August 8, 2008

What's entertainment?

Recently I read something that made me think about what I consider entertainment. Namely, Law & Order. Why do I watch these shows about heinous sexual crimes, murders, suicides, violence, perversions, addictions, etc? What is entertaining about people doing horrible things to other people or themselves? Is this our version of the Colosseum and hangings in the town square?

The images and emotions stirred up by the show (and other movies or shows like it) often remain with me well after it's over. I lay in bed some nights listening to the baby monitor trying to figure out if someone is in our house hurting my baby or if it was just the ice maker in the fridge. (This is after I've made sure the doors are dead bolted. And we live in a town were people ask us if they can take the copper pipes laying in our yard instead of just stealing them!)

I don't need that. And I also don't think I should be helping the ratings of a show that makes its money off the sickness of man. So I've decided to stop watching Law & Order.

At this point I am not getting rid of all tv though. My top 3 shows will remain since Life is about finding the truth, Heroes is about people with special abilities and House is about a jerk but his interns are good people and they do help people. So they each contain an element that makes them fantastic (in the literal sense) or rooted in benevolence. (Am I just finding an excuse because I don't want to let them go? In my head there is a real difference between the tones, styles and outcomes of the episodes of these shows verses Law & Order. I hope I'm not being a hypocrite.)


  1. I know what you mean. Law and Order SVU is a show that I watch a lot. Mostly I watch it because I like stuff about who-done-its. There was one night though that I had to turn it off because it was disturbing me. I haven't watched it since then. I even had nightmares that night. ugh. I love House though. I always tell Wil (Adams) that if he were a doctor, he would be just like Hugh Laurie's character in House!

  2. FYI -
    Every new mom has to start watching the Gilmore Girls. I don't know what it is about it, but everyone I know who started staying home with their babies has gotten hooked on it. :) No gore, no underlying dark issues...just good clean fun.

  3. I don't watch the show often, but when I do I am always intrigued to solve the case before the "professionals." I was reading an article on how sometimes story lines come right from the papers. This further sparks my interest since I like to learn about the human condition that is depicted through all characters, including the evil doers because it brings some light into what causes someone to do such evil. It's addicting because then it puts me in that place and gets me to think what I would do in such situations. Maybe that is why the show is so popular-because of the adrenaline induced thought process that try to survive what one just saw. I would agree that the time slot for these shows is usually before bed and maybe not the best time to ponder the evils of fallen man. That's probably why I only watch it once in a while. I will, however, have to watch Heroes because many people enjoy it. I've seen house and agree it is a good show. Hope all is well Mrs. Engstrom...BTW what is your maiden name again? I seemed to have forgotten it ;)

  4. People sometimes ask me why I like to read Dean Koontz' fiction. It is indeed filled with strange examples of evil, and I've thought a lot about why I like it --
    it's very Catholic.

    Stay with me here! His books have great examples of good vs. evil, and he is adept at defining the two clearly. I am very sensitive to graphic violence, etc. but somehow when I read his books I feel uplifted, because he does such a great job of bringing the GOOD to light in spite of the darkness.
    I share this to remind you not to be too hard on yourself. I'm not a tv watcher, and I've never seen Law and Order -- but ask yourself what you find attractive about it. There may be a worthwhile message, even in a violent program.
    Thanks for the reminder we need to discern about what we're watching (or reading!)

  5. I don't really have anything very intelligent or thoughtful to say... just that I've always hated Law and Order SVU. I used to be a general Law and Order fan. I grew up watching the show constantly with my family, especially my dad. But I really lost my taste for the whole series when the SVU spinoff came out. I just think it's f-ed up to have a whole show based on sexual crimes. It really plays to people's fears and to their perversions.

    And I totally agree --- as a mother of small children, I can generate my own irrational fears, thank you very much. I don't need some poorly written, fear-mongering show to provide them for me.

    Also, just because they are 'ripped from the headlines,' or whatever, doesn't mean they reflect real life. Newspapers tend to prey on people's fears, too. It's how they sell copies and make money. I think watching shows like this with any regularity can make you feel like these sick and tragic things are happening all around us. But they are not. In actuality they are quite rare.

    Hey, what's this? I seem to be standing on some sort of box... what does it say there? S-O-A-.... oh, sorry! Let me just climb down from here. :-)