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Cultural commentary: House S2E4

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, the day in Sweden when we celebrate although the majority of the world celebrate the 25th. I am sitting beside our Christmas tree (i.e. a fir tree in glittery and red festoons) by the fire, drinking glögg (a Swedish beverage that traditionally is a mix between lemonade, wine, and christmassy spices with or without alcohol, where I drink mine without), and watching House.


Now, why even comment on something this happy? I mean, my blog is not aimed at spreading sheer happiness and jolly but at trying to depict the world as I see it. Well, this episode of House revolves around a humanitarian doctor coming home with an unknown sickness initially though to be tuberculosis (the name of the episode, the fourth of the second season, is ”TB or not TB”, a pun comparable to ”To be or not to be”). The doctor, portrayed by Ron Livingston, works in Africa and hence there are recurring discussions of how to balance humanitarian interests with living a good life in a rich country like the United States.

A screen shot from the episode. (for source, see linked site).

Although House is a relatively ‘deep’ TV show, with great philosophical questions, I could not help to come out of the episode with a sense that it portrayed humanitarianism as too egoistic as the doctor they treat is followed by the press; he is almost depicted as a rock star. I am not sure whether that is the picture of doctors working in poor countries, but I just felt it was a bit unfair. But, I can also understand this notion, because I have heard stories and can understand for myself that this issue is brought up often when doctors return home from missions abroad.

I am not ready for the discussion ‘whether or not it is more or less altruistic to be a humanitarian’, but it is indeed a great question. Perhaps the aim of the episode was to ignite this thinking in the viewer? Perhaps that is the reason why the humanitarian doctor is depicted as attention-seeking and borderline obnoxiously nice?


This entry was posted on 23 december, 2012 by in Personligt/Personally and tagged , , , , , , , .
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