Accuracy in Media

I’m sometimes troubled by criticism or boycotts of television programs that haven’t aired. It can be difficult to draw conclusions about shows based entirely on descriptions of plots and characters alone. But the conservative Christians who targeted “The Book of Daniel” on NBC without seeing it in advance were absolutely correct. “The Book of Daniel” is not the same thing as a Jerry Springer show, but it comes terribly close.

New York Daily News TV critic David Bianculli had gotten a real advance peek. And in an article headlined, “Don’t judge this ‘Book’ by its boycott,” he insisted that the show was a high quality production, had “the heart of a warm family drama,” and that its characters were attractive and delightful. I thought that maybe the critics were all wrong. Having seen the first program, however, I will never trust what Bianculli has to say again. This fellow has a weird concept of family values. 

As I noted in a previous column,  the program tries to attract viewers by mocking Jesus Christ and featuring demented Christians, including a Catholic priest with Mafia connections. Created by an ex-Catholic homosexual, the show features an Episcopal priest who is addicted to painkillers and talks to a mystical wise-cracking Jesus. One of his sons is a homosexual and his daughter is arrested for selling marijuana. His sister-in-law has a lesbian affair while her husband steals millions of dollars from the church.

Ignoring all of this, Bianculli told his readers that the main character, the Episcopal priest, works his way through various problems but always relies on “love, family and faith to see him through.”  He must have watched a different program than I did. There’s very little love in this show. It’s mostly behind-the-back maneuvering, pill-popping, marijuana dealing, scheming, and sexual affairs of one kind or another. The only sympathetic character is the minister’s homosexual son, who is being forced by his meathead relatives to date a girl-any girl-that he will never be physically attracted to.

I can’t explain why Bianculli decided to promote this show, but it’s a fact that on the same day his review of “The Book of Daniel” was published, he wrote a glowing review of “The L Word,” a pro-lesbian series running on the Showtime cable channel. Here’s his description of one character in the show: “Jenny went from wide-eyed, curious innocent to self-destructive seductress, bouncing from affair to affair, and gender to gender, using eye contact as her version of foreplay. She discovered writing as a passion-but also discovered drugs and self-mutilation.”

Bianculli called the series “groundbreaking.”

I guess he’s right about that. But I think he meant “groundbreaking” in a positive sense. 

At this rate, they’ll break so much ground there won’t be anything left for this society to stand on.

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