This was originally published on a blog I’ve since taken down called “Fear The Seeds”.
CSI’s “Nick Stokes” was the voice of Captain Atom on
the ‘Justice League Unlimited’ [crapfest] cartoon.
Just An Observation Made On A Saturday Morning
“Space may be the final frontier,
but it’s made in a Hollywood basement.”
Red Hot Chile Peppers
When Yeltsin was in the process of resigning he warned the world Russia was slipping back into Totalitarianism, but he was a drunk and appeared foolish so no one listened.
The New CSI Effect: You Have No Right To Your Rights
Over the past few years there has been a growing phenomenon in American courtrooms called “The CSI Effect” which has forced judges in criminal cases to instruct juries that programs such as CSI are fictional, law enforcement do not, in any way, operate like the television program and the fact is there are uncertainties in the legal system, from gathering evidence to actual arrest to court proceedings. Judges are actually forced to explain that in most cases results from evidence gathering can take weeks and months to return from labs, and that most of what is shown on CSI is either fictional or unproven. Facial recognition software, for example, is not something most American and Canadian jurisdictions have access to, simply because there are no camera’s conveniently hanging around 99.99902% of crime scenes.
There is another, more insidious effect CSI and other similar programs are having, however. It is the idea of an infallible state. It isn’t much of a stretch from believing CSI represents the reality of crime scene investigations to believing in the philosophy of its infallible and omnipresent judiciary system. And it’s when we start believing the tools of The State are infallible that Fascism takes hold, and in our current culture we’ve become entranced by the very idea of police forces who not only use near-magic to capture their suspect but also do whatever it takes to prove to themselves and us the suspect is guilty before trial. There have been as many as four different Law & Order programs on NBC each week, three CSI programs on CBS along with Fox’s 24. In addition CBS has Cold Case, Close To Home, Criminal Minds, Numbers and NCIS while NBC has Crossing Jordan. Each one of these programs tells viewers that plain-clothed government officials (very rarely are uniformed officers allowed to use these tactics) are never to be questioned. In this way the CSI programs are like first-year University courses on ‘How To Start A Fascist State’.
In the still-fictional CSI world making making trouble when a State Official wants to take your DNA or fingerprint without a warrant or even asking for Just Cause is immoral and a sign either of your guilt or that you don’t care about little children who have been raped, mutilated and/or murdered. All three CBS programs are amoung the top-five watched programs in America and Canada, and all three teach us that technology in the hands of The State is infallible and law enforcement is most effective when The Citizen has no right to question the authority of The State. Law & Order and 24 would be graduate courses. After the Revolution it will be William Peterson and David Caruso who will be testifying at your trial. They will also be your judges, and the ratings will be through the roof.
It’s very easy to slide into corporate conspiracy theories, but it’s actually simple laziness which is at the root of this cultural facist comeback. It’s easier for writers to write this crap because they don’t have to explain anything. “Give us your saliva.” / “I want a lawyer.” / “You sick freak! What, you want this baby-rapist to do someone else’s kid?” / “Oh. Right. Here you are.” That’s easy. Try explaining why civil rights are important in a two-minute segment through a tertiary character: what’s his background? what’s his motivation for saying no? It’s much easier as a writer to develop a format where no explanations are ever needed for saying no to a forensic officer: deniability is a symptom of guilt. In the CSI world, and especially the Crossing Jordan universe, mistakes are only made when a situation requires one: Jordan needs reinforcing as a broken character in need of repair and redemption. Explanation requires characters, and in CSI there are none. The entire program is based on exposition: Person One learns something and tells Person Two who is standing nearby, Person Three walks into the scene so P-One and P-Two explain together. That isn’t a storyline, it’s five minutes of filler spoken with varying intensity.
Fascism is all about ease of use, ease of thought. Fascism is easy, and it is easy to slide into if a society grows too comfortable with itself. And our culture, as a mirror, is reflecting a very comfortable society where no thought is required through most of a weeks primetime viewing. But in order for fascism to properly gain hold in a relatively diverse society it must appeal to many separate groups. These programs provide an interesting counterbalance to the portions of rap culture where everyone either lives in a constant state of criminality or are constantly fighting against a police state.
It is interesting to note that in TV’s fascist world most (99.99904%) of the “characters” enforcing the law are white, and most — if not all — of the “characters” fighting against the state in the rap universe are black (100% minus Em+Em). Fascism is about totalitarianism, it’s about waking up in a country where everyone speaks the same language, prays to the same God, and is the same colour. But attaining such a state requires the still-disparate groups to believe what is being done is for their unique benefit.
The people must believe that more control by The State is needed to create the necessary conditions for their safety, so these programs, with their naive stories about fantasies mascarading as criminal behaviour, prove to the viewer that constitutional rights are a hindrance to The State. Meanwhile rap pop culture is pounding in the background telling black and white citizens alike that unsavoury people are pissed off enough that they’re getting their 9mm’s and popping some caps in some random asses, essentially driving those who are worried about their ass into wanting more state protection, not less. It’s interesting that Ice-T, a former rapper and a recurring good-guy character on Law & Order SVU, used to front a rap-metal band called “Bodycount” whose first single was a song about killing a whole lot of LAPD officers.
Fascism may require a mob from which society can be saved, but it’s not just any old large group of random people with burning torches and music contracts, it’s reason and intelligence who are the primary enemies of the facist state: the first ones against the wall are always the educated and the educators.
Fascism, and totalitarianism can normally never be imposed except through war (civil war, military coup), but the conditions can take hold in democracies from a “grassroots” movement of intellectual vacancy.
Just something to think about while you watch David Caruso standing on a beach, acting through his sunglasses, praying you don’t notice how truly ridiculous his program is.