Last night, my daughter and I were watching the CBS show Criminal Minds–which, I guess, was our first mistake. It may be the weakest of the successful shows in the procedural crime genre–often the plot hinges on profiling (a psychic power for people with no psychic power), and there is a definite tendency in some episodes toward torture porn. On the other hand, it has a couple of the more interestingly geeky characters on mainstream TV (e.g. Garcia and Reed). There was a great episode a year or two ago when Reed and Hotchner were stuck in a cell with a serial killer who seemed intent on provoking a violent confrontation, and Hotchner (for various plausible reasons) seemed to welcome the opportunity. Reed saved the situation by talking with brilliant semi-relevance until help arrived. It was priceless, especially the last exchange between Reed and the killer. Garcia probably needs no words of praise from me; even as I speak, people are setting up geeky cults about her. If not, I want to know why not.
Still, last night’s episode was so deeply vile that I probably won’t be watching the show again.
The plot involved a family abducting a couple of girls whom they intended to train as a mate for their 10 year old boy, after murdering the girls’ parents. The big reveal (stone obvious from the start, like many of the Awful Secrets on this show) was that the mother of the family had been abducted the same way when she was a child. The family had been doing this (abducting girls and murdering their parents), generation after generation, for at least a century. Also, it was just part of a network of families doing the same thing. A group of families, travelling from place to place, engaged in stealing, murder and child abduction.
Do you see where this is going?
Yes, the murdering kidnappers turned out to be Romani. Not just isolated Romani criminals, but part of a whole Romani subculture that preys on the wealth and the lives of us saintly, law-abiding non-Romani. Any non-murdering non-thieving Romani were depicted by Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Film.
It was hideous: an hour of commercial television devoted to a blood-libel against a cultural minority, all for the sacred purpose of selling cars and soap and pimple-cream and whatever else CBS was advertising that night.
This is how CBS celebrated the first full day in office of President Barack Obama. I suppose Plan B was a miniseries remake of Birth of a Nation or a colorized version of Triumph of the Will.
Extra bonus dumbness: the scriptwriter thought the Romani speak Rumanian. I kid you not. I guess they don’t have an internet connection, or books, or shreds of human decency in the dark hole where this script had its loathesome birth.
I apologize for the unpleasant tone of this entry: this isn’t the sort of issue I’d normally address on this blog. But, in a quick glance around the interwebs this AM, it looked like no one was talking about this. And I think that someone should be.