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Thar he blows!

Sorry to be a Mr. Cranky-Pants this morning, but I need to vent about something that’s been bugging me all week.

“And what’s that?” you ask. Well, I’ll tell you; political preaching and cheap shots in TV dramas and comedy.

The latest one happened on Monday night’s episode of Castle.

Maybe the writers thought they were being clever, slipping in a snide comment about Dick Cheney – something about taking his soul to the devil. Maybe it was an ad lib. To be honest, I don’t care. All I know is it gave me a ‘Huh?’ moment, like the ones we don’t want our readers to get, and in case you’re wondering, I’d be just as peeved if it had been a cheap shot at a Democrat.

When it comes to drama and comedy on television, I don’t care which side of the political fence the show’s writers are on, I care about being entertained. If I was remotely interested in those folk’s political opinions, I’d seek out their blog and read about them there.

I certainly don’t want them preaching their political gospel, praising their favorite politicians, or making spiteful remarks about people they disapprove of through the mouths of the show’s characters – like they had Nathan Fillion do this week.

Sure, there are some characters (like Hugh Laurie’s Greg House) who you would expect to say something political, or plain rude, but let’s face it, House is an equal opportunity boor. Sometimes the theme of a TV drama demands that characters have a political stance on a current issue, at least for that episode, but most of the time, it’s not needed, and frankly, irritating.

Maybe I’m just being over-sensitive, but honestly, it almost had me reaching for the off switch, and much as I enjoy Castle, if it happens again, I’ll probably stop watching.

How about you?

Am I wrong to think it’s wrong, or should those writers leave their soapboxes and personal prejudice at home?

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( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 14th, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. Good question. I imagine people's reactions will be varied. Personally, I usually cringe because usually if they're expressing an opinion I support, they do it in an embarrassingly simplistic way, and if they express an opinion I don't support, I want to expostulate a bit. If it goes along with a character's personality--as you were saying about House, say--then I think it's okay, but I don't like when the writers appear to be assuming that all their viewers are going to share in a particular political opinion.

In polices shows, they'll sometimes take some issue--like, oh, say, whether to drug-test your teen kids--and explore it. Generally I find they just trot out the typical pro and con opinions on both sides. Those shows are pretty popular, so I guess a number of people do like that kind of thing on TV. The funny thing is, whatever side they come down on for a given issue, there are bound to be people offended.
Nov. 14th, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC)
I've seen it before in other shows. I don't mind when it's got something to do with the plot, but it jerks me right out of the show when it's gratuitous - I hope I spelled that right :)

Thanks for sharing :)
Nov. 14th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC)
The political assumptions of the writers always come through. For example, the assumption that capitalism is the best economics system, or democracy is the best political system. Or that the world is round, rather than flat.
Nov. 14th, 2009 10:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but they're more of a subtle intrusion.
Nov. 14th, 2009 11:48 pm (UTC)
They're not always subtle, but I guess you could say that they are so ingrained in an author's psyche that he or she is not even aware they are doing it. Whereas, the Castle incident sounds very deliberate.
Nov. 14th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
I suppose it's all a matter of venue. One of my favorite shows is 30 Rock. Without the political jabbing, it's just not as funny. The biggest joke of all is that Mega-liberal Democrat Alec Baldwin plays Super-conservative Republican Jack Donaghy. But that is the crux of the show--political and social idiocy.

But in a show like Castle? While I've only seen a few episodes, Fillion's character doesn't seem to hold strong political views that he often shares with the rest of the cast. Having him say something political stands out in that 'huh' way you describe. I wouldn't turn off after one jib-jab, but it might irk me if a character drawn one way for several seasons all of a sudden became a political mouthpiece for his writers.
Nov. 14th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
Castle is an affable, friend-to-all character, which is why his comment made me sit up. :(
Nov. 14th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
I think I'd have to say I love the cheap shots - better yet, I love the clever witty revealing lines. But I think I expect it more? It happens a lot in Aussie and British TV and it's funny. They have a couple of really good political-comedy shows here in Canada, but they're supposed to be taking a dig so that's different.

I've never heard of Castle, but it sounds like a show that's got nothing to do with politics so maybe that's what's so jarring? I can think of more than a few shows where a political dig would be really weird.

I tend to think that popular culture and entertainment should be a place for political commentary. Depends on how it's done, but it's an effective vehicle for critique and getting people to think beyond the surface - yet, on the downside, it's also perfect for propaganda (like Independence Day - wow, could you get any more blatant? What about 24?) I don't think I'm expressing myself at all well here. I don't think it needs to have anything to do with plot though. I'm not sure I would have noticed anything wrong with a snide side-comment about Dick Cheney. He is ripe for them after all ;)
Nov. 14th, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC)
Maybe it's just me then, but I do find it annoying, whichever side or person is being kicked.

Nov. 14th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
It didn't bother me for two reasons. One is I believe if there is a hell, Dick Cheney has a good shot at ending up there. But also, the line seemed consistent with Rick Castle's character; he often makes sort of throwaway snide comments about situations or people. This time the person happened to be a real person instead of another character in the show. Castle is a good example of the kind of show that likes to blur the lines between fiction and reality— like having real writers at poker games, and having Castle dress up as Nathan Frillon's previous staring role, Mal, from Firefly. Supposedly the character's office is full of objects from his previous show, but I've never been alert enough to spot them.
Nov. 14th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
That clip of Castle as Mal is one of of my few exposures to Castle. I nearly fell off my chair laughing.

I didn't know his office is supposedly filled with Mal memorabilia. I'll have to check it out on Hulu (which is the only place I've been able to watch Castle at all because of Monday Night Football!)
Nov. 14th, 2009 10:32 pm (UTC)
This was the first time i'd heard him express a political opinion/preference.
Nov. 15th, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
I'm not sure on that one. I don't remember any other political comments, but then I've only seen maybe half the episodes.

Nov. 15th, 2009 03:16 am (UTC)
Nov. 15th, 2009 07:44 am (UTC)
LOL! Love it. I'd suspect all politicians are robots ... except they are way too illogical *g*
Nov. 15th, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC)
Lol :P
Nov. 15th, 2009 07:43 am (UTC)
I dislike Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon books, because 70s style militant feminism had no place in the Arthurian legend. Pulled me out of the story, and I remained that way. Shows/books where you expect it, not a problem, but anything that jerks the reader out of the storyline is a Very Bad Thing. It'd be like Fran, in The Nanny sitcom, suddenly engaging in a quiet and learned conversation about Kafka's work. The suspension of disbelief couldn't hold through that mental huh?
Nov. 15th, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC)
That would certainly have thrown me :)
Nov. 15th, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
If it's a brief thing and is in character, I don't mind, but I read books to get out of the real world. I don't want to be reminded of all the crap that goes on here.

I started really getting tired of Battlestar Galactica because it went too political for me. I didn't stop watching it b/c of that, though. I stopped watching b/c it became just a little too ridiculous. Heard it got better towards the end, though.

But authors can do whatever they want. If I don't like it, I don't have to read them.
Nov. 15th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
True, very true :)
Nov. 16th, 2009 03:27 am (UTC)
Well, I'm not afraid to admit that I'm a conservative or Libertarian in my views. Maybe you've already guessed that about me . . . but over the many, MANY years of my adulthood I've noticed in books, movies, TV, whatever, that 99 to 1 the shots given are aimed at Republicans, not Democrats and yeah, it gets really old and annoying. But Hollywood is about 99% liberal so it's not surprising. I just think they should leave it alone because it usually feels contrived.
Nov. 16th, 2009 11:57 am (UTC)
I'm center-right when it comes to politics. Like you say, most shots are aimed at the Republicans. If it's actually funny, I don't mind, but it rarely is.

Thanks for sharing.
Nov. 16th, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC)
Absolutely yes, I'm with you on this one. I bitched about this at the SUPERNATURAL writers last year. A Cheney cheap shot (imagine that) from the mouth of some demon, that had absolutely nothing to do with the scene.

I'm smart enough to form my own opinions about things and people. I don't need their guidance.
Nov. 16th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
It reminds me of school, when the 'cool' kids got to decide who was popular and who wasn't - needless to say, I was usually in the latter ;)
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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