All Men Are Bastards
11 Oct 2009
The subtext of the BBC mini serial Criminal Justice, is that All Men Are Bastards.
We were cynically tantalised on Monday by the BBC promise of a sex-murder-crime-thriller with a big budget, comprising five one hour parts Monday to Friday.
We learnt that a wife thrust a knife horribly into the Barrister husband in the marital bed but we were not told why. The remaining four and a half hours were about the why, and about the whether we could possible excuse the murder of a man, by his wife, who had confessed by the end of part one.
This was must-see TV for the Monks. We were up for it.
The film would challenge the Monks to excuse the brutal killing, by slowly revealing the abuses the woman suffered that would mitigate her crime. Also disclosed was the corruption of the criminal justice system that meant she was not treated fairly. Since this was a battle of the sexes, the filmmakers contrived to illustrate the corruption by a succession of flawed unsympathetic characters, all of whom were men, because All Men Are Bastards.
The shortcomings of the men that participated in her downfall, were slowly revealed: the husband, the lover, the bully prosecutor, the barrister's clerk, the investigating police officer, his superintendent, the prison officer, the judge; all men, all bastards.
But this was a legal battle and our lady anti-hero-victim was not without support in fighting her case energetically. She was provided with comfort and empathy, by her solicitor, her barrister, social workers, and her cell mates; all were women, and all were nurturing sympathy. And for good measure, even the wives of the flawed lover and the corrupt policeman, were disapproving of their bastard men.
The premise of the movie is that Criminal Justice is corrupt and that Bastard Men, will act with prejudice and malice, and contrive the verdict they desire by lying and abusing accused women. This is the kind of crud prejudiced lazy predictable characterisation that actually demeans the serious issues raised by the movie; abuse of power, murder, corruption, rape, and child abuse, should not be treated like a two dimensional cowboys and injuns movie.
The writer, Peter Mofat, a man, intends to expose prejudice, but he has carelessly failed to recognise his own.
The BBC recognised the seriousness of the movie, with solemn "health and safety" messages at the end of each episode, offering support to anyone affected by the issues raised by the programmes, and the BBC may well have traumatised viewers that may now think that all men are bastards.
On a positive note, I would report flawless performances from the cast and the failure to bore the Monks in spite of the length.
If only Peter Mofat, had watched a few episodes of Judge Judy.