Saturday, December 10, 2011

Logic? On 21 Jumpstreet?

Never read Ralph Waldo Emerson and then watch 21 Jumpstreet. After so many hours of struggling to make sense of Emerson's mayhem (an impossible feat, by the way), the logical part of my brain simply refuses to switch itself off. Hence, the birth of actually finding a purpose in Richard Grieco's role as Dennis Booker. Wow, I never thought that would happen.

I first started watching Jumpstreet about 5 years ago. I'm a Johnny Depp nut, what can I say. Plus, I'm hooked on 80s fashion, crazy thought it may be. When Richard Grieco joined the team, I couldn't stand him. Maybe it was those disgustingly dark eyelashes of his (it was eyelash envy). Or it might have been that I saw him as challenging Johnny's character Tom Hanson. Everyone knew Grieco joined the team so Johnny could avoid participating in certain episodes of which he didn't approve. Grieco was unwanted and disliked so I just went along with the fad, albeit about 20 years too late to have an impact.

Imagine my shock at discovering that Booker might actually be the most level-headed and least biased member of the team. Everyone else is driven by emotions even Hanson though he hides it relatively well. Penhall and Hoffs are definitely emotion-driven and so the other team members rarely challenge them. Then you have Booker. This man is logical and after a little bit of study I decided he is an ISTP on the Myers/Briggs scale. He prefers to make judgments based on fact instead of emotion and he can definitely explode in anger if he becomes over-stressed, but most importantly he is loyal and very supportive during a crisis.

My episode of choice tonight was Next Victim from season three that has Booker taking the place of a racist radio talk show host who was injured by a car bombing. Everyone else on his team groups into one camp while Booker is forced to play the devil's advocate. Hoffs in particular takes great offense at Booker's calculating nature on the air and his offensive dialogue. Booker almost becomes the enemy, a racist who is just like the other racists on the college campus. She reacts emotionally to an event which should have been approached indifferently.

What intrigued me most, though, was how Booker was the only real character in this episode. Both sides were done to extremes. The racist is a young man, extremely conservative, who has political ambitions and believes African Americans have under-developed brains. Say what? The other side, the side of justice and equality, is issuing death threats to Booker, calling him a fascist, and refuses to run politically because the system is dead. Excuse me?

I remember why this episode annoyed me so much all those years ago, because it's NOT convincing! Only rarely would you find someone who would dare voice his ludicrous opinions about African Americans. You certainly shouldn't be using such a character in a television program as a representation of an entire political group. Yet that happened to both characters. So, we're left with Booker. At least Booker has some sense. Neither party is entirely right and he knows it. Hoffs is so intently active with the equality crowd that she gets angry when Booker warns her to be careful. The other side hails Booker as a hero because of the things he's forced to say on the air.

At the end of the episode Booker actually sits down and holds a genuine conversation with his radio audience (his last conversation since he was only undercover). He calls people on their hatred and fear. We love to blame others for a perceived lack in our lives. Hatred is a manifestation of the fear that we will never live up to a certain expected standard and so we express ourselves by hating someone perceived as being of lesser value or weaker. In the entire episode Booker was the only one to apply logic to the situation. Both sides of the issue literally attacked each other, both with words and with fists. Booker alone could see the damage done because neither side would compromise or at least respect the other.

Now, I'm a conservative, born and bred and proud to be one. But what I see when I look at my political party isn't always a pretty sight. What I want is someone intelligent and relatively blameless who won't be afraid to pursue a point all the way to the end. Someone who won't be deterred by any wayward diatribes thrown his way. I want those thoughts to be followed through to the end, so people can make a genuinely informed decision. That's really all that Booker's asking for! Unfortunately that means that both sides need to participate fairly! And, personally, I don't see that happening on the Democrat side of the fence anytime soon since they're still playing that tired old tune of Republicans trying to take away the rights of minority groups and forcing religion down everybody's throat. Now that sounds like hatred and bias to me! People in power have a responsibility to give their constituents both sides of an argument. You can't just shout down an opponent anymore! The people have a right to understand.

For the first time ever Booker and I were on the same wavelength. A scary thing considering how much I disliked him all those years ago. The very thing I couldn't stand about him in my early twenties is what I value now that I'm nearing thirty. His logic!

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