Friday, April 26, 2013
"SouthLAnd" -- John Cooper's Drug Dealer
There are a couple of "SouthLAnd" characters who I have particularly enjoyed, even though they have had smaller parts.
One of these characters is John Cooper's drug dealer from the earlier seasons of the show. This guy is often seen in the gay bar, selling Officer Cooper his supply of pain pills. Sometimes, he shows up in other locations. What especially intrigues me about Mr. Drug Dealer is that he appears to be wearing a Scapular. If you are a Catholic, you may know what a Scapular is. It is worn about the neck, much like a crucifix or a holy medal. It is made of cloth with a small crucifix and St. Benedict medal attached to it. And there are some words printed on the cloth. If it is the Brown Scapular -- such as the one the drug dealer seems to be wearing -- it has a promise of Mary stating that if you die wearing the Scapular, you will not suffer the eternal fire. Of course, this promise only applies under certain conditions -- one of these conditions being that you have some sorrow in your heart for whatever wrong you have done in your life. The Brown Scapular was reportedly given to the Church by the Blessed Mother to St. Simon Stock in the thirteenth century.
(Aside: Just so you know, Catholics are not required to wear -- or even believe in -- the Brown Scapular.)
So, here is a drug dealer in a gay bar selling illicit pain killers to John Cooper -- while wearing a Scapular. And I think it is brilliant. It is a wardrobe item that gives you great insights into this character, especially when combined with the things he says and does. He never seems to be completely at ease with the idea that Cooper could suffer death, or even serious health consequences, from the drugs he is taking. He warns him more than one time that he is taking too much. Of course, the dealer makes this concern out to be self-interest on his part. After all, he tells John, having one of his customers die would be bad for business. And so it would be. But, the dealer -- through his facial expressions and body language -- appears to have more than self-centered motivations. We see an inkling of actual concern in this man. Perhaps he was raised as a Catholic -- it is possible that his family background is Hispanic, for example -- and his conscience has not been fully erased, even through his rather nefarious profession.
The writers of "SouthLAnd" have always been amazing. They have created characters that are complex and multi-layered. Nobody is completely good or evil. All struggle as human beings. We have consistently seen this with the main characters. And perhaps it is true with the more minor ones, as well. Maybe care was taken by the writers of the show to make even this character -- with a relatively small role -- someone who would be thought-provoking. And if this is the case, whoever had the idea of putting a Scapular around the guy's neck... Well... My hat is off to you.
Maybe my eyes deceived me -- I do not see as well as I used to -- and it is not actually a Scapular the drug dealer is wearing. In that case, what I have written is so much dust in the wind. Although, Scapular or no Scapular, John Cooper's drug dealer will always stand out in my mind as one of the more outstanding of "SouthLAnd's" supporting characters.