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NCIS Junkie

Oh, My! It’s a dirty secret, and not so “little”
—I am an NCIS junkie.

I turn the TV on to USA or WGN any time NCIS is playing, which is usually two to three days per week. And, it is for most of the daylight hours of those days, and sometimes into the night.

There, I’ve said it.
I am admitting I am powerless over NCIS.

The crazy thing is that it is so habitual, so mindless, that most of those hours I am not even aware of what is playing on the screen. Some of the time—much of it—I'm not even in the room where it is playing.

I have wondered what the connection is—that requires its being played, in spite of not seeing, not listening, not watching as the storylines play out over and over again.

These channels don’t run through the whole oeuvre; it is clear that they cherry pick. I am sure there is some metric used to identify the most popular—the ones most likely to hook the attention of the aficionado.

I have read that the demographic for the show is the late-middle-aged white male—pretty much the same group who elected Donald Trump. That is the demographic I served when I did psychology at the VA. I certainly don’t match that demographic—at least I am not male. But, there are ways in which I do, if we look behind the simple façade of white manliness.

I think the attraction has to do with what linguist George Lakoff identifies as the “strong father” AND the “nurturant parent” motifs. Lakoff suggests these two ways of parenting, and our attachment to or rejection of them, are at the heart of the culture wars in the United States.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs embodies these two styles together in a way that forms an intriguing, albeit implicit, commentary on what the disaffected white, blue-collar guy might be yearning for. Perhaps, all Americans are yearning for a strong AND loving FATHER who perhaps never was.

Well, there certainly have been individual strong and loving fathers; I’ve known several-I married one. But, in the culture mind of America, he does not exist. We have John Wayne, the Marlboro Man, Superman, Batman, Captain America, and all the RAW stars posturing the strength of “taking no prisoners” and overcoming—no, obliterating—evil. And we have their counterpart strong-arm villians also out to obliterate their rivals. Where evil threatens some sort of murder must prevail, it seems.

And, yet, Leroy Jethro Gibbs is of a different sort. He does kill on occasion; on rare occasions it is ruthless and calculating. He is softer toward women than men. He is more the “strong, silent” John Wayne of cowboy fame, than he is the dithering and affectionate George Banks of “Father of the Bride” fame.

Yet, Leroy Jethro Gibbs is motivated by love, not hate. He is driven by broken-heartedness rather than the desire to dominate.

That is the appeal—it seems to me. There is longing, mostly unconscious, in our culture mind for loving strength that gets things done for love’s sake. There is a counterweight in the unconscious that does not feed on hate.

I suppose that is the source and root of my “addiction”, my mindless habit of having the storylines lap over me day in and day out. I, like my culture, long for strong love and loving strength that know broken-heartedness.

I sometimes wonder if some remote part of me expects to become more like Gibbs from marinating in his storylines. I don’t. I wish it were so. I need more confidence; I need more tenacity; I need more “Just get it done, for Pete’s sake!”

I am still the bitchy part of “strong” and the wimpy part of “love”. I have the strength of my opinions rooted in facts, and the softness of my permissiveness rooted in fuzzy affection that is afraid of hurting anyone.

So, I have this habit of turning on NCIS whenever it is available. (And, if truth be told, I OWN 13 out of 15 seasons on DVD, so I could marinate all my waking hours—and the sleeping ones too, I suppose.)

I don’t “HAVE” to turn it on. I don’t when I have other places to be. I turn it off when I go, as I’ve figured out [DOH!] that is spends electricity unnecessarily. And, I never think twice about turning it on when I am at home.

I want that GOOD strong and loving father. I fancy that is what my age-mate, Trump-voting, blue-collar “brothers” also want. I fear they need it more than I—and boy, do I seem to need it!

So, I’m not breaking the habit yet. And, someday I probably should.

The Yellow Jersey

My Friend, Rick