My current Drama binge: Bones, the murder mystery drama tv show about a socially and psychologically crippled genius forensic anthropologist, and a damaged but devoted self-proclaimed God-fearing Catholic alpha-male type FBI agent. I absolutely love the bit where the two of them try to communicate. My favorite quote from the show? Bones: I don’t know what that means.
Bones looks at the world through a “rational” lens where she attempts to analyze, categorize and predict everything she sees according to her anthropological background. Boothe, on the other hand, goes by feel. He believes stuff, he knows stuff, and he trusts his faith and his intuition to guide him. They make a great pair for solving murder mysteries, but they also are a great tool for exploring the gray areas between everything we believe and everything we know. This is why I am in love with the show.
Last night was Season 3, episode 3 where they find a body in the woods murdered in a ritualistic way that suggests he was involved in pony play. Pony play is a role-playing game of a sort where one person assumes the role of groom or rider and the other person assumes the role of the pony. Sometimes it can be sexual, sometimes it can be a therapeutic release from the Goffmanian roles we are forced to assume every day in order to operate in society.
After solving the mystery, the two partners sit down at their regular cafe together for lunch. Boothe is obviously bothered by having been forced to witness the “freaks” at play. He obviously thinks of them as freaks because he tells bones that their sex is inferior to what he thinks of as normal sex, sometimes referred to as plain vanilla sex. Bones challenges him, as is the norm, by saying he has no evidence and that pony play is a very old and sometimes respected form of human interaction going back as far as the ancient Greeks. Boothe then gives Bones a diatribe on how their sex isn’t real sex because sex is “making love” and that brings two people together in a way that nothing else in the world can. Bones caves. Just like that.
On the one hand, I could not possibly expect network television to stage a battle between vanilla catholicism and freaky perverts and side with the perverts, but on the other hand the show doesn’t usually pick a winner between the two and it didn’t have to this time either. For the first time, I was disgusted at the message this show was sending to people about who they are and what it means to be “normal.” Science, for one thing, is well aware of the very human and very non-perverse reasons why people would want to play together in a fantasy world where they make up the rules and can shed their every-day masks and be something that they feel represents who they truly are. I realize that tv is not science, but tv creates reality for the people who watch it because, in principle, it’s about real people, just like them.