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Racialicious Roundtable: Law & Order: SVU, “Funny Valentine,” Or “The One About Chris Brown And Rihanna”

By Tami Winfrey Harris, Arturo R. García, and Joseph Lamour


L&O screencap1

Tami: I am a dedicated fan girl of the Law & Order Mothership. And I kind of liked Vincent D’Onofrio’s Sherlocky Det. Goren on Criminal Intent (though he does have an element of the white guy super detective about him). But Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has always seemed particularly sordid and crass. This heavy-handed, “ripped from the headlines” exploitation fest is a great example of exactly why I just can’t with this series.

Joe: I usually like Law and Order: SVU (because I secretly want to be Mariska Hargitay’s best friend forever), but sometimes there’s a misstep. When they rip things from the headlines, usually, it’s not this close to what actually happened. This episode felt more like a dramatic reenactment on the Investigation Channel than a show that has won six Emmy Awards.

Tami: “Caleb Bryant?” That’s the name they’re going with?

Arturo:
Yeah, that was elegant. All of the “twists,” though, were really shortcuts: Micha wasn’t presented as being a star at Caleb’s level; she was just starting out; and her producer gets shot and there’s nothing the cops can work with.

Joe: At least they didn’t go with Chuck Green or something vaguely like that. Mischa Green. Let’s all say it together: “Boo.” I would have suggested Hannigan. (Get it?)

Tami: Does Dave Navarro have a crushing tax debt? Has the Jane’s Addiction and Chili Peppers cash run out? Why does he have a bit role in this horror show?

Joe: Maybe he was a victim of the Madoff scandal like Kyra Sedgewick and Kevin Bacon. I do love his show Ink Master, though! I also love that I still find that hair sexy. He can do no wrong for me. I can only guess he joined this episode as an open protest to what’s happening in the music industry. Although there’s no interview that clears that up. Sigh.

Tami: Can someone define “beef cookie” for me? Is that an insult that hasn’t made it to the Midwest yet?

Joe:
It hasn’t made it anywhere. LOL. It’s not on Urban Dictionary (’cause I’m sure Faux Fenty wasn’t calling Faux Karreuche “a small gathering of boys”), and I thought I found it in an ASAP Rocky song, but the person who put it in misheard “When the beef cooked”… so, in short, I have nothing but a guess: I think it means a woman who hits on a man even though she knows he has a girl already… so it’s like she wants to have a fight (beef=fight, girl=cookie). I think. That is nothing but a complete guess, however.

Chris Brown Caleb Bryant just uttered “Call my Jew,” and we are six minutes in.

Tami: The Law & Order franchise is notoriously bad at portraying the “urban music” community. It’s as if they cannot separate the rhetoric of genres like hip-hop from, you know, real, multi-dimensional people. [Remember when L&O, original recipe, did a “ripped from the headlines” epi about JLo and Puffy and that nightclub shooting? Puff Daddy was renamed G-Train and the episode was called…wait for it… “3 Dawg Night.” Yeah.]

It’s very meta when Bryant’s lawyer complains about the demonizing of young, black men in hip-hop within a franchise that is just as capable at that. “Call my Jew?”

The real “Caleb Bryant” is somehow talented and charming enough to make people forget that he is also a babyish, swaggering, violent fool. SVU’s Caleb Bryant is just a stereotype.

L&O screencap4Arturo: I think they tried to lampshade that with the Wendy Williams and Perez Hilton cameos. It’s not just that an abuser in this position has any sort of “charm,” but there’s a mechanism in place designed to protect those brands, as Mischa’s manager indicated.

Joe: Is it just me or is this actor playing Caleb Bryant wearing a lot of makeup?

Tami: He is. He looks like Nipsy Russell as the Tin Man in The Wiz. Is it just me or is the acting in this episode a pox on humanity?

Joe: That’s not just you.

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