What do we have here, a serial killer trying to pass himself off as normal?
A hallucination of your father admonishing you for your mistakes is a pretty standard literary metaphor for the superego, and if that’s true you should probably sit down: this superego, like your superego, doesn’t criticize him for doing something wrong, like killing, but for doing something that would endanger his serial killing, his enjoyment. “The code” isn’t a moral (right/wrong) code but an ethical one: “you will kill (and here’s how you go about it for max pleasure.)” There’s no guilt, only shame, which is precisely the feeling he has when his sister catches him enjoying. So rather than Dexter being about an aberration of our society, it’s a reflection of our time: we don’t feel bad for acting on our desires, we feel bad if we don’t act on them. Only in America would we be depressed about the fact that we aren’t happy. You can read it again if you want, but no, it doesn’t make sense.
But it’s fiction, right? So what he “is” isn’t important, what’s important is what the viewers want him to be: a serial killer pretending to be normal, a monster hiding in plain sight. That would conveniently let us off the hook, I’ll admit, but saying it for 7 seasons doesn’t make it true. Your first clue is the voice over, and voice overs are for the purpose of making the viewer disbelieve his eyes. Turn the volume down, and see: a normal person with normal relationships, a bond to his father, sister, kid(s), friends. “But he can’t love.” HA! Tell me what that would look like, use no examples from TV or movies, I’ll be at the bar with a billion dollars reward money that you will never collect.
And when teenagers and adults secretly tell me (as if they were the only ones) that they feel a little like Dexter, the lack of empathy, the lack of emotion, “I feel like I fake normality a lot of the time”, I ask, wait, how do you know that’s how Dexter feels? Maybe you’re not like Dexter so much as he’s a lot like you, i.e. like everyone. Funny how we never connected with any of the other serial killers on that show, just the one guy who thinks he’s unlike everyone else who all think they’re unlike everyone else.
“He’s insane!” Run the test: is he unable to understand that what he is doing is wrong? No. Is he unable to control himself? No– he covers his tracks and waits for opportunities. Is he suffering from a mental disorder that impairs his reason? No. This is a sane man who was allowed and then allowed himself to pursue and indulge in desires which, admittedly, are whacked, under the premise that they are innate and going to come out eventually. I love the show and therefore I’m happy to root for the morally ambiguous protagonist, but TV is wrong, this isn’t how a serial killer would act if he wanted to be normal, this is exactly how you think you would act if you decided to kill people.
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