Sunday, October 15, 2006

I like this, but should I?

I recently got sick (and unfortunately infected a friend or two) and missed a few days of school. While watching the toob, I saw an ad for a new show on Showtime called Dexter. Showtime has made the first two episodes available online. I am really excited about the networks publishing their content online (I've recently watched episodes of Studio 60, Heroes, Numb3rs, The Unit, Jericho, and 30 Rock online. I love that I can miss a show and still not miss it!) so I decided to watch Dexter during my recuperation.

First, a confession. I like dark subject matter. I enjoy dark thrillers if they are intelligently written. I grew up on horror movies, cut my teeth reading early Stephen King and thought that all was right with the world when horror made a comeback in the early 80's. So in many ways, a show like Dexter is right up my alley. You see, Dexter is a serial killer, with a twist:

****Spoiler warning****
Dexter is the good guy. He's a cop who only allows himself to indulge his murderous urges on other killers who have escaped justice. He was trained by his police officer father to cover his tracks and recognize those that deserve to die.
*****End Spoilers******

I know that on some levels, this is social commentary:
The police, the judicial system, and by extension, we the people are occasionally given the duty of deciding life or death for criminals. It is not always done with justice, so could an individual, unencumbered by the rules we impose on a civil society, do a better job?
Should any policeman ever be given the right/ability to take a human life? Can any of them truly be trusted?

I remember a fascinating short story I read about a vampire hunter who was able to do what no one else could do because, like the vamps, he liked killing and was not squeamish about the disgusting nature of his work. Dexter is a character in the same vein.

Like I said, I know that the creators would probably say that this is social commentary and that they perform a public service by causing us to think about these sorts of things. But the truth is that they have created a pleasant character, placed him in a beautiful setting (Miami) and made him a hero because of, not in spite of, the terrible things he does.

I know that Dexter will have many fans. The show is well made. It is likeable (to me). And by watching this likeable show, I would subject myself to weekly mutilations and murders. Carried out by the hero. I don't know how you feel about the idea of televisiona and movies desensitizing society, but I think Dexter is a near perfect vehicle for carrying it out.

Fortunately, Dexter is carried on Showtime, which I don't have, so I won't be watching.

Unfortunately, part of me wishes I could.

Life in a Northern Town

Recently the Bride who wore Black and I visited some old friends from Texas who now live in Maryland. The Saturday night that we arrived there was a street party in downtown Frederick. I live in Winston-Salem, NC and the city has been trying to generate an active downtown life for the city, but we just don't hold a candle to Frederick, and I'm not sure why.

My first thought is the age of the city. Frederick is about 100 years older than the Winston part of W-S, which seems to be the dominant part of W-S. Frederick is built closer together, with retail, restaurant and residential mixed together, often in the same building. Maybe southern cities had more land and spread out more. But the eclectic mix we saw in Frederick was something that I can't see being generated by city mandate. It just grew that way. I liked it quite a bit.