Jesse Bone: Women on Tap

The as-promised Jesse Stone analysis.

I first heard of the Jesse Stone series a couple years ago when they showed up on Netflix Instant. I tend to like the movies that Tom Selleck picks, and from that I deduced that I would probably like the sort of work produced by the sort of people that would pick Tom Selleck to star in their movie. While Magnum P.I. is his most famous, his cowboy roles are not far behind in popularity. Westerns are one of the few genres where conservative minds are still depicted in an unabashed manner. It’s a natural fit for the outdoorsy and Republican-voting NRA spokesman. So, on that recommendation I watched the first one, “Jesse Stone: Stone Cold”. It was sort of slow, and quite somber; which pretty much describes the whole series…or at least the first five. It’s also directed squarely at the kind of people who would be accused described as conservative-minded; particularly those who are middle-aged (or soon to be) and female.

Jesse Stone is a former Los Angeles homicide detective who takes a job as sheriff of a sleepy New England village. He does this because his wife started having an affair which culminated in her leaving him. In turn, Jesse began drinking heavily, even getting in trouble for doing so on the job. Though he ran away from that life he remains in daily contact with his ex-wife via nightly phone calls; usually with the handset in one hand, and two fingers of Johnnie Walker Red Label in the other. In between solving murder cases, shooting bad guys, talking to his ex, and getting blitzed on good booze, Jesse finds the time to bed a number of women; at a rate of about two per episode. They are all attractive women between 32-to-40 years of age, have their own careers, and are eager to jump in the sack with him. That never occurs later than their first date–if they make it that far.

From a marketing perspective it is very clever. For starters: They managed to combine ALL the conservative heroic career tropes into one character: wrongly disgraced former cop, current cop, cowboy from the wild west, even a Los Angeles noir vibe. The only thing missing is military service, but I’ll bet it’s in the backstory somewhere. As I said: clever. That conglomerated conservative hero outline suggests that a whole lot of thought when into making him as broadly appealing as possible.

Here’s where I think conservatives are confused (see: Sherlock-by-way-of-GKC “You see but you do not observe”): Can you tell me which of the romantic plotlines is meant to appeal to men, and which to women, and why?

The phonecalls with his ex-wife are mostly for the male viewers; men who want their women to appreciate them for who they are, what they’ve done, and what they’ve sacrificed. Granted, this pulls a bit on the heartstrings of women, because they’d really like their respective men to be this hung-up on them, and they believe they’d treat their men better. If you took this storyline out, men would be less satisfied with the show. Women could take it or leave it.

But female characters in the series take their turns on Jesse’s bone for the female viewers; who identify with and idolize the strong female character with a great figure, good career, and space in Jesse’s bed. It doesn’t bother the female audience at all that he’s had many women there; all that matters is that their avatar–the sexy empowered career woman–secures the chance to be the last one there. Men, I think, don’t care about the bed-hopping either way. You could take these parts out of the story and male viewers wouldn’t care at all. Women, however, would stop watching.

If you point out this female preference for illicit sex in film they will deny it all day long, and if that doesn’t silence you then prepare to be called: petty, judgmental, tyrannical, disproportionate, etc. If you were to do the same to a guy about Maxim magazine, he’d shrug, and say, “Yeah, you’re right, but I like boobs.”

The real truth about porn is that it’s not even “mostly” a men’s problem. I have read several times now that porn is “becoming” a problem for women because now they comprise 30% of the hardcore video porn consumers. So that’s…

  • 30% of hardcore video porn
  • 97% of porn literature (smut novels, etc.)
  • 97% of porn in R movies
  • 72% of porn in music (generally, guys don’t listen to female artists, but girls do listen to male artists)
  • 72% of porn in magazine racks (tabloids, Cosmo, Maxim, Redbook, etc.)
  • 2% of porn in adult magazine racks (Playboy, Penthouse, etc.)

I took off 3% for the gays. If we factor in who is creating and modeling all this porn, then the percentages only go up. All I’ve included is (reasonable guesses of) the consumer market.

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24 thoughts on “Jesse Bone: Women on Tap

  1. The Jesse Stone books are good, too, as are the Spenser novels by the same author, Robert B. Parker. The romantic relationships in both series are not biblical, but otherwise both series extol character virtues: honesty, bravery, loyalty, justice, etc.

  2. I very much like the Jesse Stone character as portrayed by Tom Selleck. I never really have a clue what people mean by labels; conservative, libertarian, liberal, ect. Some one always has to ‘splain’ it to me, and I still don’t usually ‘get’it. Jesse Stone is a masculine man, stuck in a world that pushes such men away. His wife divorced him, and he ‘knows’ that it is not how it should be. He knows marriage should be forever. But he has no power to control that end. So he drinks, and eventually tries to move on. He never claims to have been fired wrongly, he was drunk on the job every day. He is a very flawed person. The story world he lives in doesn’t include God, God does not exist, and so, can not be turned to. This is a given in almost all TV/movies. What Jesse does do, is that he treats every person as an individual, and thus his relationship with each is different. This, to me, makes him very likable. He also likes most people, he is not hostile. He may even like the ‘bad’ guys; and then he kills them. Not moral, not amoral, but lots of virtue. Kind of the same type of man as Raylon in ‘Justified’.

  3. @ David & Bobbye

    I like the character and the show, too. There’s no need for a defense. That’s handy, because there is no defense for the critique I’ve made. When GKC asked what is good in “Justified”, I didn’t make a defense of it either. All these shows (Downton Abbey included) have redeeming qualities, and are lawful for me or anyone to watch. However; if we are drawn into temptation it is evil to us, even if lawful.

    By the way, Bobbye: How did you find my blog? I haven’t seen your name on the blogs I visit. I’m curious.

  4. To be fair, wasn’t Stone a Lifetime series? I’m pretty sure it was. That’s another one that I watched the first one and went…ugh.

  5. You mean to be fair to men; as in this is marketed to women to confirm them in their desires–the desires I’ve outlined here? Absolutely!

    That makes Lifetime worldly wise, and Christians who say “it’s no big deal” foolish in both spheres.

  6. Its simple. Female “porn” works vicariously. Men’s porn, far less so if at all. I wrote a long comment at the Matt Walsh blog trying to explain this. Solipsism informs a woman’s view of everything, why not men and porn. That women place themselves, vicariously, in scenarios they see and fantasize about, and they see men as doing the same. They imagine men and porn as men placing themselves on or under or beside the girl in the pic or movie, and projecting that image even onto them when they have sex with their husbands. I cannot say this never happens, nor can I say that women do vicarious universally. But I can say these are valid generalities.
    So women interestingly see their vicarious experiencing of their porn as innocent (because of its remove) while seeing that exact characteristic they imagine about men and porn as expressly why it is so vile. These wonders are unceasing.
    That’s why shows that wrap things women can experience vicarious titillation from with ribbons of socially good (within their social cohort) behaviors. Enough “good” buttons are pressed that she can wallow in a puddle of muck comprised of her own imaginings but climb out of that puddle with a pristine white dress on, still unmarred.

  7. To add: Id suggest that its women who are more guilty of imposing an image of another man onto the rutting beast sweating over her than the man is onto the delicate flower affording him access.

  8. To be fair means I don’t expect anything other than soft porn from Lifetime. The whole platform is for soft porn. There’s a reason why my father-in-law liked the channel. It wasn’t for the sweeping depth of its narratives.

  9. I’m also typing this in between doing other things…so rapid posting… but I think Cane your style and mine differs on the bans. I watched Bone and ridiculed it for the whole hour and half. My wife watches Arrow. I make it a point to come down and just blow gaping holes in it and point out the “fan service” while sipping on my drink of the evening.

  10. while sipping on my drink of the evening.

    Perhaps you were contemplating those reasons you were shown were compelling reasons to like the taste and were distracted from the proigram?

  11. @David

    I thought I had seen on IMDB that it aired on CBS, but I was willing to accept either CBS or Lifetime. Drawing distinctions between the two is the error we make that I mentioned in my post today:

    A lot of us (including myself) allowed these things in because we were told they were okay; we were told we could trust Disney, and the rating system, and network television, and adult time slots. Implicitly, too, we were told we could trust the the rack behind the counter at the convenience store contained the lust; that we could trust the neon XXX sign to corral the smut.

    And (not to pick on him, but) GKC expresses that mistake in his comment (“Seriously? CBS aired that?”) That should surprise no one. “We see, but we do not observe”

    @GKC

    I think Cane your style and mine differs on the bans. I watched Bone and ridiculed it for the whole hour and half. My wife watches Arrow. I make it a point to come down and just blow gaping holes in it and point out the “fan service” while sipping on my drink of the evening.

    I ban different things in different ways for different people. (Another post, there, that directly follows on this one). I did not ban my friend from the NFL, but myself, and I don’t make a big deal out of it. He doesn’t even know. I don’t leave bars that have it on. When my family came over for Thanksgiving we watched football as my father enjoys it.) Some things I only ban from my kids. Some things I only ban from myself and for myself. Some things I do as you, plop down and ridicule it.

    And if I don’t feel like going through that–say, because the show bores me and I don’t believe they are getting my message–I just ban it. The important thing is to not feel bad about this, which men are wont to do; especially when wives complain, or throw hissy fits. A childish response is a sure sign you’re on the right track. Even if I’m wrong about Downton Abbey: I don’t care, and neither should my wife and children. If they do: Too bad, and it’s on them. Who are they to sacrifice their father’s trust for a TV program?

  12. It’s funny, I never got a hissy fit for bans. Worse I got was a, “oh please don’t!”. That should have cottoned me on to the whole thing but I was still a few years off.

  13. As a teenager, I had a real problem with some of the stuff you mentioned: specifically romance novels and daytime soap operas. Daytime televsion? Some of that stuff is just a hair’s breath away from being outright pornographic. I had to cut it all out cold turkey. So I did.

    A few years ago ABC premiered a show called Grey’s Anatom and a friend of mine said I just “had to watch it.” I got about to episode 4 and realized that it was not for me: sex, sex, and more sex. I just didn’t need that on my brain, so I stopped watching.

    All that to say that you have a point: female preferred strains of pronography are more readily, accepted, more readily available, and more likely to be embraced and celebrated as a part of the mainstream. Which is too bad because it’s more destructive.

    Oh, as for Downton, I find Mary insufferable, and found her slutty behavior despicable. I didn’t even think she was the pretttiest. So there’s that.

    Not that I’m discounting ALL of what you say about how we tend to identify with what we watch. I just found the youngest daughter who ran off and the married the driver against her family’s wishes much prettier, more relatable, and the TC ladies can tell you I found said driver to be head and shoulders above the richer, supposedly more handsome men swirling about the estate.

    Predicable, I know.

  14. I should have finished my thought which was ulitmately this:

    Downton Abbey is not the equivalent of female porn. We part ways on that one. There are degrees of effect depending on the woman and the genre indulged in, but promotion of liberal ideology does not fem-porn make.

  15. @Elspeth

    Oh, as for Downton, I find Mary insufferable, and found her slutty behavior despicable. I didn’t even think she was the pretttiest. So there’s that.

    Not that I’m discounting ALL of what you say about how we tend to identify with what we watch. I just found the youngest daughter who ran off and the married the driver against her family’s wishes much prettier, more relatable, and the TC ladies can tell you I found said driver to be head and shoulders above the richer, supposedly more handsome men swirling about the estate.

    &

    Downton Abbey is not the equivalent of female porn.

    Sounds like you’re using the wide variety of vicarious sexual fantasy (pornography) in Downton Abbey as an attempt to counter the argument. It would make more sense if you at least said you weren’t susceptible to it, but you actually put yourself into the show; in your very own words.

    None of this series focused on liberal ideology.

  16. None of this series focused on liberal ideology.

    That comment was in reference to your point to GKC about the show having no conservative bona fides, so to speak. You’re right, and it has gotten far, far worse since the season 1 you watched. The clothes sure are pretty, though!

    Sounds like you’re using the wide variety of vicarious sexual fantasy (pornography) in Downton Abbey as an attempt to counter the argument. It would make more sense if you at least said you weren’t susceptible to it, but you actually put yourself into the show; in your very own words.

    Yes, I recognized exactly what I was saying, which is why the lion’s share of my comment was in broad agreement with what you had to say.

    I simply think you fail to give us women (some of us) sufficient credit for seeing clearly enough exactly what is going on and having the cognizance to make right distinctions in our thoughts and behavior. That (to borrow from Empath), watching the show is an event, not something that we carry around with us and allow to shape the very course of our lives and how we conduct relationships.

  17. @Elspeth

    I simply think you fail to give us women (some of us) sufficient credit for seeing clearly enough exactly what is going on and having the cognizance to make right distinctions in our thoughts and behavior. That (to borrow from Empath), watching the show is an event, not something that we carry around with us and allow to shape the very course of our lives and how we conduct relationships.

    Whatever credit I give is taken from women’s pool of credibility in general. Women lie reflexively about their own sin. Like fretful sheep in a herd, each one bounds over the other to get to the middle of the pile. (“Some of us aren’t like that. “I’m not like other women”; etc.)

    If that doesn’t work, then they frame shift to say, “Oh, it’s everywhere. This particular bit of it is nothing in comparison. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill, Cane.” Bullshit. The fact that it’s everywhere PROVES my point. Everyone knows women control the purse strings of families everywhere–that’s why porn is everywhere. And then round and round we go: “I’m not like other women everywhere.” Yes, you are.

    Don’t make this about you. It’s not about you, and I have said what I said as a favor to women; whether you understand it or not. It’s a very short trip from, “Downton Abbey is fine”, to, “Watching Scandal doesn’t affect me any more than Downton Abbey does.”, to, “OMG, girl! Did you see Scandal this week? Hhhhhoooo! That one was hawt!”

  18. Don’t make this about you. It’s not about you, and I have said what I said as a favor to women; whether you understand it or not.

    I honestly didn’t think it was about me. I have been more than honest (perhaps to a fault) about my weaknesses and proclivities.

    I just happen to sincerely believe that while you are right in the general sense about a significant majority of entertainment consuming women. I have long accepted that AWALT to some degree. Still my friend, there has to be some allowance for the possibility that we women (wrethced as we are) can figure out a few things.

    My husband would never allow Scandal to air in his house. And thinking back to the whole Grey’s Anatomy thing, it was he who first said to me, “You know how you are. Do you really need to be watching a show with so much bed hopping and sex?”

    He gave me the opportunity to think it through for myself. If I hadn’t come to the right conclusion on my own, he would have made the decision for me. In retrospect, it wasn’t my idea to scrap that particular show.

  19. @Elspeth

    Still my friend, there has to be some allowance for the possibility that we women (wrethced as we are) can figure out a few things.

    Agreed. Where have I said otherwise? (Just to be clear: The title is not wretch-ed, but retched; as in vomited; as in “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly”.)

    It sounds to me, Elspeth, that your husband is exactly like me. Think back the Grey’s Anatomy period, and were your daughters watching it with you? Mightn’t he have taken a different tack, and said, “Sorry, no.”

    Thinking about the female comments in aggregate: I’m not sure what it desired, here. Is it a catalog of how I defend what is mine to make sure it was done in a manner that pleases the women? That’s not going to happen.

    What should have happened is that God was praised that someone, somewhere was standing between his wife and daughters, and the World. Instead I got a lot of, “Well, I wouldn’t like that at all! I’m a big enough girl to have my own head, and your wife and daughters should be, too.”

  20. No, my daughters weren’t watching Grey’s with me. They were quite young, as I recall 12 and 13 at the time. I had a little bit of common sense, but just a little.

    What should have happened is that God was praised that someone, somewhere was standing between his wife and daughters, and the World. Instead I got a lot of, “Well, I wouldn’t like that at all! I’m a big enough girl to have my own head, and your wife and daughters should be, too.”

    No, it’s not that. It’s good that you’re guarding your family well. They’re you’re women. You know them. We don’t, same as my husband knows me well enough to know that Grey’s Anatomy was a terrible pill for me to start swallowing.

    We just enjoy Downton. If you’d used Scandal as your example, you’d not have heard a peep.

  21. @Elspeth

    We just enjoy Downton. If you’d used Scandal as your example, you’d not have heard a peep.

    That is exactly why I rejected Scandal, but picked Downton Abbey and Jesse Stone. I picked the things of this world that everyone thinks are safe; that they watch without discrimination–as women here testified, “I just watch it for the clothes”, etc. Then they defend it, and talk about how they identify with it. Why defend something that you watch for the clothes? Why pretend to only watch for the clothes when the truth is that you insert yourself into it?

    Downton Abbey is tricky precisely because it appears to be Pride and Prejudice, but it’s actually Scandal.

  22. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2013/12/04 | Free Northerner

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