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.