Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Strange Politics of TV's Alcatraz and Person of Interest

There is only one institution in America with any reach. Only one that really shapes culture. Only one that reflects, and changes it. No, its not churches. Hardly anyone goes to Church any more. Nor is it politics, unaffiliated people are growing and will soon outnumber Republicans. There is only one institution that matters. That is television. True, it does not have the reach it had with only three networks, and no cable tv. But there it is, 17 million people watched the Golden Globes. It is, outside sports and a few other live events, a mostly female-gay ghetto. But it still shapes the attitudes and cultural assumptions of most women. Which brings us to Fox's Alcatraz and CBS's Person of Interest. Both are shows with somewhat strange politics. Alcatraz wants to indict the White male America of the past, for well being White and Male. Not sufficiently multicultural. Meanwhile Person of Interest posits that icky White beta males are the main threat to personal security in NYC, and Black men and women NEVER EVER commit crimes. Why? Because their viewers are nearly all female, and that is what that audience wants.

First, Alcatraz. seen in the trailer below:

Basically, a young White girl with a pixie haircut, and no discernible man in her life, but "hot" (this IS San Francisco, after all), is recruited by a semi-evil cranky old White guy, to work with a "diverse" team of well, a fat Mexican comic book fan and "Professor" and some Indian chick to solve the mystery of why everyone disappeared from Alcatraz. Sub-plots include the wicked, bad White guy who killed her first, less fat Mexican cop partner, who is her ... grandfather! And also the Indian doctor being a time traveler or something, she shows up in a flashback in 1960 in Alcatraz.

The whole thing is laughable, with hard-case WWII vet and Alcatraz con meekly doing what "they" (a voice on a telephone) tells him to do, because well that's what bad, dangerous White guys do. Or guys from 1963 suddenly knowing that they are being watched by video surveillance cameras. Or that time-travelers would use that to ... hire hitmen. Of course!

It is naturally, chick crack. Women love this stuff, the good (puzzles, women love puzzles as any Agatha Christie fan knows), and the bad (basically the semi-lesbian, fat Mexican guy, and the cranky old guy have to chase down evil White male America from 1963 and imprison it). There's a metaphor there, and its very obvious. The shows creators feel the old, straight White male working man's San Francisco is an affront to reality, and want to bring it back to life just to imprison it. Again, chick crack: importance and unraveling the mystery without any responsibility or duty. To country, justice, family, or anything. Or sorting that out. Nope, just easy moral victories over cartoon bad guys. Because everyone knows, that in San Francisco, the most horrible crimes are committed by ... White guys.

Nope, the words of SFPD Captain Michael Biel on the causes of San Francisco's 11 murders in 2011 are:

But police Capt. Michael Biel told the board’s Public Safety Committee the killings are unrelated and do not represent a specific crime wave. Biel said only one of the 11 homicides committed so far this year has been gang-related. Most of the rest, he said, involved social acquaintances and ongoing disputes over money or drugs.

Now, what sort of person kills casual acquaintances in disputes over money and drugs? Oh I know, I know! White guys. Usually icky beta males or lower class blue collar guys. After all, we all know the crime waves WWII vets committed (one of the bad guys in Alcatraz is a WWII vet who stole to feed his family).

Person of Interest, after an interesting start, has followed the path of pandering to the female audience's prejudices. While the pilot played with expectations, the icky beta male White guy being the victim, the "hot" woman being the killer, the main plot, bad corrupt White cops framing innocent Black victims had a noticeable subtext. All the cops were fat, bad looking ethnic White guys, Italians, Irish, and not the handsome good guys.

The most recent episode was the most laughable, embodying Eric Cartman's South Park Dictum that Black people can do no wrong. The character, the person of interest, is a beautiful Dominican woman who is a struggling lawyer, trying to free innocent Black cons wrongfully sent back to prison by their corrupt (again fat and unattractive Italian) parole officer. So the person at Child Protective Services can get a kick-back on falsely claimed kids cared for by the foster parents. The conspirators? A middle aged White couple and ... yes! An Icky White Beta Male. The "twist" is we are supposed to suspect, briefly, a noble Black woman who runs the place. Not the icky White beta male who expresses a romantic interest in the beautiful Dominican woman.

Why that plot point? Because it confirms what most of the White female audience "knows" with religious certainty. ALL Black people are noble and good, and never ever EVER commit crimes, it is racist to think so. The REAL threat is icky White beta males who might even **GASP** ask them out. How awful. Of course they are murderers and corrupt.

How does this willful denial of reality exist? Because most White women have no real contact with actual real, Black male criminals in urban areas. Or noble Hispanics. Those who do, like Alexandra "Asians in the Library" Wallace are not real happy about being second class citizens at best, harassed and threatened at worst. Black ex-cons are not in reality, noble guys trying to "turn their life around" for their son. They are in fact, brutal and dysfunctional and totally without much hope for anything else but aging out of violence. Productive and trustworthy members of society they are not.

This makes the show far different from the 1980's "Equalizer" which was also set in NYC. There, brutal Chinese kidnap or Dominican drug gangs ruled places, or organized crime, or various drug rings. While there were plenty of evil White guys, the beta male White guy was often the one the Equalizer (the incomparable Edward Woodward, sorely missed) protected. Heck even glamor-show "Miami Vice" had no problem in depicting the reality of the drug trade then, mostly Columbian drug lords. But back then, more men watched television, and therefore pandering to female-led PC was not the main concern.

One of the subtexts is that the bad guys are really bad because they are ... racist. "Framing" Black guys for committing the crimes that evil Blue Collar White guys of Ethnic Origin or Beta Male White guys do. I've seen that particular plot point three times on the show this season. That's no accident, undoubtedly the audience responded and it got repeated.

If you don't like PC, you have to destroy TV. Period. Or remake it into a place where shows fear offending .... beta male White guys, and Blue Colar guys of Ethnic Origin.

Either destroy female-led consumerism (by promoting female thrift and value-buying) or start suing the hell out of these production companies and networks for defamation of class. Sue and sue and sue and sue. Sue till the cows come home. And then sue some more. Attrition warfare against an enemy with limited time and money. Force them to abandon the shaping of culture to feed the White female professional viewpoint at its worst not best.

Puzzle stuff? I'm with the female viewers on that one. Its fun! Why not? Character development (but not by icky sex or "shocking" turns to "evil" out of comic books and soap operas) are also a positive development due to women viewers. But lets have an end to the chasing down and imprisonment of the Straight White male past, and icky Beta Male or White Ethnic guy as villain wrongfully framing innocent Black ex-cons. I'd rather watch vampires, witches, and fantasy characters out of "Grimm." Its more believable.


Anonymous said...

Whiskey, wonderful as always and informative rich writing. I must also say your writing has become much better over time and you've really begun to develop a unique style.

Question, what episode of southpark was it when Cartmen said "black people can do no wrong"? Its been mentioned a lot in Alt-Right articles and such, but never have been able to find it.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous,

That phrase is in the OWS episode according to many articles. Season 15, Episode 12. Haven't seen the video though, if you find the link on YouTube, share it.

Alcatraz trailers actually looked interesting as a set up scenario of a city-side jailbeak.

Thank you Whiskey, for saving me the trouble of learning it was just an agitprop metaphor to enable the fantasy revenge over the... loser. I guess ruining civilization the first time wasn't good enough, they have to keep justifying their moral superiority in the face of the depressing reality they have invoked.

Anonymous 2

Anonymous said...

Good to know I've been correct in avoiding Alcatraz. Although the reason I've been avoiding it is because of moronic J.J. Abrams.

It sounded like an interesting concept, but he enjoys leaving audiences hanging and explaining nothing (Lost, Cloverfield).

Not to mention that idiotic spy show he tried to do.

Bullitt315 said...

The last episode of person of interest really was the most blatant of all of them. I still like the show though. I'm used to every TV show and commercial making white guys the bad guys but at least Person of Interest has both heroes as white guys too. I can even pretend to believe it isn't just for PC reasons because I'd assume white crime is more premeditated which is what the machine picks up.

sestamibi said...

I hardly ever watch TV any more--just network news, the PBS News Hour (which is far more balanced than network news--if you can believe that), football, and the occasional episode of Nature on PBS. This summer I'm going to discontinue our basic cable service.

Off the Coast of Utopia said...

Add to this list "Touch" the new series from Tim Kring where early on in the pilot single dad Kiefer Sutherland gets a visit from child services and the fact he has no wife is held against him. What follows is a string of statements accusing him of being unfit. Would like to se this same scene in a series with a single mom.

josh said...

This is why I love ya Whiskey,great post. But I have another solution.Beat them with...quality. TV is shit. Absolute shit. With stuff like Seinfeld and Frasier it seemed to be flying high and it seemed there would be one great show after another. These days it seems to have collapsed into a smelly blob of PC shit. Tho I guess lots of people like the CSI stuff. Interesting that the macho black actor(and a good one)Larry Fishburne bombed in the part the more corpulent white guy(forgot name,he was the guy from Chicago) did so phenomenally succesfully.(BTW I HATE--not hate,hate,hate lol--just hate The Office. Its prick garbage. I love 2 1/2 Men. Its gold,jerry!There seems to be some sort of cultural divide about these shows,with the Proper Whites loving Office and disdaining Men,and the women and men who watch it.)Anyway,I think if guys in the biz could produce good stuff and aggressively push to get it on,they'd attrract women AND more men. Women are surely as stupid and well,womanish,as theyre allowed to be. They can be better!And they will flock to white guys if the WG is playing a worthy role!

josh said...

BTW Whiskey have you seen the ad for a cable company where a young white male meets a burly black male cable installer in the rain,and breaks down crying,asking to come back to his old cable company. They hug in the rain as the understanding fatherly balck male forgives the "boy". My Gosh!

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

Oh, the Indian woman in Alcatraz is Parminder Nagra. She's very beautiful, at least on the screen (she's 36 now).

Anonymous said...

Man look over your wife's shoulder at her Facebook and see all the Eat Pray Love crap their female friends carry on with. Comments "we should do more" "I must do more' "We should adopt". Maudlin NGO photos of the noble poor. What women 'deserve' affirmation spiels. Scolding words about white right politicians by some lesbo. Enough to make you...laugh, it's hilarious.

CamelCaseRob said...

Whiskey, I wish you'd do a post about why dedicated purpose channels won't stay with the programming subject they're "supposed" to. Example, wrestling on SYFY. Is it the economics that causes this.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to see all of our local news anchors fitting the new news team mold.....young, hip, intelligent Black - Obama clone with the ever present Blonde bombshell.

Question for the news executive's ... Are you intentionally dissing the poor black female population?

Anonymous said...

White women like to pretend to not be racist because they like watching shows with non-white actors. But when the main female lead isn't white they avoid it like the plague. For example, ever notice all these new sitcoms have black, indian, and asian men, but all the women are white?

We need to call out this behavior as racist. Call out the media in it's double standard regarding male diversity vs. female diversity. If in fact, our entertainment industry is "whitewashed" as so many like to claim, it's because white WOMEN are over-represented in a positive light, not white MEN.

We need to "flip the script". Boycott movies like Red Tails which feature black males, but convieniently ignore black females. Boycott all those shows on TV that feature diverse men and all-white women. Furthermore, we need to spread the message and email the producers about the boycott and why we are boycotting it.

Aside from that we need to support those movies that show white males in a positive light. If we don't do this, and instead just ignore the media, there is no reason for any producer to cater to us.

If we're not willing to put our money where our mouth is, then we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Kaz said...

Black men/criminals commit boring crime, and are boring criminals.

That's my lazy 'analysis'.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how The Sopranos got so far along w/o adding a 'person of color' to the cast?

David Chase must be the Grand Dragon of the KKK or something.

dienw said...

Whiskey, I wish you'd do a post about why dedicated purpose channels won't stay with the programming subject they're "supposed" to. Example, wrestling on SYFY. Is it the economics that causes this.

Don't you know wrestling fall under fiction?

Whiskey said...

Ah SyFy. Bonnie Hammer took over, and went about making it a "female-friendly" (aka no men allowed save ultra-cheap wrestling) place.

Thus, Ghost-hunters. And endless fantasy schlock. And the like.

The economics are, for now Advertisers mostly crave women, not men, and don't really want male viewers. Because guys don't do the buying, so goes the thinking, women do. And women are where its at.

Ultimately that's why guys only watch ESPN (which has benefited greatly from this) and other live sports. Much of the rest is dreadful, in a very immature way.

Anonymous said...

"Alcatraz wants to indict the White male America of the past, for well being White and Male. Not sufficiently multicultural. Meanwhile Person of Interest posits that icky White beta males are the main threat to personal security in NYC, and Black men and women NEVER EVER commit crimes. Why? Because their viewers are nearly all female, and that is what that audience wants."

You put the cart before the horse. This isn't what "women decided they want." TV series are top-down Cultural Marxist propaganda. After 45 unchallenged years of revolutionary propaganda, women, being more malleable than men, have been re-shaped (re-engineered) to have such attitudes. And even then it's only a portion of them, not all. An audience of 17 million or so is less than 1/15 the U.S. population. The U.S. (White, Western culture) has been ruined from within by design to make the new society "safe" for its subverters, not because women one day decided they wanted to become man-hating slobs with all kinds of accompanying neuroses.

Jim said...

Whenever i'm watching some police-type show with my wife (she watches an endless number) and whenever they have a suspect that's black i always say "it can't be him - its never the black guy". I' m always right, of course, and it always annoys her.

Whiskey said...

Anon -- not all TV series were/are Marxist Lite propaganda. One of the Jessie Stone TV movies with Tom Selleck had a nice twist. A Black guy is probably innocent of a crime, but won't call alibi witnesses. Stone figures it out: the guy was not robbing the store (crime he was charged with) but ... raping and robbing an elderly White woman across town. He gets cleared of the wrong charge and hit with the right one.

A twist on the "Black guy is innocent" trope.

Veronica Mars is another, villains in the third and final season include: Black pro-choice room-mate (gave abortificant to pregnant room-mate to choose for her); "kind" non threatening gay guy (who helps the campus rapist because of gay infatuation); a PC-driven professor; and so on. Of course that got even lower ratings among the young female audience.

Yes TV is fragmented, not what it was, but I don't know how else you get 17 million people watching one thing. I don't want to destroy TV, I want to reform it. I think that is possible, but a forty year effort. It can be made better, but only by hard work of many over decades. Fixing anything is hard, and requires sustained effort.

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