Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Where is the morality?

Two television series ended on Friday night. Hustle on BBC1  and Law and Order on ITV1. I was a fan of both television programmes and enjoyed every episode. I do enjoy crime dramas and both programmes were well scripted. Law and Order was an instant hit as you watched the trail to bring the bad guys to justice. Hustle was very different because the programme was from the point of view of some very devious criminals. The viewer was encouraged to have empathy for these criminals as they cheated people out of goods, money or services. These bad guys doing these criminal acts, who called themselves grifters, all had likeable personalities. As a viewer, you grew fond of these criminals as the series progressed. You cheered as they conned people with their elaborate scams.

The ethical problem I have is this: I enjoyed Law and Order because the good guys tried to bring the bad guys to justice. I enjoyed Hustle because the criminals got away with cheating people by using their scams. This should not be right! I should not enjoy criminals cheating people and getting away with it! The BBC have taken a brave decision commissioning a programme that supports criminal activity, especially when the characters are so likeable and witty.

Thankfully this is only light entertainment and make-believe television and not official guidance to the general public. It just poses the question, where is the morality of a public broadcaster?

Hustle got away with it because the gang were conning unpleasant and dishonest marks. They almost had a "Robin Hood" type image and in one episode did return some money taken from a crook to an honest person.

You didn't feel sorry for their victims and felt that they deserved everything they had coming to them.

Both Hustle and Law and Order were favourites of mine and a pity they have both finished. But I do like many of the American crime shows; CSI, NCIS and the original Law and Order which are all shown regularly on cable TV.

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