Law & Order’s Benson ‘should be canned’
Long-running popular police drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is the latest TV show to be drawn into controversy amid global protests around the Black Lives Matter movement.
The show, which has run for 21 seasons, stars Mariska Hargitay as "good cop" Olivia Benson.
Which, according to Rolling Stone writer EJ Dickson, is precisely why the character should be axed.
In the article "Olivia Benson: The Law and Order: SVU Protagonist Should Be Cancelled", Dickson writes that Benson is "the embodiment of all of the qualities we wish law enforcement figures would have: she's tough but fair, vulnerable yet steely-eyed, displaying constant compassion for survivors and providing no quarter to abusers".
"She always fights for and believes victims, a marked contrast to real-life law enforcement officials, whose record on convicting sexual offenders is abysmal," she wrote in Rolling Stone, adding that Benson is not the type of police officer who will change.
"Not fundamentally, because nobody wants Olivia Benson to change. We're probably not going to see her making an effort to hire more police officers of color. We're probably not going to see George Floyd incorporated into plotlines in anything but a cursory, ripped-from-the-headlines way."
Wilson Morales, editor of blackfilm.com, a news site that covers diversity on the big and small screens, disagreed with Dickson.
"Law & Order: SVU still exists because it's a done a good job covering these subjects over the years," Mr Morales said.
"These shows have covered issues like stop and frisk and police brutality before. When you have 21 years of renewals, it means they're doing something right.
"What's important is when the material on an episode deals with racial issues, you have never seen a situation where you see a bad cop get away with it."
Washington Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy declared the anti-Olivia Benson piece "really, really, really stupid", while The Blaze's Jessica Fletcher similarly called it "garbage."
Fans of the police drama were also unimpressed.
"Law and Order: SVU cancelled because Olivia Benson's character portrays a 'hero'! This is ridiculous! Why is the left winning?' wrote Twitter user who identifies as 'No One.'
'This guy has never watched a single episode,' tweeted Jefferson Starshein who posts on the online platform under the handle @Doubleh55.
A Twitter user who identifies as AdebisiK2-Total Life Changes fired back, 'Don't touch Law & Order' in a tweet under the handle @AdebisiK2.
Hargitay has portrayed the beloved Benson on all of the show's 21 seasons, and the show has remained popular due to its ability to tap into the zeitgeist and ability to address difficult issues.
Indeed, writers on the show have already stated they will address the fallout of George Floyd's murder in the upcoming season, show runner Warren Leight recently told The Hollywood Reporter's "TV's Top 5" podcast.
It has also emerged that Amazon Prime is considering dropping Dukes of Hazzard from its lineup over the show's use of Confederate flags.
The hit action and comedy show from the 1970s and 1980s about cousins Bo and Luke Duke living in rural Georgia prominently displays the flag on the roof of the program's iconic General Lee car.
In the US, Bloomberg reports that Amazon is considering dropping the program as it looks for potentially offensive content. There show broadcast 147 episodes over four seasons.
FAWLTY TOWERS EP REINSTATED AFTER CLEESE'S ANGE
An episode of classic 1970s sitcom Fawlty Towers is set to be reinstated on UKTV after the streaming service initially removed it because it contains "racial slurs".
The famous "don't mention the war" episode will return to the platform "in the coming days," according to a statement from the organisation. Guidance and warnings highlighting "potentially offensive content and language" will feature alongside the episode, it added.
UKTV, which is owned by BBC Studios, previously said it had temporarily made The Germans unavailable while it carried out a review.
The decision was criticised by John Cleese, who played misanthropic hotel owner Basil Fawlty in the series.
UKTV said "we recognise that more contextual information can be required on our archive comedy, so we will be adding extra guidance and warnings to the front of programmes to highlight potentially offensive content and language". "
We will reinstate Fawlty Towers once that extra guidance has been added, which we expect will be in the coming days," it said.
"We will continue to look at what content is on offer as we always have done."
The episode first aired in 1975 and features Basil Fawlty goose-stepping around while shouting "don't mention the war" in front of a group of visiting Germans.
It also contains scenes showing the Major Gowen character using offensive language about the West Indies cricket team.
According to reports, Major Gowen's scenes had already started to be edited out by some broadcasters.
"The major was an old fossil left over from decades before. We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them," Cleese told the newspaper.
"If they can't see that, if people are too stupid to see that, what can one say?".
But while the Fawlty Towers episode has been reinstated, other titles have been removed as streaming services and TV networks react to the wave of Black Lives Matter and anti-racism protests across the globe.
Here's what has been pulled from their catalogues:
Netflix has dropped some of Australian comedian Chris Lilley's back catalogue, including Angry Boys, Summer Heights High, We Can Be Heroes, and Jonah From Tonga.
Each series depicted Lilley in black- or brownface.
However, Ja'mie: Private School Girl, and Netflix original Lunatics remain on the streaming platform.
Netflix UK has ripped David Walliams and Matt Lucas' Little Britain and their later series Come Fly with Me from its list of titles.
Both Walliams and Lucas dressed up as black and Asian women in Little Britain with their portrayal labelled racist, while other recurring characters have been accused of being ableist and transphobic.
In mockumentary Come Fly With Me which is centred around a fictional airport, Lucas wore blackface for kiosk manager Precious Little, while Walliams wore dark makeup to play the character Moses Beacon, a passenger liaison officer.
Netflix UK has also removed the series The League of Gentlemen and The Mighty Boosh, the latter of which featured various episodes of stars Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding wearing black and white face paint.
While the BBC has decided to reinstate the Fawlty Towers it had pulled from its streaming service UKTV, it has removed Little Britain from it's iPlayer catch-up service.
The moves comes amid a wider review by the BBC that is checking whether programs comply with modern editorial standards and expectations.
HBO Max says Gone with the Wind will eventually return to the platform with a discussion about its historical context and a denouncement of its racist depictions.
On Tuesday, HBO Max removed the 1939 film from its library in the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd.
"Gone with the Wind is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society," an HBO Max spokesperson said.
"These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible." The spokesperson said that when the film was returned to HBO Max it would be with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of the racist depictions.
Nine Entertainment-owned streaming service Stan has reportedly removed Little Britain and Come Fly with Me from its list of titles.
It has also purged the film Tropic Thunder, where Robert Downy Jr appears in blackface for the majority of the movie.
The National Broadcaster has revealed it is conducting a "harm and offence" review of its past and present programming following Netflix's decision to remove a number of Chris Lilley titles.
The ABC, which also runs video-on-demand and catch up TV service iview, said in a statement: "We are reviewing our content to ensure it meets current community standards and reflects our editorial policies on harm and offence," according to Nine Newspapers.
"Community attitudes change across time and context, and we recognise that the ways in which some characters have been depicted in the past might be considered deeply objectionable or offensive today."
After 33 seasons on the air, Cops has been dropped by the Paramount Network as protests against police proliferate around the world.
"Cops is not on the Paramount Network and we don't have any current or future plans for it to return," a spokesperson for the cable channel said in a statement on Tuesday.
The show had been pulled temporarily from the air in late May, when protests aimed at police over the death of George Floyd began to gain momentum. That move was made permanent Tuesday.
It's not clear whether the company that makes the show, Langley Productions, would try to find a new home for it.
A&E Network has cancelled the police reality series Live PD after weeks of protests inspired by the death of George Floyd and a report that a crew from the show filmed the death of another black man in police custody.
"This is a critical time in our nation's history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD," A&E said in a statement.
"Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them. And with that, we will be meeting with community and civil rights leaders as well as police departments."
Just as Paramount Network did with Cops, A&E had already ceased airing episodes of Live PD before announcing on Wednesday that it was dropping the show altogether.
Live PD, which had been on the air since 2016, had a more news documentary approach than Cops, which let police speak almost entirely for themselves.
"Shocked & beyond disappointed about this," the show's host, veteran journalist Dan Abrams, said on Twitter.
"To the loyal #LivePDNation please know I, we, did everything we could to fight for you, and for our continuing effort at transparency in policing. I was convinced the show would go on."
A Nine spokesman confirmed the network had also pulled LIVE PD, which was scheduled to air on 9Rush Friday, from its schedule.
An SBS spokewoman said they also pulled Live PD, which was on SBS On Demand and SBS VICELAND.
"We constantly review our content offering considering the impact and context in which it's being shown, and make occasional changes," she said.
"We're focused on ensuring Australians have access to a range of programming and coverage across the network which explores and encourages understanding of issues impacting our society."
A Seven spokeswoman: "We continually review our content to ensure it's the best possible offer for viewers and advertisers.
Originally published as Law & Order's Benson 'should be canned'