I’ve mentioned before that I pretty much sat out the first decade of the 21st century when it came to pop culture, which is how I entirely missed Ricky Martin. Having young children simply left me uninterested in things other than diapers, soccer carpools, etc. Now those same children are bringing me back into pop culture. Not only am I doing a better job of tracking current trends, I’m also learning about past pop culture trends I might have missed.
One of these trends, which is both current and past, is the show Bones. My daughter discovered it on streaming video last summer while she was trapped in a Greek hospital following an appendix operation. The show follows the exploits of shiny, pretty forensic anthropologists and FBI people as they solve gruesome crimes. With rare exceptions, each show begins with the discovery of a gruesome, maggot-infested corpse, and then shows the scientists/anthropologists use incredibly high-tech equipment, plus their encyclopedic minds, to discern the truth about the corpse’s life and death. It’s a surprisingly enjoyable show, made more so, for me, by the fact that it’s very nice to look at David Boreanz, the lead male actor. (In my dotage, I seem to have turned into the “cougar” equivalent of a chicken hawk. “Chicken hawk” as you may recall, is the derogatory term given to armchair warriors who advocate a hawk-like military stance, secure that they’ll never actually have to be in the line of fire. But I digress, quite wildly . . . .)
Aside from being fairly entertaining on its own terms, I find the show fascinating because of the messages: The lead FBI agent is a former special forces sniper, and the show doesn’t think less of him for that fact. He’s also religious, and the show doesn’t think less of him for that fact either. In “The Man In The Wall,” a dead man’s father convinces the FBI agent (correctly, as it turns out) that the dead man was not involved in drugs and crime because “I taught him to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” It’s peculiar to see a show that, instead of sneering at this viewpoint, apparently approves of it.
The lead forensic anthropologist, the eponymous “Bones,” is a genius who is totally invested in scientific truth, but is often at a loss to understand ordinary human interactions. Because of her almost child-like intellectual honest, she speaks the truth in a way many of us would find admirable (and irritating). Bones doesn’t believe in God, because there is, in her mind, no proof that God exists, but she believes in morality. In “A Man On Death Row,” she firmly advocates the death penalty, provided one is sure that the killer did indeed kill. Under those circumstances, Bones says, there are definitely people who deserve to die because (although she doesn’t articulate this as clearly) through their callous disdain for human life, they have forfeited the right to that life themselves. This episode, incidentally, is worth watching in its entirety, because I’m pretty sure that the episode’s writers and producers also believe in the death penalty.
And speaking of the death penalty, Dennis Prager believes in it too. I find his proposal a bit silly (sorry, Dennis), but I do think that both he and Bones are on to the core point about why the death penalty, provided that it is hedged about with due process, and rigorous moral and intellectual honesty, is the right thing for a functioning society that, counter-intuitively as far as death penalty opponents are concerned, values human life.
UPDATE: This post, about the silliness of applying the Occupy movement to prisons, seems apropos.