Rolling Stone writer EJ Dickson called for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and character Olivia Benson to be cancelled in the wake of protests, riots, and looting following the death of George Floyd.
Dickson shared her Rolling Stone article titled, “Sorry, Olivia Benson Is Canceled Too” on Twitter writing, “May the good lord forgive me.”
may the good lord forgive me https://t.co/OAG4svaFub
— Ej Dickson (@ejdickson) June 12, 2020
Benson, played by actress Mariska Hargitay, has been part of Law & Order: SVU and appeared in over 475 episodes since the show began in 1999. The character currently holds the rank of Captain and is the Commanding Officer of the Manhattan Special Victims Unit of the New York Police Department. When the show began she was a Detective.
The call to cancel Benson and Law & Order: SVU comes after Law & Order creator Dick Wolf fired a Law & Order writer for declaring his intent to defend his home from violent rioters and looters.
In her article, Dickson describes Benson as “The quintessential Good Cop.” She adds that she’s “the embodiment of all of the qualities we wish law enforcement figures would have: she’s tough but fair, vulnerable yet steely-eyed, displaying constant compassion for survivors and providing no quarter to abusers.”
She continues, “She always fights for and believes victims, a marked contrast to real-life law enforcement officials, whose record on convicting sexual offenders is abysmal.”
However, she would later add that Benson’s character won’t change. Dickson explains, “But Olivia Benson won’t change, not fundamentally, because nobody wants Olivia Benson to change.”
She continues, “We’re probably not going to see her making an effort to hire more police officers of color. We’re probably not going to see George Floyd incorporated into plot lines in anything but a cursory, ripped-from-the-headlines way.”
As a point of fact, the character that has been in the second most episodes of SVU behind Benson is Ice-T’s Odafin Tutuola. BD Wong has appeared in 230 episodes as Dr. George Huang and Tamara Tunie has appeared in 223 episodes as Dr. Melinda Warner. The show also recently featured actress Jamie Gray Hyder as Katriona Tamin. Adam Beach also played Chester Lake back in 2007.
Dickson ignores this information and adds, “We’re probably not going to see her being taken to task in front of an internal review board for overseeing a cop roughing up a black male suspect.”
“Such changes run counter to the paradigm that governs the show,” she writes.
Dickson then gets to the crux of the matter on why she wants Benson canceled. She writes, “No matter how fraught the role of law enforcement officials become in the cultural imagination, no matter how embedded she is in a system that perpetuates racism and misogyny and brutality, nobody wants to see Olivia Benson as anything but a hero.”
She continues, “We need to believe the system is not totally broken. We need to believe that cops are not totally irredeemable. We need to believe that some cops can be Good because Olivia Benson is Good, even if to hold her up as the exception to the rule that perpetuates the #notallcops line of thinking that leads some people to nod their heads when Fox News demonizes the protesters in the first place.”
Dickson then concludes her article explicitly calling for Olivia Benson to be canceled.
She writes, “The truth is that, if you agree that the system is broken and great changes need to be made on all levels to fix it, you can’t pick and choose what needs to be changed.”
“No matter how much you love Olivia Benson, you have to be willing to grapple with the fact that she plays a major role in perpetuating the idea that cops are inherently trustworthy and heroic, and that many viewers are unable to distinguish between the gossamer fantasy of how justice should be handled, and how it actually is,” she continues.
Dickson adds, “If cops are canceled, that means all cops are canceled, up to and including the strong and pretty ones we like to watch break down pedophiles in interrogation rooms.”
Dickson then indicates that her call to cancel Olivia Benson and Law & Order: SVU is part of a revolution. She writes, “Revolution can’t be built on the backs of the exceptions, and those who perpetuate toxic systems can’t be deemed immune to critique just because we like them.”
She concludes, “It’s the simplest equation there is: if all cops are bastards, and Olivia Benson is a cop, that means she’s — kind of — a bastard.”
Dickson’s call to cancel Olivia Benson and one has to assume Law & Order: SVU comes after Paramount Network canceled Cops.
A spokesperson told IndieWire, “’Cops is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return.”
Following Cops’ cancellation, A&E canceled Live PD. A spokesperson stated, “This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on ‘Live PD.’”
They added, “Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them. And with that, we will be meeting with community and civil rights leaders as well as police departments.”
It also comes after other shows featuring police officers have come under fire including Paw Patrol.
What do you think of the view that all police-related entertainment “should be canceled”. Does it make any sense, or are we witnessing massive overkill? Let me know your thoughts!