Though I don’t follow the TV show Dexter, I do know it had its season finale this week. And although the show doesn’t quite catch my attention (I find the acting tiresome and the narration off-putting), I was very interested to find out that Dexter, the series and the character, were based on a real person, Manuel Pardo, who was executed in Florida last week. Pardo was an ex-Miami police officer who shared a lot of similarities with Dexter. Both were cops for the Miami police department, and both killed “bad guys” –though Dexter killed killers, while Pardo killed drug dealers. Both kept pictures of their victims, Dexter in his computer and Pardo kept polaroids. Both were exceptional family men and fathers.
But Dexter really missed the boat on this one. Why make the character American with an American name? Would audiences not relate to a nice-sounding Hispanic name? They should, it’s about time. Hispanics are an ever-growing share of the population –they practically chose the current president– so the producers could have done America a huge favor by introducing a major character in a TV show that would look like many of the people in their audience, or someone they know (the Hispanic part, not the undercover serial killer part).
The story and the show would’ve been much more amazing. It could have delved on the war on drugs, offering insight into something that is tremendously important for US domestic and foreign policy, a topic most Americans don’t know much about, aside from consumption. So think a mix of Breaking Bad, Dexter and Cocaine Cowboys, that could actually provide a service to its audience.
The fact that the producers anglified the main character is boring, predictable and lamentable, like The Impossible, the new movie about the 2004 South Asian tsunami that anglifies and appropriates the stories and tragedies of hundreds of thousands of Asians. Not only that, but how pressing is it, really, to “understand” serial killers? Aside from our gory fascination with them, what are the odds you’ll run into one in your lifetime? What are the odds that any of the often fantastical material presented in Dexter as somewhat realistic drama will be relevant to your life? Whereas, drugs, and the war on, are very relevant –to some people more than others, but definitely higher up the list of priorities than “serial killers”. Drugs, the mass incarceration of African American and Latinos, the international drug trade, are all issues especially worthy of discussion in the US and its neighboring countries. It’s a wasted opportunity to make entertainment that is valuable and rises above the trite and vacuous format of entertainment for entertainment’s sake. Similar to the wasted opportunity of having shows about Arab Americans that are true to life, or teaching Arab in schools. It’s the wasted opportunity of having the entertainment-news-media industry cover the Middle East in a more nuanced way so that once we hear about an Arab Spring we’re not left with no fucking idea of what’s going on, or when Islamist extremists attack the US we are not left wondering why “they hate us for our freedom.” A similar service could be provided in regards to those Americans white America doesn’t know much or care about.
- Fla. ex-cop set for execution in 1986 killing of 9 (miamiherald.com)
- Confessions Of A Serial Killer: A First Person Account (miami.cbslocal.com)
- Psychology Of Season 7 Of Dexter (techwench.com)