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What would you do? How far would you go? Would you resort to kidnapping, rape and murder to get what you want? That is exactly what “Law & Order: SVU” asked fans on February 9, 2011. The episode entitled “Spectacle” left fans, wondering how they would cope in an unbearable situation, and if they would step up to help a stranger in need.
It is often called Bystander Syndrome or Genovese Syndrome. It is the inaction of a person during a crime, and unfortunately can be seen in video clips around the world. It happens when witnesses to a crime decide that someone else should help, get involved, and protect the one in danger. Ultimately the entire group of witnesses watches a crime and no one steps forward to prevent it. While it really is shameful, it is completely common, “inaction breeds inaction,” according to an article written by Charles Bouley of the Huffington Post.
The “Law & Order: SVU” episode “Spectacle” centered on a viral rape committed on a university campus. The live action crime was seen by a myriad of students, but not reported until after the video stream was over. The crime undoubtedly left the television audience uncomfortable, but did anyone consider what they would do if faced with a similar situation? It is uncertain, but as always “Law & Order: SVU” gave the audience something to think about, and hopefully react upon if they are ever a witness to an atrocity.
It turned out that the viral crime committed in “Spectacle” was a hoax perpetrated by a young man, Greg, who needed the help of New York’s finest, the SVU unit. His brother, Jason, had been kidnapped several years prior, and like the case of the viral rape, he and his brother were victims of Bystander Syndrome.
For a moment imagine two children walking down a crowded street. One is around 12 and the other is about three. A person comes up behind the older child and pushes him down, only to grab the younger and place him in a vehicle. Greg describes this scene as he confronts Detective Stabler about his brother’s cold case. His brother had been kidnapped in broad daylight in the presence of several adults, and no one helped.
This horrible crime acts as the catalyst for Greg’s viral hoax, and while his hoax wastes the NYPD’s precious man-hours, as well as grieves students, and a young girl’s mother in the process, his hoax does get the attention he wants. Detective Stabler leads the investigation searching for Greg’s brother. After pouring over old case files, he determines to start the investigation fresh. Ultimately, Eliot is responsible for recovering Jason from his female kidnapper. The only question that remains is, were Greg’s crimes worth his brother’s recovery?
“Law & Order: SVU” airs on Wednesdays at 10 pm ET.