Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"Boston Legal" Funny or Offensive?

Okay, who watched "Boston Legal" Thursday night, May 16th on the ABC television

Here's what happened. Brad and Denise (lawyers in the firm) are getting
married. Denise is 9 months preggie. She can't make it to the church because
she's in labor. Brad ( smartly outfitted in his full Marine uniform) hollers to
the church guests, "Quick. A bastard is being born. We need a priest!!!" At
this point we aren’t clear if the priest will marry the two lovebirds in time to
deliver a “normal” baby. Or, if he’s not on time, will he perform an exorcism
on the bastard ?

Switch to hospital room, where Denise is about .0001 centimeter away from giving
birth. The nurse is telling her “not to push yet.” Brad is still wailing for a
clergy person - ANY clergy person, be it rabbi, minister, guru, ship’s captain,
shaman - monk.- medicine man. Just so long as the person can get there in time
to "efface the bastard."

To the rescue - Shelley Berman, senile judge laid up in the next room, performs
the ceremony in his backless hospital gown, and saves the day

Next scene: Now Denise can push and a beautiful baby girl is born. Daddy Brad
says, "She's the most beautiful daughter in the whole world."

I wonder what the baby would have looked like if she had been born a few minutes
earlier? Would she still have been beautiful?

Funny or offensive?

I was stunned. I’m quite used to hearing the word “bastard” being tossed around
as an old and established insult, as in “I’ll kick that bastard’s ass,” or “The
bastard won’t give me a divorce.” That’s fine with me.

But I’m not accustomed to hearing a new baby blatantly labeled a bastard on
national television and I do not like it one bit. I was offended; in fact, I
was astounded!

This show comes directly from the mouth of producer and director David Chase,
long time self- righteous television producer/preacher..

David Chase has often used “Boston Legal,” (and its predecessor “The Firm” ) as
a sounding board for his personal political viewpoints. It’s like going to church. Somewhere near the end of nearly every episode you sigh
because you know what’s coming next - the sermon.,

Wouldn’t it be nice if David Chase would stop calling for the effacement of
bastards and instead take a look at the real issues that surround all adult
bastards and their families.

I’d love to hear James Spader stand before a jury and plead our case. Let him
call for the effacement of all sealed records laws. Now that would be justice.

So why do we call ourselves Bastards at Bastard Nation?

The half-century old archaic practice of impounding and sealing an adopted
person's original birth records in perpetuity has had the disastrous effect of
breeding deep and long lasting attitudes of shame in all areas of the adoption
process. Secrets and lies abound.

So we decided to reclaim the term "Bastard" -- to take it back and make it ours.
In so doing, we hope to explode the myths of shame surrounding adoption and
focus attention on the absolute necessity of changing the laws.

We folks at Bastard Nation believe that there is NOTHING shameful about
adoption. We selected this name because we will no longer be made to feel shamed
by the odious state laws which permanently seal our original birth records.

We do not fling the word "bastard" at anyone. Rather, we wear it proudly as we
work to achieve our goal of equal and unconditional access to original birth
records for each and every adult adoptee.

Since our founding in 1996, Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization, has
redefined the adoptee rights struggle in terms of civil rights, empowerment and
tactical activism.



Anonymous said...


I do not watch "Boston Legal" becasue I do not like Shatner's or Shore's characters. That said, here are my comments on the show you described.

As you are well aware the radical religious right has made a concerted effort to undo the past 45 years of progress in the affirmation and praxis of individual rights and liberties. Their goal is to put the libertine genie as they see it back in the bottle. And as we all know their primary target is expressions of human sexuality. They promote, and wherever possible mandate, "covenant marriage" and "abstinence-only-before-marriage" sex education courses in public schools. Consider this as one barrel of their shotgun approach to making "morality" their social and political agenda. The other barrel is their condemnation of birth control, abortion, and homosexuality.

We need to understand why they have been so successful in achieving their agenda. The reason is that they have developed language that frames debates on these issues that reflect their religious faith beliefs. Much of this language is designed to make people feel guilty if they oppose the position of the radical religious right e.g., you cannot be a good person or a "Christian" if you do not agree with them. Thus, they use emotionally charged language that affirms their religious beliefs while by its very use condemns those who do not believe as they do.

Let us not be naive. Their sponsorship of 800 phone numbers and "crisis pregnancy centers" advertised to "help" pregnant women in crisis are lures to brainwash these women into relinquishing their babies - to be placed in good right wing "Christian" homes - must be seen for what it is: a variation on the theme of coerced relinquishment and adoption of babies into the closed records system.

It is easy to see that one of the reasons unmarried teens and women who get pregnant keep their babies is that much of the stigma formerly attached to being unmarried and pregnant no longer exists. Such women and their families no longer feel the guilt of such a pregnancy. The family name and honor is no longer sullied or shamed by bringing a bastard into the world.

The radical religious right wants that to change. They want unmarried teens and women to feel guilty. They want families to feel that the family name and honor has been sullied and shamed. They want these babies made available for adoption to be raised as good right wing "Christians."

So, they desperately want to bring shame and blame back into unmarried pregnancy. What better way to do that than to bring back the pejorative meaning of bastardy and bastard children than returning that value to American society. Moreover, what better way to achieve that end than to promote that value through the mass media.


Anonymous said...

Boston Legal is about as far left as a television show is allowed to go. It blasts the right at any given opportunity to the point that the staunchly Republican Denny Crane even participates in a gay marriage.

The episode in question uses Brad's rigid ideologies to parody the idea that a baby born to an unmarried couple is any less perfect than those born in wedlock. This is presented in a ridiculous manner and the fact that the couple are married within seconds of the birth pushes that point home.

Anyone who thinks that Boston Legal pushes a right wing agenda needs to look up 'satire' in the dictionary and then stop watching tv. It's too smart for you.

A couple of corrections to your comment - David E Kelley is the writer/producer of Boston Legal and its predecessor was The Practice.