Monday, November 2, 2009
To Catch a Predator, with Predator
Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator" is a creepy, guilty pleasure. It's very controversial, due to its obvious trial-by-public-opinion approach; I would wager that most men "caught" on the show soliciting sex from minors lose their jobs and/or wives, partners, girlfriends, friends, whatever dignity they might have had. However, a lot of the men featured on the show have successfully gotten their charges dropped and/or sued NBC.
I have mixed feelings about the show. Is it a trashy but effective deterrent for would-be sex offenders? Or just trashy and socially irresponsible? On the one hand, Chris Hansen and the camera crew intervene before anything super illegal happens, but the guys do show up expecting to meet a 13-year-old and usually arrive armed with beer and condoms. GROSS.
The format of the show is simple. First, we are shown excerpts from the online chat between the suspected predator and a decoy.
Huh, I never thought of Family Guy + weed as foreplay....thanks, icetruckkiller103!
Next, the decoy arranges a meeting. The guy shows up and is greeted not by the Taylor Swift-esque hottie he thought he was chatting with, but by Chris Hansen. Typically, the dialogue between Hansen and the suspected pedophile goes something like this:
Chris Hansen: Who did you think you were going to meet here?
Suspected Pedophile: Um...this girl Kristy that I met online.
CH: And how old is Kristy?
SP: Uh, I don't know. 17? 18?
CH: She told you she was 13. I have the transcript from your online chat.
SP: (color draining from his face) Well, I was just coming to hang out with her and, you know, talk...about stuff.
CH: You didn't come here to have sex?
CH: But you asked Kristy if she was a virgin and said you could (reading from the transcript) "sex her all night long." Isn't that right?
SP: (looking for the exit)....I don't remember?
Then the poor dude (again, I'm not excusing guys who try to pick up underage girls online, but you have to feel somewhat sorry for their televised humiliation) usually tries to leave, only to be cuffed and led to the police station.
It's a very formulaic show and after watching this happen to a few guys, it gets old. The show needs an update, a makeover, something to spice things up. Which is why I think they should replace Chris Hansen with Predator:
No offense, Chris, but I suspect that Predator's interview style would be more direct. He would just rip the guys' arms off and that would be the end of it. I mean, these guys' lives are basically ruined anyway so they might as well get a violent, memorable send-off. And the merchandising possibilities? Endless. Just look at what happened when Predator and Alien teamed up -- it was all kinds of awesome.
You're welcome, NBC.