Madison Cowan London Brickley English 1000: TV Shows September 7, 2012 Trying To Feel Normal Showtime’s new age murder drama, Dexter (2006- to present), is more than what the cover art will have you to believe it is, or is it? Dexter is a television show about the life of a murderer. Dexter, the main character, is no ordinary killer though. He is a community hero! He kills murderers; only serving justice to those who truly deserve it. If taking a passing glance at the show’s ad you might think that it’s just a normal sorrow or sullen looking man and his name written in bright red letters across the bottom.
You may even notice that beneath his name it says “SHOWTIME,” causing you to realize that is actually a TV show. So you decide to take a second look, then you realize that the hand his chin is perched on is a much different color than the rest of him and below the hand it says, “Take Life. Seriously. ” Now you are really intrigued and start reading the rest of the ad and below, what you now recognize is a bloody smear of a name, are the words “A Killer New Series. ” The ad basically begs your dark side to watch the show and find out what they really mean by “killer. The use of color, short phrases, and gore-like imagery in the seemingly normal setting on Dexter’s cover art gives the ad an eerie feel which is perfect for the gruesome show’s reputation of being a dramatic narrative look into the life of a hero serial killer. The whole show is based around the main character, Dexter, and his need cover up his dark secret and fit into society. The picture of Dexter is extremely close up. It’s also portrait-like, framing the angles of his face with a white backdrop. Dexter is causally resting on his hand as he gazes directly into the camera with vacant eyes.
At first glance you probably wouldn’t notice how the arm is so very different from Dexter because even though it is white, it is the right hand, which are the fingers and side of the palm you would have seen if it had been his own hand. That’s so very interesting because of the way the hand is turned, it’s like the artists are trying to hint at the fact that this thing is part of him. This “dark passenger” that Dexter speaks not so fondly of during the series makes its first appearance on the premiere poster when this hand becomes his own. Death is part of him.
Looking closer at the hand you realize there are small bruises up and down the arm and there isn’t a line from a where a doctor’s glove would end. Also the paleness of the arm is far too pale to just be from death. That limb has been drained of blood. This provides a little clue to the plot because the serial killer that runs rampant through the first season, the Ice Truck Killer, drains his victims of their blood. But this is also another reason why the artists might have decided to make the arm look like it belonged to Dexter because the Ice Truck Killer turns out to be his own brother.
From the a passing glance Dexter looks completely normal, just they right amount of blending in so he doesn’t look like he is trying too hard. From the outside he looks ordinary, healthy and fit, even his standard button-down compliments his skin tone and hair color. The button-down does give a few things away though. One he’s in the work force, it’s the businessman’s calling card. Two it’s also the look of serial killers through the ages. If you were to go back and look through history, all the serial killers are white males generally in the white-collar line of work with nondescript features and brown hair.
He’s the perfect amount of ordinary so that no one would suspect a thing. In the show Dexter is they nice guy in the office, bringing donuts frequently and always being there to help. But the blood splatter name in the corner definitely shows the murderous side of Dexter the show and Dexter himself. The bright blood splatter name definitely has more than one meaning in the ad. If you were going from the standpoint of never seeing the show then you would obviously have to do with the blood of the people who are hurt or murdered during this “killer” new series.
The artists were obviously drawing on the fact that there is quite a bit of blood in the series. You could also say that the artists were hinting at that whatever Dexter does it involves blood, later learning that he is a blood splatter analyst and serial killer. But if you have seen the series then you know that Dexter is obsessed with blood, keeping little slides of blood from each person he has killed as trophies. It is only fitting that his name be made out of what he wants to see most. But the color the artists decided to use is eerily bright, bviously no one’s blood is that color. It gives is a fake quality to it, playing on the fakeness of the life of Dexter. The brightness of the blood in contrast to the whole ad also gives it a harsh tone, which is another facet of Dexter’s personality. His dark passenger, and need to kill is the harsh aspect of him. Although used for good, he is harsh on the killers he comes across with. Plus in society anything with such a harsh tone is seen as scary and something to be feared, giving that murderous feeling to the ad.
The sharp contrast of the red to everything else also goes with how he contrasts to everything else in the ad. His face, the red blood and the black text are the only things that stand out because everything else is in between a gray and a pasty white. This is meaningful because of how focused the show is on Dexter, it’s all about him and his inner narrative of his life. While the blood splatter gives a messy feeling to the ad, the simplicity cleans it up. After watching the show you would know that this corresponds very accurately.
The crime scenes and the blood make the show very messy but when you go back to Dexter’s life it creates cleanliness. Not only in his behaviors, calling himself a “clean monster,” and always making sure to clean up after his “messes,” but also his life is simple and clean. He leads a simple life of working, killing, and cleaning up after himself. It’s only later in the season that he complicates it with love and romance, but he still tries to keep the balance by pushing her away.
Although many of the symbols of the poster are hard to see unless you have seen the show the text below the title makes it clearer what is going on. Between the blood splatter and the dropping the word “killer,” it’s evident that there is killing of some kind in the series. However, the short phrase in the left corner states, “Takes Life. Seriously. ” This phrase is definitely a play on words because of that period it drops the bomb that Dexter, actually takes live. But this also gives a vague idea that life has a different value in the world of Dexter than it may in real life.
If you have seen the show you know how much value Dexter places on life and also know that is why he kills murderers. This is also why he makes the murderers feel bad for killing, by showing them their victims’ faces before he makes them his own victims. Everything in Dexter is like murky lake water, you can only see so far down but you know in your heart it goes deeper than you’d ever truly want to know. Each thing in the poster has a meaning down to the way the corpse’s arm is turned.
If you hadn’t seen the show then it would be hard to see the deeper symbolism that is played out through the imagery and text but it does give the show the right attitude and tone. The ad is definitely geared toward newcomers, but only because it is the premiere poster. The target audience would be people that can handle blood and are looking for a murder mystery. Overall the ad does a great job of giving the right amount of information but keeping you extremely interested. Being an avid Dexter follower, I can appreciate the symbolism that is in the ad and makes the show even more exciting.