Crime Tropes

Maddd Science

Okay, when I picked this theme, I had one article and figured I'd dig up some more. Sadly I was way too busy the past two weeks, and basically just have a few crime-themed articles followed by my usual link hodgepodge. You know what they say, it's better to be consistant than... uh, good?

Anyway, this article's all about my favorite subject: Unpacking and improving moldy genre tropes.

Inverting — and Avoiding — the Dead Girl Trope
Carolyn Murnick and Alex Segura, Crime Reads

I just think writers—especially men who might not be fully tuned in to how embedded the dead girl trope has become in our culture—should really try to be more open to adding weight and consequence to every action, and to give life and meaning to the people—the women—that populate their fictional worlds. Not just the ones that die, either. Spend as much time fleshing out the love interest, the mom, the best friend—you might surprise yourself by what you find, and where this effort takes you. Ask yourself—is it fair to this character to just have them be a nameless, brutalized woman? Is your hero truly a hero if they don’t explore this? Treat these characters as real people and your fiction will feel stronger and more genuine. Because, isn’t that what we’re shooting for when we write these stories? Some kind of truth?

One of the better #content opportunitites to come out of the superhero movie trend is that Vulture's Abraham Riesman gets to use every new movie as an excuse to whip up an article digging into comics history. Here's how an obscure 1973 Batman issue created the Joker as we know him.

How the Joker Became Batman’s Ultimate Villain
Abraham Riesman, Vulture

Martin Nodell invented the Green Lantern in the 1940s, but the only reason you’ve heard his name was due to a complete reimagining of his world in the ’60s by John Broome and Gil Kane. The X-Men originated in a 1963 comic written by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, but it was only with the arrival of writer Chris Claremont more than a decade later that the mutants truly crystallized into the versions that are currently famous. The reason Daredevil has had a movie and a TV show is because Frank Miller reinvented him in the ’80s. And so on. But the same thing can happen with villains: Mister Freeze was a tossed-off gimmick until Batman: The Animated Series made him a tragic figure; Magneto gained a core component of his character when he was retrofitted with a Jewish identity; and, perhaps lesser known than the others, there’s the rebirth of the Joker.

Why Men Pretend to Be Women to Sell Thrillers
Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic

That idea became The Surrogate, a crime thriller published in 2009, and Waites simultaneously became Tania Carver, his female alter ego. Before he started writing, he embarked on a period of research, reading novels by popular female crime writers, and made “copious notes” about their various heroes and villains. Waites was an actor before he was a writer, and “Martyn” and “Tania” soon became different personas in his head, almost like characters. He’d sit down to write as Tania and then realize the concept was much better suited to Martyn. Martyn books, he explains, “were more complex, more metaphorical. The kind of things I like in writing.” Tania books were simpler: mainstream commercial thrillers aimed at a female audience. And they rapidly became more successful than any of Waites’s previous books had been.

I'm gonna take this space to declare that I'll never write under a woman's name to sell more books. May future Twitterstorians dig this claim up to publicly shame me should I ever renege on it.

So why do woman love reading crime? The answer is simple: It's complicated. Here's an interview that gets into it.

Rachel Monroe's Savage Appetites Examines the Complicated Reasons Women Love True Crime
Hazel Cills and Rachel Monroe, Jezebel

"The other thing that frustrated me is that these stories were often talked about as a monolith. I started realizing that there are these different women whose stories I had just been following as a curious person and that they could, in the diversity of their experiences and their interests, get at the different ways this plays out. I realized that they slotted into these categories, that they each sort of seemed to identify with a different subject position. I remember sitting at a bar with a friend of mine talking about Francis Glessner Lee and how she was a wannabe detective. In that exact moment, I was like, oh, she wanted to be the detective, and this other woman kind of wanted to be the victim. They were so different because they imagined themselves in these different roles."

I love the structure of this article recommending ten songs that define the Japanese City Pop genre. Each song has a quick paragraph explaining why it's important and signposting a few elements that the casual listener (me) can pick out while playing the linked YouTube video. Accessible, comprehensive. At least I assume it's comprehensive, it's not like I would know if it wasn't.

The Unsolved Case of the Most Mysterious Song on the Internet
David Browne, Rolling Stone

But at a time when any tidbit about anything can be called up online in a matter of seconds, the song that may be “Like the Wind” is a source of fascination and wonder for thousands of people dedicated to finding the people who created it. “I think the fact that I’m so interested in this isn’t even because of the song itself — it’s understanding why this song is so mysterious and why nobody can find anything about it,” Vieira admits. “It’s simply surreal.” In other words, as Zúñiga puts it, “Apart from the song itself being so catchy, it’s exactly the fact that people cannot locate it in four seconds that makes it interesting.”

Really interesting article about shifting consumer trends in audio/visual media:

Entertainment Is Getting Even Shorter, And Even Longer. What About The ‘Purgatory’ In The Middle?
Cherie Hu, Music Business Worldwide

As long as artists and music companies strive to stand out and continue to treat attention as a zero-sum game, they will continue to fetishize extremes in a similar way, giving everyday “normality” lower and lower returns. In this environment, “middle-form” content does not become useless per se, so much as it becomes bait for more and more urgent questions about what’s next: “Cool, but how is this going to go viral?” or “Cool — but what’s the bigger story?” Today, those kinds of extremes hold most of our curiosity — and our money.

Finally, here's a list of all the best Halloween Netflix movies this year.

Next Time on Maddd Science: Reboots That Won't Happen Because They'd Actually Be Good

Header image: “the corpse candle,” by Daniel Williams.

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