Thanks to our friends over at The House Next Door for calling our attention to Luke Dittrich's detailed Esquire piece on the death of Murphy, Texas prosecutor Bill Conradt at the hands (and cameras) of NBC's To Catch a Predator. In it, Dittrich describes one member of the Perverted Justice team who hunts down and lures would-be child predators as “a middle-aged man who lives in Milford, Michigan, and spends upwards of forty hours a week sitting at a computer pretending to be a sexually available boy.” Creepy. What kind of latent perversion lies within these wannabe sleuths, and how long will it be before Predator goes totally meta and nabs one of its own? The vigilante group's founder (who uses a fake name and, according to a recent New York Times article, eats only ramen noodles, never makes his bed, and hates men), told Esquire that “his only regret is that Bill Conradt died before he could face justice.” Perverted justice, indeed.
Last summer I reviewed the Dateline series and the heaps of hate-mail I expected to receive never materialized. Maybe I wasn't alone in thinking the show is the most irresponsible, exploitive, and reprehensible program on television, or perhaps people just don't read our TV section. I would prefer the former explanation but I suspect the latter, so if you'd like to read my review, you can do so here.
This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.