Above us, Only Sky

Politics, Philosophy, Science, and Everything Else.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Suicide Bomber on prime time?

I caught the last episode of the series 'Third Watch' the other day. I am able to watch Tv shows at odd times because rather than just watching them when they pop up on TV, I download them with file sharing software. This is good for me in two ways: first I can watch every episode in order without missing any regardless of what I'm doing when they actually air, and second I get to avoid the advertising, which accounts for about 25% of an hourly show, and something liek 30% of a half-hour show. The upshot is that I get to miss all of the 'upcoming episode' stuff, so this series finale was actually a complete surprise for me.
I like Third Watch, it seems to be honest to the characters, it addressed the whole 9/11 thing from very close up without getting maudlin or ridiculous, and it had pleasantly frequent shoot-outs and explosions. What caught my attention was that one of the main characters suicide bombed herself in the final to wipe out a group of particularly violent criminals. This action was reasonably true to the character- she was fairly indifferent to her own safety throughout the series, and was lookign forward to death-by-cancer, which could quite plausibly lead a self-sufficient warrior type to choose a heroic death over gradual death from within.
The implications, one would think, would be a little greater. This is after all a show that documented the events that sparked the 'war on terror'. Did nobody notice that they glorified a suicide bomber in their finale? That her death was very explcitly meant to be taken as heroic? I'm not saying I disagree with that viewpoint- the world of Third-Watch is a little more black and white than our own, and with it's context what she did really was a heroic act. My point is that this show has created a context through which the red-blooded american publuc can simpathize with the idea of someone going into enemy territory with a bomb and the intention to use it to kill yourself and as many of the enemy as possible.
Where is the uproar? Where is the controversy, the protests? It's bizarre. Maybe I missed it because I watch so little TV. Or maybe it's simpler: because no one has come out and pointed this out to people, they just don't see it.
For joe-american, terrorists a bloodthirsty bearded fellows who 'hate freedom'. They can't be equated with anyone we might simpathize with- to even suggest it is laughable. See, I believe that the average 'terrorist' sees themselves much as that fictional cop saw herself- giving their lives for a cause. That they are very ofetn deluded, and that the results of their actions are horrific goes without question. What needs to be explored is the path from calculated sacrifce to bloody mayhem is not so long as people think. This TV show has taken a few tentative steps along that path- and nobody seesm to have noticed. It's too bad.


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