Nerding Day: Law & Order SVU’s Gamergate Episode 🌭

In nerd camp, they said “the medium is the message.” That’s from Marshall McLuhan, founder of a chain store. Or media theory, I wasn’t sleeping much. And I didn’t truly get this quote until the Gamergate episode of Law and Order: SVU.

This couldn’t be a play, mocked in a movie. Or a comic, mocked in a more self-conscious comic. It had to be primetime TV, and I had to mock it here. Thanks for making it possible. You’ve made a huge mistake.

Three of you might not know about SVU. Impressive, since it’s our largest export behind corn and planet death. Staying pure takes work, and I hope that your mountain training in pre-Gracie martial arts is going well. Be careful leaving the village to fetch water: it’ll definitely be on fire when you get back. Consider your master dead already.

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is a police procedural, in the same sense Waco’s a sunny town in Texas. True, but you’re dancing around a few content tags. The team specifically deals with sex crimes/child crimes/cartoon terrorism, in the hell version of New York exclusive to excellent action, decent noir, and bad reporting.

It’s an elevated reality. You can visit it by buying thousand dollar headphones, streaming a police scanner, and then blitzing inhalants like you’re debating Hillary in an hour and have no idea why everyone’s letting it happen. Or by watching SVU.

It makes for traumatizing viewing/web comedy, so look out for that. I don’t just mean your past. SVU can inject phobias from headlines, past lives, and pure imagination. My second-favorite episode took on a hot button issue: teen deathmatch wrestlers pushed to kill by love triangles with women pretending to be 14 (after skipping around the foster care system for twenty years, keep up), via murder-techniques from AP Bio. But we’re not here for silver.

The first thing to know about SVU? It’s 24 seasons long. We’ve lost all plausible deniability. Any of us could have stopped it by now, with half the effort it took to pin Jim Crow on Awkwafina. It’s not NBC’s show, it’s our show. The royalties offset your taxes. I’m playing Panicked Witness #3 this week, and they expect your next script by Thursday.

I’d say it’s gone mad over time. But season one has a Wall Street extra murdered in a bondage dungeon. As grounded, low-stakes filler after a flight attendant murders a judge laundering money for the governor. That’s not the premise. He kept her husband in prison in exchange for sex, which isn’t the premise. He had the same deal with dozens of women around the state.


Let other John Mulaney impersonators deny it: I embrace my sins. I watched endless afterschool hours of Copaganda: Dead Escort Edition. The Dayles preferred TNT to talking. And I’m pretty sure we had a Nielsen box, or Nick Cannon would be unemployed, Wendy Williams would be panhandling, and Tyler Perry would be a cartoon skeleton with a tin cup.

The second key fact: it’s merged with the cast. Ice-T is, to millions worldwide, an actor dabbling in music. More Americans mourned Detective Munch than national prosperity. Cameos by the former male lead are holidays in homes that still pay for cable. Finally, in an industry without loyalty or memory, Mariska Hargitay has built a fortress outside of time. She has more control of the show than the network. Think CM Punk, without the disorder.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the funniest writing about SVU. That’s this collection of fake SVU summaries, which I’ll covet like Salieri until I die cursing God. I hope you brought a closing style parody, because I’m unarmed.

We’re in the show’s youth: season 16. Before stock plans for cast retirement, death, and career growth. It’s about Gamergate, which gets easier to summarize each year. Watch: Bud Light backlash, but for any women existing. Bang. By 2030, I’ll have it down to a vowel.

Three scenes in “Intimidation Game” matter. The first opens with some ass-covering:

Are you friends with a lawyer? Are they the late type? Write this on a napkin, and you’ll summon them like a familiar. It’s the easiest surprise party or divorce paper handoff you’ll ever plan. Just avoid glass doors, they run headfirst.

The legal teflon fades to a convention. I should say gaming convention, since events exist for cars, careers, and keeping cancer treatments expensive. That’s alien to me. Cons are costume contests and costume contest harassment. Gamer Detective Ice-T’s there with his full set of non-gamer coworkers, which is almost weird enough to miss Gamer Detective Ice-T. The dialogue heals my dead heart.

I love that this still happens. It has to be either pandering or tradition; more NBC writers play Lootbox Master than finish film school. We laugh with stilted gaming dialogue, and seek death when shows namecheck XCom.

Well, that’s my theory for the writers. Outside-going actors might have different rules. Take this detective:

She is in hell. But it’s not necessarily the con: she might have a Black Flag tattoo.

On that note, a developer has the misfortune to be the first civilian on camera. Making her a victim, corpse, or terrible extra. I’d say she’s our Zoe Quinn (Gamergate’s Franz Ferdinand) stand-in, but they had a disclaimer. This is an original character. She fell from Dick Wolf’s forehead, fully formed. And now meets this charmer:

One tension drives “Intimidation Game.” Can SVU out-stupid reality? Because this line is idiotic and perfectly accurate. Not-Zoe parries with old virgin jokes, which also scans. Flamewars reteach War Games’s main lesson, forever.

Next is an SVU specialty: artless juxtaposition. Each episode has to work in a pitch-black felony while staying on cable. Today, while Ice-T geeks out over a Tribes recolor, the typecast incel above strikes. The game commentary sounds like this:

I had to read that twice, which feels like karma. The plot sort of revolves around Kill or Be Slaughtered, a doomed Unreal Tournament parody. It mostly gives us something to cut to during assault. Sixteen seasons of discretion shots wear an editor down.

Now, this bit isn’t my point. But since SVU has four minutes for VR jokes, I have one for story wank. In real life, no one knows what’s going on next door. I know that, you know that. But in pulp action–any detective that quips counts–your heroes look like failures. Our entire cast hoots at MineWatch: Reach while the only crime they fight unfolds. It’s like watching Batman text through clown murders.

Bad look. Solid political cartoon.

Eventually, a detective gets around to checking out the crime scene. Fake E3 is compelling, but the plot cart can’t push itself. When she asks the victim what happened, we get the most response in tv history. You pick the adjective.

“They leveled up.” Breathe that in. Swish it around. Pretend to understand hookah, and impress your friends. Then tell me how this aired.

Here’s how I learned about brick jokes. At twenty, I thought that pun was this scene’s low point. At twenty-five, I thought it was trivializing sex crimes. At thirty, the final stage of wisdom, I know it’s the full cast still watching Quake demos. The villains try to represent gaming’s worst, but our heroes nail wasting your life on Twitch.

Half of the investigation is sane-ish. Jock detectives get confused by gaming slang, and Ice-T defines it. No matter how many times the script says Detective Fin Tutuola, your brain says “Hey, Ice-T.” In this episode, he cosplays Navi. It’s magic.

He explains Not-GamerGate as “In their world, a developer’s like God, and some guys aren’t ready to give a girl that kind of power.” Infinitely cooler than “Billy hasn’t gotten laid since Mass Effect 2.”

Ice-T still has zero range after sixteen seasons, so his loading screen tips sound a lot like his sex crime reactions. He either suffers gaming, or gets too much out of work. Either way, he’s the only one that can navigate the dark forest of frog memes. A trail leading all the way to the basement.

Our villains met online, because of course. Ice-T explains “RedChanIt” to the squares, which sounds like a name I’d mock. Nope. I’m very down with sabotaging Reddit’s IPO by stapling it to 8chan. Watching Spez reach for nothing and fail is art. Only this episode’s peak can compete.

Namely, the second scene that matters. Walk with me. I like loose metaphors, so I need you to know this is very literal. No curveballs.

Incels threaten Not-Zoe’s boss, Not-Anita.

Not-Anita holds a defiant press conference.

Not-Anita gets kidnapped by incel commandos.

Said incels evade our present, armed, and forewarned heroes.

The incels hijack a Times Square billboard.

Revealing Incel Bane.

That’s unedited.

I lied. The villains aren’t 4chan lurkers: they’re Batman villains. “Intimidation Game” is off the rails by SVU standards, which existed until now.

One word taps how fucking stupid this is. I try to avoid it, because it hurts people. It’s from a very specific era, and targets a specific lifestyle. And they’ve suffered more than enough. But I have to.

This is sublime.

This is stupidity bigger than me. Bigger than my imagination. It’s a cannonball into the Grand Canyon. It’s daggering on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s stealing fire from Zeus to light a fart. And it relies on such narrow experience. No one above sixty or below ten on Sep 5, 2023 will truly understand. We are the last keepers of this moment.

Yet it’s real.

New York, like all zip codes, has crime. Organized crime, sex crime, muggings, campaign finance graft, short sells, the Hudson Yards honeycomb, more campaign finance graft, the works. I heard there was even a terror attack. This is still a cartoon. When SVU says “ripped from the headlines,” they mean Detective Comics.

I hope MLG reactionaries stick to spree killing. If they organized, we’d invade every OPEC member with a Playstation. Browsing Twitch would put you on a list the NSA actually checks, instead of the rusty file cabinet with aliens and future mass shooters. Valve headquarters would set off Geiger counters for miles. Gamers would learn, for the first time, what it’s like to be oppressed.

There’s more.

The unit tracks Incel Bane to his headquarters. I think it’s below Arkham, but he might have a Phantom Zone co-op. Either way, they corner the League of Assassins on a rooftop. One noble soul turns from the darkness, fifty minutes, two sex crimes, and one terrorist attack in. There’s hope for everyone.

Neither do I, man.

Our look at game culture ends the only way it could: an FPS sequence.

If you’ve seen Doom, you know this is a mistake. If you can spell tone or sexual assault, you know this is a mistake. That knowledge is an anchor. All knowledge is an anchor. You could make Law and Order: Special Victims Unit instead. Your brain’s burning generational wealth.

Ice-T comes to the rescue, thanks to a solid diamond contract. They keep the FPS gimmick going, hoping to suffocate critics with laughter. It’s an excellent plan. I’m writing this from the ER.

That’s not my line. Ice T says it after shooting the world’s eighth angriest NEET. The music says tragedy. The dialogue, fan wiki, and sex dungeon rescue directly preceding this say tragedy. My eyes say Team Deathmatch, and the nurse says “breathe.”

“Can SVU outstupid reality?” Please. SVU’s writers could out-stupid grass. They could out-stupid the entire primary, on or offstage. They could out-stupid themselves on an all-lead diet. They are the Gods of vacuity. Right now, their script coordinator’s opening a jar with his teeth.

That’s why we’re short on cop jokes today. This episode’s too dumb for them. SVU aspires to copaganda, but you have to read books to misquote them. The “Intimidation Game” writers are still working on Green Eggs and Ham. I’ll be sad when they finish it.

If you’re interested in learning more about post-thought, feel free to audit my fall course:

Game on, friends.

This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: FancyShark, who’s into Beached Sharkplay. That’s when you and your partner take turns biting each other and wiggling on a wet mat.

4 replies on “Nerding Day: Law & Order SVU’s Gamergate Episode 🌭”

Because one of my compulsions is adding an epilogue to every article on this site with comedy-less Canadian cultural information, here is the Canadian Heritage Minute on Marshall McLuhan:

He says the thing!

Also, it is wild that Dayle put out the CM Punk/Mariska Hargitay comparison jusssssst too late to beat Punk’s dismissal with cause.

I read Especially Heinous: 272 Views of Law & Order SVU and now I’m just staring up at the night sky

I was so absolutely stoked for this article I split it over the course of three days, a work of true hilarity. That line “Mariska Hargitay has built a fortress outside of time.” Just killed me.

I’m glad to see the stupidest nonsense get such a well-deserved skewering, I eagerly await more Dennard Dayle awesomeness

> The villains aren’t 4chan lurkers: they’re Batman villains.

Oh shit, *that’s* where I recognize the title from.

Batman: Intimidation Game was the working title of Batman Begins.

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