2005-01-16

FSU Law needs better Hollywood PR

Hey, Florida State University College of Law. It's time you and the boys had a word with a few Hollywood film directors.

Have you seen the way they portray your graduates in movies? I've seen two, and neither provides a good role model for our impressionable, innocent young law students.

First there's McNair, the public defender played by Ned Beatty in Just Cause. He's a paunchy, wise-cracking, football-obsessed good old boy. Well, okay... we know the style enjoys some precedent in Tallahassee. But still. McNair is dodgy and acts intimidated when he meets a cerebral out-of-state law professor. But come on. As a Florida State student he surely met some professors. Some professors even came from out of state. Some professors even had cerebrums. So why the intimidation? Well, OK, I get that it's Sean Connery. Who knows what kind of laser device a former 007 might have hidden in his lapel pin? But still.

Anyway, here's McNair, defending an innocent person's life in a death-penalty case, and all he can do is stand in his office chattering about how Florida State beat Miami in the Cotton Bowl. It's a ridiculous, unwatchable scene. Everyone knows the Seminoles have never played Miami in the Cotton Bowl.

Then there's Ned Racine, the lawyer played by William Hurt in Body Heat. His whole approach is--how shall we say this?--ethically flawed. He get outmaneuvered, he gets bamboozled, and he probably shoplifts his wingtips. We don't need that.

Racine still wins hands down as a role model over McNair. He at least knows how to decorate an office (film noir rather than Bill's Bookstore). And doesn't talk in a bad Southern accent. And you have to like his idea of a contact sport. No pigskin, just Kathleen Turner.

Please tell Hollywood to put a stop to this. Our young law students deserve worthier role models, ethical exemplars, such as any one of the many real-life lawyers in the world who... who... hmm.

You know what? Never mind.

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