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We’ve come a long way


“Clear!” “Clear!” “Clear!”

What’s that – an emergency-room doctor about to use a defibrillator on somebody? Or the group chant at a Scientology convention? Neither. It’s the scene, in almost every episode of almost every TV cop show, when the police, or the feds, or whoever the good guys are, break down the door and barge into a house where there may or may not be some bad guys, and then rush from room to room, knees slightly bent and guns held in both hands, swiveling back and forth as they prematurely shout “Clear!” to each other – even though not one of them has bothered to check for would-be perpetrators in the closet or behind the drapes or under the bed.

This is either authentic police procedure or it’s a cliché that the actors have been told is authentic police procedure. The two-fisted grip seems to make sense; the gun won’t kick as much, so your aim will be better, especially if you have to fire more than one shot, which you never know. But that ignores the question of whether this is the home of an innocent citizen who, if he hears all the hubbub and makes the mistake of emerging from the bathroom at the wrong moment, is going to get plugged.

And the whole kicking-in-the-door part rings less than true because, gee, all this time I thought you needed a warrant, or at least some evidence with which to convince a judge, after the fact, that you plausibly believed you had probable cause to think that a crime might be in progress or a victim might be in immediate danger. Guess I was wrong.

But don’t worry; I’ve got more gripes about TV – enough, it seems, to prove something that I’d rather keep quiet: the fact that I watch far too much of it. I’ve got a pretty good excuse, though, in that I’ve recently become semi-retired. Guess I’d better find me a TV rehab program, and soon.

Anyway, on those same cop shows they’re always handling paper cups of coffee that are clearly empty, and pretending to take a sip. (“NCIS” is the worst offender here, with its empty Starbucks cups.)

And there now seem to be four or five “reality” shows set in tattoo parlors. There was “L.A. Ink” and “N.Y. Ink” and now there are tattoo-repair shows and even a sort of tattoo Olympics, in which a dozen or more fairly gruesome-looking characters compete for the foolish title of “Ink Master” by practicing their questionable artistic ability each week on the living skin of a batch of willing tattoo victims.

I have two problems with this: First, have we forgotten that these are the people your parents used to warn you about? Well, it would seem so. And, second, has our pop culture arrived at the point where plenty of people are happy to have very bad artwork permanently etched onto their bodies, just so they can be on television? Good question.

Meanwhile, the world’s a mess, so why am I getting all agitated about this stuff? Better question.

And what about those shoes? Any relatively young and relatively stylish woman on television today – Heidi Klum, say, or Chelsea Handler – is required to wear shoes with grotesque styling and heels so high that it’s a miracle she can walk across the set without tipping over. They look like torture devices but what they really are are prostitute shoes, the kind of shoes that at one time could be found only in fetish magazines or the Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog. But now they’re mainstream.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

Reach Glenn Richter at grichter@record-journal.com.



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