No, it’s the fact that I spent years watching this show while doing the same wrestling I feel when I watch an actor who abused his wife or one of my favorite movies that’s unfortunately directed by a pedophile, except worse. Instead of just feeling like I’m indirectly supporting a terrible person, I feel like I’m directly supporting a morally negative show. Every time I see an increasingly violent introduction — after all, keeping viewers watching after Stabler’s departure isn’t easy — or another quick, painless carrying out of justice against a perpetrator, I get sick. They’ve increased how violent and how long their rape scenes are which, though I believe rape should be depicted in ugly, ugly realism, is obviously stylized and done for ratings and to maintain the interest of people who, let’s be honest, are okay with watching increasingly fucked up rape scenes.
Believe me, I get it: horrifying things are interesting. Rape is horrifying. So by my own logic, rape is therefore “interesting.” It is not, however, entertaining and I think that’s where SVU crosses the line into exploitative.
This is extremely dangerous. Dispersing the association of rape and normalcy among the general public is very, very bad, but we know that already: that’s why rape jokes can be so dangerous, that’s why ads depicting women drunk “causing their own rapes” is dangerous. Pretending it’s normal and entertaining, even, to see people raped and go through that process is nothing short of terrible. Rape is common, but it will never be normal.
The show is thirteen years old (yes, really); shouldn’t it have had some sort of bar mitzvah and grown up finally? Instead, I just feel like it’s evolving into that gross kid who grows a little tinted hair over his lip and starts punching the people he previously only taunted. It’s still using the same formula as ever: finding women’s bodies in parks, getting people riled up and then resolving in a convoluted ending using several misrepresentations of the legal system.