Friday, November 14, 2008

Dexter, Dexter, Dexter

Well, on HBO's Dexter -- Dexter is a serial killer who has managed to hold himself to killing only bad folks-- Dexter killed a Catholic woman who was dying and who needed euthanasia.

So then...
Oh brother, they are really fooling around with moral issues, uh? Slippery slope city. Remember the third aliens. All these issues pop up and one sees the need for moral relativity. Like when Ripley gets pregnant with the alien and has to abort herself. I'm wondering about the moral issue in the Dexter stories. First, can/should a serial killer kill other serial killers if that serial killer only kills bad folks and folks in need of death? Who knows?

Next, Catholic woman has been failed by her faith and finds a way out of the crisis put on her by her faith by getting someone else to kill her. No thought of maybe a miracle healing her because God is dead or at least seriously missing and the woman is following her religion's doctrine but it has betrayed her. Who knows? Very scary. Stuff for greater minds than mine to figure out. But it seems to be very well done. I've seen stories by moral folks which are so crappy that the moral or doctrine comes off preachy and doesn't exactly challenge the slippery slopes. Is there a stalwart type with black and white morality in Dexter? And -- probably, because it's hollywood-- I bet he's an asshole. Isn't it interesting when you find yourself totally disliking everything a character believes in but still liking a show or a character? It's such a moral quandary. Moral quandaries are good, I suspect because it shows that we are empathetic character and at the same time we want some standard of behavior. What to do?

The lady asked Dexter to kill her, out of desperation – she was in constant pain, and had been told by the doctors that her tumor had slowed its growth, so she was actually doomed to live and suffer even longer. And after asking him she regretted it, and apologized to Dexter. The regret and apology is all part of what's expected alas. She has asked and that is what matters. I always like seeing how these things are handled. We the audience think "pain is a terrible thing and yes, let's free her from her sorrows." Very difficult morally to disagree with empathizing with another person's pain.

The closest the series came to a stalwart type with black and white morality would be an FBI guy from last season but then there was the hanky-panky with someone under his command.

So no black and white types. I wonder if that's a good thing. I like varying shades of gray but I also like total black/immoral and total white/moral. The nearest thing we have to total black, it seems, are the baddies Dexter kills. Moral folks on TV tend to be really smarmy, though. Or innocently naive. Or idealistic and young. Or hypocritical. Or assholes. The trouble is that in real life the types who consider themselves moral are usually not so moral. Everytime I hear a right wing politician defend his views on abortion by saying they value the sanctity of life, I tell myself I would believe them if they weren't so keen on the death penalty and if they weren't so greedy or so imperialistic. Hey, I'm a pro-lifer but I'm pro-life all the way. And I don't go around pretending to be so holy and pious.


Anonymous said...

I've never heard of Dexter, but he seems like someone I would be very afraid of, because he's killing off people who are morally wrong, but what about him? Is he going to kill himself for killing when "Thou Shall not Kill?" On the positive side(I guess its positive), he could off some these ganbangers around here since they're killing each other anyway.

Great post!

Dawn Fortune said...

We disagree on abortion, but I agree with you on the death penalty. I am concerned any time a government decides that some member of its population ought to be killed. That scares me a lot. How long before someone says I ought to be removed from society?

I do not watch much television - mostly just football at this time of the year, and some non-fiction stuff on the History Channel and all of those Discovery Channels. So much of what is on television feels like porridge for the brain. There is no substance, nothing to grasp hold of and chew, and very little to learn. Dexter sounds interesting, though. Oh, we don't get HBO. That's the next package up. That's why I haven't seen it. Oh well.

Carole McDonnell said...

Hi Dawn and Erica: I was really thinking more about the power of art to subtly work on folks' minds and change us all morally.

Dawn, there was a time when folks thought we should be killed. Back in slavery days. Because we had no voice. Same thing with abortion. . . which is nothing more than carefully orchestrated black genocide. Research that.


Anonymous said...

Oh, ok, I see what you mean Carole...deep.

Carole McDonnell said...

Hi Erica:

It's just that so many Christian works of art aren't as subtly done as the work of the enemy -- for lack of a better word. Either Christian fiction preaches to the choir or is heavy-handed or lacks heart. I mean, here I am a Christian and I leave certain shows like Dexter saying, "yes, he should euthanize her." But how to say -- without sounding really stupid-- "But woman, God will heal you! Just have faith!"

Hard to say in a world without faith, and hard to say when even christians have no faith. Hard to say when to live and get a miracle requires so much spiritual work that the average christian is not aware of or thinks is "excessive" or thinks is probably not going to do anything anyway.

Christian art and christian truth is based on revelation and it sounds dang preachy, cold, judgmental and unrealistic in many christian books and films. What to do? -C

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