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Thursday November 10, 2005 7:18 pm

What Is Truly Offensive?

Posted by Rhys Alexander Categories: Editorial,

The beloved CSI is on tonight, and millions anticipate Thursday night for this reason.

I like CSI, not many people don’t. It’s entertaining and sometimes illuminating, with enjoyable characters and intriguing storylines. Every time I catch an episode, though, I have to wonder - what is up with the ratings system in this country? Could you imagine turning on a (non cable) network show, even after 9pm, and seeing characters walking around, completely nude? Of course not. That would never happen.

Do you remember when NYPD Blue premiered? Do you remember why it received so much attention? It wasn’t because of the excellent writing or impressive acting. It was because NYPD Blue planned to show a *gasp* bare bottom. Such an uproar had rarely been heard. The fans talked about it, the media covered it exhaustively, people even protested outside the network offices. It paid off though - as one crime drama among many, NYPD Blue may have been overlooked if not for this hoopla.

With all this excitement over a brief flash of bare skin, why do we not give the same attention to violence? You heard all about the butts on NYPD Blue. But nobody seemed to think it unusual or inappropriate to see butchered corpses pulled out of trunks and rivers. No crime show would ever fully expose a woman’s breasts. But they have no problem, time and time again, explaining in full detail how a female victim was raped and tortured before being killed and tossed aside as trash.

CSI provides lingering, almost loving, close-ups of eyeballs being sliced apart, of sternums being ripped open and organs pulled out, of bodies burned and rotted and mangled beyond recognition. For a truly illuminating look at this comparison, pay attention to the crime scene photos both on crime dramas and real-life crime shows such as Cold Case Files: they’ll provide close-ups of fatal wounds and mangled flesh, but will blur out the genitals.

If a woman (or man) as a destroyed, repulsive victim is acceptable, why not a woman or man as a sexual being? Which would you rather have your children accept as the norm? Which would you rather see beamed into your living room?

While you’re watching CSI tonight, keep this in mind. And please tell us your thoughts: we’d love to hear from you.

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