly reaffirm their values (that is to say, everything except professional wrestling).
In fairness, it must be said that their complaints are sometimes aided and abetted (and perhaps baited) by the mainstream media. For instance: MSM movie-watchers have noted that the Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe Robin Hood film that just came out, which was originally planned to show some sympathy toward the Sheriff of Nottingham, has emerged as something more rabble-rousing, and might be considered — in the words of the New York Times critic A.O. Scott — “one big medieval tea party.”
Rightbloggers didn’t need any more prompting than that. Certainly they didn’t need to see the movie! That’s for goddamn liberals like A.O. Scott.
Luke Ford actually attacked Scott for his name. “I guess plain old ‘Anthony Scott’ is just not dramatic enough for A. O. Scott,” he huffed. “You can see it in his writing. He loves big words and portentous statements and left-wing politics.”
“A critic sees his enemies everywhere in a film he doesn’t like,” declared Libertyblog. The Bastiat Institute thought Scott’s negative review meant the film “might be worth a look.” That’ll show him/the liberal media!
Conservative psychoanalyst ShrinkWrapped took Scott’s review as a sign that the liberal media had begun to notice rightwing “shifts taking place in our Zeitgeist… but their awareness is yet subconscious, not yet reflected in their coverage of the (constructed) ‘news’ but rather showing up in the style and entertainment pages.” It’s odd that ShrinkWrapped would attribute such Zeitgeist sensitivity to “entertainment reporters,” while at the same time blasting Scott for seeing the film through an “ideological lens.” (For a psychoanalyst, ShrinkWrapped seems oddly unfamiliar with the concept of projection).
Further down Shrinkwrapped’s column: “For me the single greatest failing of the Obama administration, a failing sure to earn history’s contempt, will be the surrender to the mob, the tortured attempts for a Realpolitik…” You go back and see how he got there; we couldn’t figure it out.
When another reviewer called the film “Robin Hood meets Che Guevara,” NewsBusters fought back: “Protesting high taxes and wanting to limit government power is the equivalent of a Communist revolution?” said an outraged Newsbusters. “Sounds more like the Tea Party movement.” We the People will tell you what this unseen film means!
But alas, some of them actually saw the thing — and had to report back to the brethren that the film was not so hot. To their credit, some actually judged it on its artistic merits. Big Hollywood, which had promised to “report back and let you know if Robin Hood more closely resembles a libertarian rebel, as Scott suggests…” had to admit that this Robin Hood wasn’t even as good as Kevin Costner’s.
And Pajamas Media’s pseudonymous John Boot actually noticed a sticking point in the alleged tea party narrative: Robin is supposed to be fighting for the Magna Carta, but “The Magna Carta was created by barons for barons, not for the underclass. They would have just laughed if a working-class slob like Robin Hood had suggested that he should be their political and military leader.”
But others had a more positive impression, based on non-artistic standards. “Taxes without representation was portrayed quite negatively,” said Libertarian Republican. The new Robin Hood “reminds us,” reported The Left-Brained Artist, “that whatever the form of government in whatever time period you may view it is a self-propagating, self-promoting, personal freedom-squashing entity by nature… freedom shrinks as government grows, changing a strong independence for an abusive dependency.” His title: “Robin Hood and Ayn Rand.”
What I Know was also enthusiastic: “There is no spreading of wealth in this movie,” he gushed. “It is about liberty, equal rights, unjust taxation, and rebelling against tyranny.”
The writing? Not a word about it. Directing? Acting? Set Decoration? Hey, who cares about that — the movie is on message! Go see, comrades — and have a care to avoid Robert Rodriguez’ treasonous Machete (“Glorifies Race War” — Big Hollywood; “Can America’s ‘Melting Pot’ Survive Machete?” — Borderfire Report). After all, the best way to celebrate one’s dedication to freedom is to strictly follow the party line on acceptable entertainments.