A column by the Wall Street Journal’s great journalist for justice, Dorothy Rabinowitz, has prompted a flurry of useful commentary in the blogosphere about television’s bias against businessmen (and women, but mostly men). Rabinowitz (subscription required) observes that a recent episode of NBC’s Law & Order adapted a real-life story of an illegal alien working construction in NYC who murdered a well-known actress, Adrienne Shelley, because she complained about the noise being made in the apartment building. In the L&O episode, the writers, not satisfied with ripping off actual headlines, made the bad guy a venal owner of a construction company, who actually commits the murder and then covers it up.
Alas, this is typical of the anti-business bias of L&O and most network shows, as well documented in a Business and Media Institute report last summer, which concluded that, “In the world of entertainment TV, businessmen pose a greater threat than the mob.” The particular L&O episode was also particularly bitter viewing for anyone familiar with Shelley’s wonderful talent or the real circumstances of her murder. But beyond that, the show was bad drama, bad TV. Rabinowitz:
To the producers of “Law & Order,” famous for ripping its themes from the headlines, it seemed, clearly, their kind of story, an urban murder with the potential to reflect all the latest in hot social themes — the show’s basic fare. There is by now little that can surprise anyone about the way those themes play out on the series or what certain characters represent. Who can work up any suspense about, say, any well-to-do businessman who figures in a “Law & Order” plot? Case closed, color him guilty.
And the businessman thing has been going on for years. Anyone remember the L&O where the head of McDonald’s (fictionalized of course) deliberately allows kids to die from e coli and is convicted of manslaughter or some such? (The most unbelievable part of the show was that a nationwide fast food joint got its meat from one butcher in the meat-packing district in lower Manhattan!). A charitable view would be that the show is simply a victim of its long run and the low-crime times. A more realistic criticism is that the show has become a soapbox for liberal sanctimony.
Which leads us to a sincere query: Is there a popular TV show out there that’s pro-business or at least fair to business? (Other than Cool Stuff Being Made, we mean.) One that portrays business owners in an honest light, perhaps highlighting their role in economic growth or the charitable contributions they make? One we could recommend to aliens from Frolix 8, the kind that would these give space visitors an accurate view of the business world?
Guess the alternative media will have to do. You know, bloggers.
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