RANGER AGAINST WAR: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly <

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

That's some cold shit, throwing my man Leroy
out the window. Just picked my man up

and threw him out the Goddamn window


But being as this is a .44 Magnum,
the most powerful handgun in the world,

and would blow your head clean off,

you've got to ask yourself a question:

"Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

--Dirty Harry (1971)

Dirty Harry is no longer anti-hero.

This is a continuation of the recent critique on the t.v. show Dexter, about the eponymous homicidal police department technician who plies his dark trade in the service of all of mankind.

The episode which aired 4/13/07 confirmed Ranger's thesis on the seriously morally bankrupt place the writers are taking the series. It is a place in which legal meister John Yoo and Co. would be comfortable.

In this installment, a bad ass homicide cop is introduced, played by a hard black dude who also happens to be a Special Forces, Black Ops-type. It is strange to envision a SF type crossing over into this sort of police work which is usually the purview of MP's once released from active duty, but that is another story.

Bad ass former Black Ops black guy sees someone walking down the street, bag of groceries in hand. Bad ass jumps out of his car, runs the guy down and then carries out a field adjudication. In short, he of the grocery bag is executed and a throw down is placed next to his body.

After the normal yadda-yadda, it is revealed that the dead guy was a death squad type from Haiti. Bad juju, no doubt, and it was a black-on-black crime, after all. Back to a little old blaxploitation. But the long and short of it is, the death was sanctioned and the bad ass cop was covered for his expediency.

The take-home? Serial killers and former death squad members are so bad that they don't deserve to stand before a judge and jury. They can be shot down in the street like dogs, of course only by trusted SF types or homicidal maniacs made-good, like Dexter. Welcome to America, 21st century style. Meanwhile, a document called The Constitution sits yellowing under glass somewhere--an annoyance for 6th grade Civics classes to study.

Both the programs "24" and "Dexter" dwell in the same moral vacuum shared by the advocates of walking the dark side in our current administration. This series has tapped into a vein that pulses through the body politic of the U.S., and we love it and accept it as entertainment. However, this enjoyment is a reversal from early Hollywood types. Good guys wore white, or the blue police suit.

In the past, the media looked unfavorably upon rogue cops who took the law into their own hands, usually for their own benefit. It could be argued that after Vietnam, anti-heroes like Dirty Harry assumed a more tolerated and even revered place in the pantheon. Perhaps the trend to social disillusionment began earlier, after the McCarthy witch hunts. But certainly, the anti-hero was just that -- against type.

Still, the anti-hero had to throw his badge away at the end as he had broken a social covenant, witness Dirty Harry and Marshall Kane in High Noon. Though they were often fighting corruption within the system, they were punished for not being company men. In police dramas, that meant not only following the Blue code, but social norms as well.

However in Dexter, the bad behavior is sanctioned both from within the force and without (by we, the audience and society.) We accept that the rogues serve the greater good and possess the wisdom of discernment. It is justice meted out on the cheap, Dirty Harry meets Dick Cheney.

Dexter and the Bad Ass cop will begin to work hand in hand to eliminate national security threats as well as serial killers. It is the creation of a perversely protective social milieu in which brutality becomes the long arm of the law. You just have to trust that they won't mistake you when you are walking home with the groceries one day.

If they do, you will not have your day in court.

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Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i was appalled by that subplot too. one source of continuing pride for me has been never hearing about a SEAL going rogue. no bell towers, no racist compounds in idaho.

we gotta a lot of 'splainin' to do about eric prince and his merc force though.

i doubt special forces types, especially delta or dedicated snake eaters would find much success in police work. it was certainly the last field i would have ever considered. did think about law school though. . .

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 7:40:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Labrys said...

I am really glad I stopped watching. I have to say, on a lot of the cop shows (Law & Order, etc) there is a lot more brutal behavior than once seen. One of my more common rants is how television writers are using shows to "prep" us for how things are going to be. But nobody listens as long as there is still the required cutesy joke someplace in the show.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 9:45:00 AM GMT-5  

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