|A Punisher TV Show? Will it be like The First 48?
The popularity of Showtime’s Dexter, a drama about Dexter Morgan (played brilliantly by Michael C. Hall), by day a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police and by night, a sociopathic vigilante killer, has forced CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox to scramble to replicate this disturbing hit by introducing similarly themed programs to their networks.
Where once television was littered with cheap reality and game shows, the major networks are seeing the big numbers that thriller/dramas on Showtime, HBO, and AMC (which airs The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad) are pulling in and beginning to copy this formula.
The highest rated shows are on CBS, with programs and series detailing police and crime scene investigators (CSI, CSI: Miami, NCSI, CSI: LA, etc.) regularly providing the highest Nielsen ratings.
At the box office, the movies that consistently bring about the biggest returns are comic book movies (Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and The Dark Knight have all been huge winners for Hollywood recently).
Merging the desire to see vigilante justice and criminal investigations on television, with a mix of superhero panache, Fox has picked up a pilot commitment that will detail the saga of perhaps the most right-wing character in the history of comics, The Punisher
FOX recently picked up The Punisher with a pilot commitment from former Criminal Minds showrunner Ed Bernero. The series is seen as an hour-long procedural with – wait for it…a new take on the character! That’s right, arguably the most cut-and-dry character in Marvel’s pantheon of heroes is yet again the recipient of what could be a make over that misses the mark.
This time around, as opposed to being a decorated Vietnam veteran with a serious mad-on for criminal types, The Punisher sees Frank Castle as a detective with the New York City Police Department who takes to the streets in his off time, in search of justice as the vigilante known as The Punisher.
Marvel Comics resident gun-toting vigilante (created when Deathwish and Dirty Harry popularity were at their zenith) has been the subject of three big screen adaptations (a 1989 version with Dolph Lundgren; a 2004 attempt at creating a franchise with Thomas Jane; and a 2008 version with Ray Stevenson that should have been straight to DVD) that have never found the right chord with an audience. Yet the desire to see Frank Castle wage war on the criminal underground has never abated, despite three failed attempts.
There’s just something about a white guy rectifying the wrongs of society (and those who the legal system fails to punish) that resonates with the general public. See The Boondock Saints for more on this concept.
Perhaps television is the perfect medium to tell the story Castle, whose iconic “Skull” shirt/logo has inspired real-life Special Forces soldiers from Norway
, and his never-ending war on crime. The popularity of Dexter
presupposes that a properly scripted vigilante story can garner a huge audience; removing the restrictions of a 90-minute movie to tell a Punisher
story will give the audience time to understand Castle’s motivations and build-up story-lines and antagonists that viewers will enjoy seeing him dispatch.
But there exists a problem in setting the television show in New York City; the people committing the overwhelmingly majority of murders, rapes, property offenses, muggings, and assaults in the city aren’t the same ones routinely shown as the perpetual “great white defendant” in Law and Order.
The Washington Post’s
Jonathan Capehart stumbled upon this unpleasant truth, this distressing reporting (from an analysis of crime statistics):
“In short, 95.1 percent of all murder victims and 95.9 percent of all shooting victims in New York City are black or Hispanic. And 90.2 percent of those arrested for murder and 96.7 percent of those arrested for shooting someone are black and Hispanic. I don’t even know where to begin to describe the horror I still feel looking at those numbers. But the word ‘hunted’ comes to mind.”
|Based on real NYC crime stats, this is who The Punisher would actually punish
Black and Hispanic people have a near exclusivity on crime in New York City, but you can bet the farm that The Punisher show on Fox will show Frank Castle battling your stereotypical multi-racial criminal gangs found only on television or film (like in the NYC gang movie The Warriors). Though statistics show that less than 10 percent of gang members in America are white – and this includes the FBI classifying the pathetic Insane Clown Posse “Juggalos” as a gang – Castle will probably mow through plenty of imaginary Caucasian bad guys on the show.
One wonders if Frank Castle will be privy to the 2010 NYPD’s NYPD’s enforcement report
, “Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City,” which showed that:
- blacks made up a staggering 60.9% of murder suspects (not arrests), 52.6% of rape suspects, 52.4% of other felony sex crime suspects, 70.8% of robbery (mugging) suspects and 54.9% of felonious assault suspects;
- Hispanics made up 30.7% of murder suspects, 33.8% of rape suspects, 31.2% of other felony sex crime suspects, 23.3% of robbery suspects and 32.5% of felonious assault suspects; and
- whites made up 4.9% of murder suspects, 8.9% of rape suspects, 12.7% of other felony sex crime suspects, 4.6% of robbery suspects and 8.2% of felonious assault suspects.
How will that hedge-fund in Montgomery react if The Punisher
television show actually reflects real criminal patterns in New York City? Well, the precedent for distorting the truth of crime in America has already been set by the Fox Network, with the creator of the popular COPS show admitting he tried to paint a rosy picture of the Black and Hispanic communities in America by deliberately showing a disproportionate amount of white criminals
John Langley, the creator of the long-running FOX program, COPS. Langley says he’s irked by some media critics who accuse the show of perpetuating stereotypes about “people of color” by depicting a disproportionate percentage of minority suspects. Au Contraire, Langley protests, he intentionally shows an inordinate number of white suspects in order to side-step the facts. “I show more white people than, statistically, what the truth is.”
Even Showtime’s Dexter – set in Miami, where crime is also monopolized by Black and Hispanics – has primarily shown the eponymous hero target only white bad guys. Perhaps The Punisher is doomed from the start; if it goes the reality route, that hedge-fund in Montgomery with the healthiest balance sheet in Americ, The Color of Change, La Raza and the NAACP will immediately attack the show as racist, though it only reflects actual crime rates in the city.
If it goes the comic book route, it will more than likely fail for the same reason NBC’s abomination called The Cape did: over-the-top cartoonish white villains that are best kept on the big screen.
This much is known: Frank Castle is a white guy; statistics show that it is primarily Black and Hispanic people that make New York City unsafe. Actually, it’s Black (and Hispanic) people that make any city in
America unsafe to live in.
Remember: The FBI’s 2010 Uniform Crime Reports showed that 53.1 percent of known murderers in 2010 were Black people (44 percent were white, but the FBI lumps in those of Hispanic/Mexican descent into this pale category). Think about that for a second: already, more than 1 million Black males are in prison; Black people are only 13 percent of the overall US population, with a significant portion under the age of 12. Thus, the bulk of the violent crime in America is committed by (and this is an estimate) roughly 2-3 percent of the US population.
Then again, watching The First 48 on A&E offers a glimpse of the kind of disreputable characters that a Detective Castle would go after at night.
But The First 48 isn’t a scripted show. It’s real life. And, as we know, truth has a well-known racial bias. So you can bet The Punisher TV show will be littered with Black Fictional Images.