Sunday, 3 May 2009

Complaint Department: Horatio Cane

These people hate you.

So this is the second time CSI: Miami has come up in this blog, and that's one more time than is strictly necessary. But while I was watching TV the other night, I was assaulted by CBS's plug for a new upcoming episode of the show everyone loves to hate. The verbal abuse was delivered, unsurprisingly, by Horatio Cane, lead investigator of the Miami-Dade crime lab. After arriving on the scene, which happens to be on location of a popular Bachelor-type show, David Caruso says, "Looks like reality just got real."


We've all seen that 8 minute youtube video of Caruso delivering line after tedious line of ridiculous pronouncements. But this one has got to be the worst yet. Or perhaps ever. The line is so profoundly stupid, so insultingly postmodern, that I have to wonder if the writers are making a joke at my expense. I know Caruso's not the punchline--he's been spouting this crap for seven years--so it has to be me.

CSI: Miami hates its audience.

It's cool to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays!

I'll admit to hating reality TV, but that's my own issue. I fully acknowledge that all TV functions on the same basic principles and my favourite shows are, in a way, no better than my least favourites. But CSI: Miami has, with that one line of dialogue, managed to offend its viewers by claiming that it is better than every other show on television. This claim, I'll admit is buried deep in subtext, but it is there.

"Reality just got real."

Fact: reality TV is not real. It is constructed, like every other show, to give the impression of being real while delivering drama. When we sit down to watch, we willingly suspend our disbelief and buy into the proposed verisimilitude. It's like a contract--I agree to believe what you're telling me is real enough, so long as you agree to not pretend otherwise. CSI: Miami is a prime-time drama; the show takes itself seriously and, in spite of it's preposterous storytelling, is meant to be taken seriously by its audience. There is no room for postmodern, self-referential philosophizing within the context of the show--it simply doesn't fit the format. So when Horatio Cane remarks on the "reality" of the situation, David Caruso is proposing that I'm a sucker for believing in his show.

Scream and the postmodern

This shit just got real. I totally survived this wreck.

Postmodernism figures in film quite often and the self-referential nature of some films does nothing to break the willing suspension of disbelief. Scream, for instance, was postmodern in the extreme and was a big hit. Postmodernism on TV is, as far as I know, quite rare. There are certain episodes that are shows-within-shows, including one episode of regular CSI, but that ep was filmed from the point of view of the reality show and still took the premise of CSI seriously. CSI: Miami takes itself seriously, too, but it devalues both it's seriousness and false reality by claiming that it represents a truer reality than that represented on reality TV.

So, to conclude this overly pretentious and poorly-written installment on CSI: Miami, let me just say that no show should ever pretend to be more than it is. Doing so only alienates the audience. And pisses off everyone else.

This has nothing to do with my point. I just think it's funny.


jazzy said...

"no show should ever pretend to be more than it is."
Your premise is faulty, thereby negating your entire article.

Nice try, though.

DiveMistress said...

How so?