Based on the opinion of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), ABC's "The Norm Show" should be called "Dirty Social Work" in honor of Norm Macdonald's poorly received 1998 film "Dirty Work."
In Macdonald's sitcom, which premiered Wednesday night, "Norm" is a tax-evading hockey player sentenced to do community service. But instead of teaching the kids down at the Boys and Girls Club how to high stick for profit, the judge-guidance counselor signs Norm up to become a social worker.
"We know it's a television show," says Josephine
Nieves, executive director of NASW's national office. "But,
for starters, Norm's character is practicing social work without
a license. Would anyone buy the
premise of a show in which a hockey player was sentenced to do community service as, say, a surgeon?"
Nieves and her organization have deemed the NASW as a "Norm Free Zone" -- a misnomer, as their Web site features a picture of Norm, as well as a list of ways in which the his character violates the Social Workers Code of Ethics. These indictments include:
* Misrepresentation: Norm has no professional credentials and
yet calls himself a "social worker."
* Unprofessional/unethical conduct: Social workers do not bribe their clients.
* Violation of a confidentiality agreement: Norm's friends shouldn't know who his clients are.
* Use of derogatory language: Social workers should not treat clients in a disrespectful or demeaning manner.
"We've already heard from Norm's fans that we need to get a sense of humor. Social workers have a great sense of humor - we have to," Nieves says. "But when it comes to our Code of Ethics, standards of practice, and protecting our clients, we get serious."
Being self-proclaimed "people people," the NASW has suggested ways in which ABC and Norm can gain forgiveness. These actions include airing news segments about real-life social workers on ABC affiliates, sending Norm Macdonald on a field trip to spend some time with a real social worker, or including NASW members in the "live studio audience" to give producers feedback.
"Norm," which co-stars Laurie Metcalf, rated highest with the targeted 18-to-49-year-old audience, compared to other Wednesday night offerings.
Offending people seems to be second nature for former "Saturday Night Live" newsman Macdonald, who last year managed to tick off everyone from alumni of an Eastern college to NBC execs (now Macdonald's exes).
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