So, I recently watched the episode of Law and Order: SVU that was about video games. Specifically it was about the GamerGate phenomenon. Now, I haven't talked much about GamerGate because I frankly don't want to acknowledge and give time to something as despicable as that movement. Law and Order, a Network TV show, chose to take it head on.
The short version of what I’m about to write below is that this was one of the most off message, poorly written, full of awful one liner that tries to be funny to everyone but is funny to none that I have ever seen. And I used to watch the current incarnation of Hawaii Five-0. I have to admit that I've never watched an episode of SVU before this one, so I'm not sure if the poor writing there was an exception or the rule, but it was not very good.
Throughout the episode the bad guys go from white male gamers to...I’m not even sure. I think the writers were going for a combination of Anonymous and ISIS. They put masks on and talk through synthesizers like Anonymous but behave like ISIS, threatening to rape and kill their victim, displaying her on video in compromised positions for all to see. Then at the end they turn back into white male gamers, since we have to make sure we know who this is all about.
I'm going to tackle the one liners first, since they're easy to get out of the way. But lines like there's no reset button on the real world" and “They leveled up” were littered throughout the episode. I’m honestly not quite sure who they intended to appeal to. People who like video games would find them cringeworthy at best, and most people who aren’t into gaming as much would either not understand them or find them annoying. I think the writers were trying to inject humour with cheesy lines about how a fugitive is “leveling up” but in the end, it just fell flat.
The actual story elements are not much better. The episode begins at a fictional gaming convention. Now, I’ve been to several gaming conventions, and apparently no one working on the show ever has, because it wasn’t like any I’ve ever been to. I’ve never once encountered people making fun of women, People aren’t generally screaming at monitors with women on them. I’m not going to tell you that there isn’t a gender gap at a gaming convention, but this sensationalizes it to a point of nauseam. The SVU team is there inexplicably, and the writers use them to make fun of people who like video games. A girl working at a booth is verbally abused by two white male gamers, and rightly tells them off. She’s then sexually assaulted in a bathroom by those same two white male gamers.
The girl who is originally assaulted in the bathroom is quickly forgotten though, since we have the real guest star to get to. the white male gamers are upset because she made a game without violence, since video games can only be violent, and they believe the only reason she got to do it is by sleeping with the owner of the development company. Seriously. Well she’s been threatened, but says that she can’t back down to the threats, which is a great message. SVU goes to the game launch, and even with half a dozen cops there she still gets kidnapped, because the episode wasn’t quite half over yet.
While SVU is looking for the suspects comes my second favorite part of the episode. The part where they talk to one of the white male gamer’s Mother, who proclaims that her son would just never do anything like that. He likes to play video games but he would never get involved in anything like a kidnapping! So they go on the guy’s computer and find that he’s been accessing the “darknet” to hide his actions.
So they kidnap the girl, rip her top off, threaten to rape her, then post videos of her being assaulted and admitting to things under threat. Very much trying to show that these male white gamers are as bad as ISIS. I don’t know how someone would connect the two, but the SVU writers certainly gave it the ole’ college try.
SVU eventually uses the power of the darknet™ to find the location where the bad guys are, find the girl taped to a shotgun pointed at the door, and free her. They then engage in a rooftop gun fight with the bad guys that includes, I’m not kidding you, several seconds of first person view. As if this episode wasn’t insulting enough the writers and director decided it would be neat to show the bad guys holding their gun in first person view, just like a violent video game! I was laughing for all the wrong reasons at this scene.
The good guys either shoot or handcuff the bad guys, and you’d think the episode was over, but it isn’t. I think that you can gather that I haven’t been a fan of the episode up to this point. This had been among the worst hours of TV I had ever seen, and it couldn’t possibly get worse….until it did.
Near the end of the episode, they talk to the girl, who says that the white male gamers won. After almost an hour of this nonsense the moral of the story should have been about how people should make sure that this very small minority does not rule the gaming community and that the vast majority of people are perfectly normal people who have no desire to kidnap and assault a female game creator. But in fact the writers of SVU made the bad guys win, saying that 3 white male gamers wearing masks can make that kind of difference. This was the message the writers conveyed in the show. I honestly cannot begin to articulate how disgusting I find this.
That took it from one of the worst hours of TV I have ever seen, to by far the worst thing I have ever seen on TV. Not only was the writing terrible, at the end the message was that the bad guys win. Whoever greenlit this episode and script should be fired, yesterday.
I said near the top that I had never watched an episode of SVU before this one. I won’t be watching another.