Ever read a news story and think "Wow, Dick Wolf is going to make some poor writer's guild motherfucker turn that into a 'Law and Order: SVU' episode by noon tomorrow." Sometimes, things just cry out to be "ripped from the headlines."
Generally, anything that combines the three magic ingredients:
1. Favorite victims. Somebody demographically attractive to the psyche. Children are best, teenagers will do, women are acceptable, upper-class is ideal, but middle class will do and white will suffice. Essentially, news that happens to people as unlike urban minority young men as possible is the most marketable kind of news, and thus, ripe for the ripping.
2. Sex. Ideally, there will be actual sex, somewhere involved. A sex act is best, including rape, sodomy, or molestation. Next best is things that are tangentially related to sex, but isn't actually a sex act- the results of sex or the need to avoid sexualized environments. A distant third best would be something unrelated to sex, but having to do with sexualized parts of the body- breasts, genitals, buttocks.
3. Something weird to spice it up, and add distance or a feeling of superiority for the viewer: a strange religion, drug involvement, something culturally, geographically, or ethnically distant.
For example, take the "Dateline: NBC- To Catch a Predator" phenomenon. It presents a sympathetic victim (a young, middle-class white woman, pretending to be a young, middle class white pre-teen), sex (the predator assumes he's going to participate in a sex act, and may have already been...participating in one...on the way over), and spice (internet chat rooms- our new favorite danger).
Another example- the goodole texas polygamy raid. It involved young, white teenage girls (and some children!). It involved sex- not a sex act, but the looming specter of child marriage, which implies sex. It involved that third element- a religion so different that every woman capable of menstruating has to wear her hair like Alice on the Brady Bunch.
As a blast from the past, remember the whole pre-teen blowjob thing years ago? Everyone was so concerned that twelve year old girls were blowing entire varsity teams...it was featured on every prime-time drama with a captive writing room and quick turn-around time, every network news magazine? Young girls, check. Sex act, check. Extra spice? That was the problem. There was nothing to give it distance. Parents got too scared, and didn't want to watch anymore; sensible people began to ask whether the acts described were physically possible to perform - nevertheless perform without being caught.
So this week's story on the Gloucester High School teen pregnancy squad will be a Law and Order. It WILL be a Dr. Phil. Goddamn right it'll be a dateline. Look at the article.
Young girls. Who are middle class.
Sex. And, even better than sex qua sex, pregnancy can be daytime fare, because you can talk about teen pregnancy while pretending you're not talking about sex. Sex is so much... more clean, more pure, more family-friendly...when people aren't having it because it feels good.
A third element: religion. (Catholic). And if that's not distancing enough for you, then the pact. It adds spice. It hints at a subculture in the way that the pre-teen blowjob party story did.
I was going to blog about the story in the context of choice- in that, it will always be a challenge for people who are pro choice, pro reproductive rights, to step up, and say: If I stand for a woman's right to choose to have an abortion, at any age- I will stand for a woman's right to choose to become pregnant, at any age. And I was going to blog about whether there is, or should be a discussion about whether choice has to incorporate the right to choose to become pregnant, at any age, or whether pro-choice people get to backdoor out of the discussion by saying "after the age of consent, of course..."