I put in long hours at my computer. And at the end of the day, you’ll often find me watching television as a means of winding down. I’m a fan of Antiques Roadshow, Wheel of Fortune, and Master Chef. But I also like a good detective show and was disappointed when The Closer wrapped up its final season.
But I have never been a fan of Criminal Minds. I find the show to be voyeuristic and almost celebratory in its exploration of perversion and evil. My spirit recoils at the sight of torture. I choose not to numb myself to the horror this show depicts. As someone who speaks in the nation’s prisons and to women who struggle in the aftermath of violence and sexual abuse with post-traumatic stress disorder (see the Trauma Queens website at TraumaQueens.org), the realities of evil are personal to me.
This week Mandy Patinkin came out with surprising public statement. “[Performing on] Criminal Minds was very destructive to my soul and my personality.” (Huffington Post) In his interview, he talks about how immersing himself in a show that depicted the rape and degradation of women week after week nearly destroyed him.
A question we might consider asking is what effect does watching the rape and degradation of women week after week have on us as viewers? Does it somehow impel us toward justice? Or does it dull our sense of outrage for violence against women? Does Criminal Minds–or any other–build our worldview of truth and carry us forward in a positive direction, or pull us into the horror and make us a voyeur to evil?
Questions, I believe, worth asking.