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The CSI Effect and TV Crime Fiction

August 16, 2010

How does TV crime fiction effect the real world? There is a phenomenon called the CSI effect in which jurors in real life trials expect to see DNA magicians and their magic displayed front and centre. When this miracle of modern television and the fertile minds of busy script writers fails to materialise, the viewers, sorry jurors, become disappointed and lose interest. Somehow the Reality Principal always seems to get in the way and spoils the fun. 

Similarly when episodes of Law and Order give the impression that serious crimes can be solved with a more or less satisfactory outcome in a lightning speed time frame,  the general public feels cheated when actual justice is unreasonably delayed or not present at all. We have been watching cop heroes since the beginning yet often the real ones don’t quite measure up.

Systemic corruption along the lines of what has happened in Victoria Australia is rarely canvassed on serial TV and when it is that too is usually cleaned up within the timeframe of each hourly episode. Even superhero California “Governorator” Arne doesn’t always fly to script but that’s life I guess. I suppose the closest life came to imitating art in this sense was the triumph of former actor then US President Reagan weilding  his laser sword Star Wars program credited with vanquishing the Soviet Union and the Soviet Bloc in one fall swoop. While that scenariop can be disputed (others credit former Soviet Premier Gorbachov and others with ending the long running Cold war) it does highlight that while Hollywood (and Bollywood for that matter) doesn’t show life as it really is it does show life as it could be. Perfection is not achievable in the real, street world yet imagination can and does lead to better things in the here and now.

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