Sunday, January 9, 2011

How Hollywood Depicts Sex Offenders

Recently, I began receiving the show, Californication, season three, via Netflix. I watched the first two seasons with interest because A) the character played by David Duchovny commits a sexual offense by sleeping with a 16 year old girl and B) I like David as an actor since I was a big fan of The X-Files.

In the first season, David's character, Hank Moody, discovers that the girl he's sleeping with is the 16 year old daughter of his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend. Talk about a whoops. He hadn't known how old she was, and she hadn't bothered to tell him. Interestingly enough, the girl, Mia, played by Madeline Zima, bears a striking resemblance to my husband's "victim", known as Cassandra, in my book.

As the series progressed, it appeared that Hank was going to get away with his crime, and I began to lose some interest in the show. As I delved into season three, I became even less interested and thought to myself that I would stop watching the show after the third season ended; that I wouldn't put season four in my queue.

Last night, I watched the season finale of season three.

Well, NOW I've changed my mind!

*Spoiler alert, in case you have not seen it*

In this season ender, the shit looks like it's going to hit the proverbial fan as Mia returns with her agent who knows the truth about her and Hank's relationship. He and Hank wind up in a fist fight and and then Hank has to go tell his ex girlfriend about Mia and they have a big fight. Then, law enforcement shows up and he is hauled off in a police cruiser, presumably arrested for his assault on the agent - or could it be for his sexual crime? Or both?

We won't know until season four.

I have to admit, I am skeptical that he'll get anything more than a slap on the wrist. He might spend a night in jail, and get off scott-free without having to register as a sex offender for life. Judging from the cover art on the not-yet-released season four DVD set, Hank is depicted sitting in a comfy chair while his family and Mia stand around him. He is not depicted in a jail cell - which is where he would be in the real world. In the episode I just watched, Mia says she would never press charges, but in the real world, she wouldn't have to. When it comes to any sexual activity with an underage person, proof is not at all necessary to convict, and neither is truth. Many people are incarcerated simply because they were acused of something they didn't do.

I have seen countless depictions of people committing sexual crimes in movies and on TV shows and have yet to see anything even closely resembling the way it really is in the real world today, as they rarely get into any kind of real trouble for it. How many times have we watched a Hank Moody seduce or be seduced by a sexually active teen? As viewers, what do we think? Do we think, "Hey! This guy should be arrested, he's a horrible perverted predatory pedophile!" Nah, the liklihood is that we as viewers think, "Hey, dang, he's getting lucky!"

At least that's clearly what Holllywood thinks, as the message is clear that they think it's a perfectly normal and natural thing to do, and that you won't get into any real trouble for it.

No wonder people get so blind-sided when they find themselves in a whole heap of real trouble for doing the same things. They just have no idea until after the fact, and the real consequences come to light.

Law enforcement and the judicial system says "there is no excuse for ignorance of the law". Well, I say, TELL us what the law is - in every detail - so that we aren't ignorant of it!

A good place to start would be Hollywood.