To Catch a Jackass

For unexplained reasons, I have become completely smitten with Dateline: To Catch a Predator. Last weekend there was a marathon of sorts of the show and I sat on couches for the better part of two days, watching episode after episode of To Catch a Predator Raw!, which is kind of like a “The Making of To Catch a Predator.” It’s 80 degrees and sunny in Florida, it’s spring break, and I sat glued to the TV screen, which was filled with nervous, sweaty perverts getting busted.

In TCAP Raw, they show recaps of old stings and then they’ll cut to Chris Hansen, sitting in the studio, and he’ll comment on what it was like to confront these guys and reflect on some behind-the-scenes, little-known facts about what happened before and after the cameras were rolling.

One word: Loveit!

It’s odd that I love it. I don’t like shows that have people who aren’t professional actors, I hate real life cop shows, and I normally don’t like when people get caught doing things they’re trying to get away with. Even if they’re the dregs of society and they deserve to get caught and the world will be virtually saved by their getting caught. I have one bone in my body that gives me a little twitch when a bad guy is busted. Maybe because I root for the underdog? I don’t know, but I just do.

So it’s weird that the pedophiles and Internet sex stalkers that sit at the kitchen counter with Chris Hansen on Dateline should be any different. But they are. I would love to have Chris Hansen’s job. Except I might go all angry housewife on the ass of some 48-year-old, cross-eyed, big-eared, pot-bellied, greasy-haired creeper (screen name: hot_abercrombie_model) and I’d end up getting sued and losing my job.

It’s also possible that I could slip into one of my famous uncontrollable laughing spurts before we got to the part where I told the perps I was from Dateline. That, too, would be a deal breaker.

I think it’s laugh-out-loud funny that these guys turn into little baby sheep when Chris Hansen walks out from behind the wall. Not one single sex predator makes the snap decision to just head butt the guy in the suit and run for the door. For god’s sake, they’ve got tattoos, police records and pick-up trucks. Chris Hansen has a concave chest and is wearing hair spray. Even the ones who don’t recognize him from Dateline have to imagine that at the very least it’s the girl’s dad. No matter how you look at it, it does not make an ounce of sense to sit down at that counter. Yet they sit as instructed, they take their hands out of their pockets (sometimes condoms and beers spill out in the process), and sit there all wide-eyed. They often will feign indifference and boredom with the whole scene by munching on the snacks that are on the counter. Chris is nice enough to provide cookies and chips to these guys, just before they’re arrested.

“I knew I shouldn’t have come here.” “I was just here to talk.” “I was just having a conversation on the Internet; there’s nothing wrong with just having a conversation is there?” “It was stupid, I know, really stupid.” “Wahh, Waaaaah wah wah waaaaaah!” “Can I have a cookie?”

I'm on the floor now, laughing as if we’re watching the long lost South Park episodes.

Stupid, over-sexed, middle-aged men are so freaking funny.

At some point I expected Chris Hansen to look directly into the camera and say what I say every time I watch this show. “How [bleeping] stupid can you be? How many seasons have we been on the air? Don’t you guys ever watch TV? When are we going to eventually run out of asslike guys who keep showing up at this mansion out in the middle of Ohio to see a 13-year-old girl?”

For those of you who have never seen the show, I’ll tell you that the guys who show up on this show are all vying for the crown of king of the Freaker’s Ball. Some of these guys arrive with their toddlers, saying their wives had to work and, hey, you gotta carry on. Some guys immediately take off all their clothes and are stark naked when Chris Hansen rounds the corner. Some are midgets. One guy had a turban and bin Laden beard. Most of them are fat and greasy. But some are actors, professionals, and good-looking college kids in American Eagle t-shirts. They’re quite a variety pack.

But they all have one thing in common. When Chris Hansen walks around the corner, they become the best thing on my TV and a reason to stay inside today.

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