Mark Harmon, currently under a public magnifying glass following Pauley Perrette’s physical assault allegations, has been the face of NCIS since 2003. Serving as the show’s lead actor and executive producer, Mark Harmon’s value to the CBS network is indisputable. Thus, his silence remains a mystery.
Is Harmon innocent, and waiting for the dust to settle? Or, are he and the head honchos over at CBS working to construct an appropriate apology, while painting the story from his perspective? Many fans argue that Harmon is innocent, citing Pauley Perrette’s “history of lies” as evidence.
If Harmon is proven innocent, NCIS will continue on as it did before; however, if proven guilty, the show could face a drastic drop in viewership, as well as widespread public backlash. Relying on the age-old saying, “innocent until proven guilty,” it may be best to assume that Harmon is the good-natured gentleman fans believe him to be until further information is provided (from a reputable, uninvolved source).
Yet, as we await further information, it’s integral to assess why and how Mark Harmon has built his “good-natured man” persona? How long has Mark Harmon held a reputation as a trustworthy, old-school kind of guy with gentlemanly values and morals – a man who would never bring a dog around set just to intimidate a co-worker? Could this public persona have anything to do with the 16 years he has spent playing Agent Gibbs?
The dangers of amalgamating Mark Harmon and his ‘NCIS’ character Agent Gibbs
Let’s discuss the character – as opposed to the man – who has captured viewers’ hearts for over a decade: Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Gibbs is brave in the face of adversity. He has systematic ground rules he works diligently to obey. He has a protective nature – standing up for those he loves, and putting his own life on the line to keep others out of harm’s way.
While we can admire Gibbs, is it appropriate to draw an invisible line connecting him to the man, and 80s heartthrob, portraying the part? Is the Halo effect coming into play here? How many times have you heard “Mark Harmon is Gibbs,” just like “Robert Downey Jr. Is Iron Man,” always with that over-emphasis on is, as if the point would not stand otherwise?
Unfortunately, the more we amalgamate the two – Harmon and Gibbs – the more scrutiny Perrette faces, which fails to give the alleged victim the benefit of the doubt. Do fans insist Gibbs is innocent to avoid accepting a harsher truth? Do fans wish to believe Mark Harmon could never be so aggressive as to “body check” a castmate, as TMZ reported?
What it means for ‘NCIS’ fans if Mark Harmon is guilty
If Gibbs is innocent, NCIS fans, and Mark Harmon admirers alike, can continue watching the show; they can continue supporting the series without such behavior becoming morally questionable.
If Gibbs is guilty – and Pauley Perrette’s allegations are true – fans have to accept that the man they have come to know and love is not who he appears to be every Tuesday night. This will not sit well with fans. Harmon has built a connection with his fanbase – one built upon his reputation as an admirable man.
Pauley Perrette’s allegations dare to imply otherwise; yet, until such allegations become factually grounded, fans will continue denying the possibility. Not because they don’t wish to believe Perrette; rather, they don’t wish to face the cognitive dissonance that such a truth would catalyze.
Not to mention, fans likely don’t want to stop watching the show. As cynical as this reasoning may be, it likely plays a large role in the widespread support following Harmon.