Friday, April 25, 2008

Implicit Messages: Law and Order

Last night marked the end of Jesse L. Martin's long run as Detective Ed Green on Law and Order. Green left a hero thanks to the heroic efforts of the writers, who contorted the plot sufficiently to cast him as a villain before turning him back into a hero by the end. They did this by exploiting the heroic efforts of Green's partner, who wouldn't stop believing in him and continued pursuing leads long after the case seemed to be wrapped up, and members of the DA's office, who wouldn't stop believing in him and discredited their own witness, among other things, to find the truth. The explicit message of this was that Green really was the upstanding, heroic guy we've always believed him to be. A secondary explicit message was probably one of of how your friends will come through for you if you really are an upstanding guy.

But I wonder about the implicit messages. Did the producers mean to imply that your best chance to have justice, if you're improperly accused of a crime, is to have powerful friends in the police department and the DA's office looking out for you? And what does this mean on the day after the program aired, when a judge in Queens acquitted three detectives in the shooting of Sean Bell?

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