I found this week’s task a really difficult one to start off with. I found it difficult to find one genre that I liked across more than one type of media. I tend to like one or two genres for one type of media, and another genre for a different type of media. But, after thinking for quite a while, I realised that the crime genre was the genre that I could find different media objects within it that I liked.
These are the ones I selected from the crime/detective genre:
Trial & Retribution
Life On Mars
Ashes To Ashes
Sherlock Holmes- The Speckled Band http://cutewriting.blogspot.com/2008/08/adventure-of-speckled-band-sherlock.html
Sherlock Holmes- The Man With The Twisted Lip http://www.sherlock-holmes.org/canon-en/twis-eng.htm
- I read Sherlock Holmes for coursework in school, but I actually really enjoyed them.
1. What elements of each of the objects seem to be the same?
All the objects I have chosen share similar conventions of the crime genre. All have an ensemble cast and the books also have the popular convention of detective/sidekick. ‘Life on Mars’ and ‘Ashes to Ashes’ take this one step further in the fact that they have a maverick cop and conventional cop- which create binary opposition. A common convention of the crime genre that is evident in these texts the representation of women (with the exception of ‘Domino’) – women are portrayed as “sex objects”, the femme fetale being evident in ‘Ashes to Ashes’, ‘Life on Mars’ and ‘From Hell’ especially. Another conventional representation in these objects is the lack of characters from ethnic backgrounds. Both representations could suggest hegemony- that there is an ideology in the crime genre that the white man has the dominant values. Another convention of the crime genre that is shown in these media texts (with the exception of the books- although I am sure they would use the conventions in any adaptations) is the use of lighting. The lighting depicts the good/bad characters, the light/dark binary opposition is hilights the good/bad characters. The use of colour is also a convention of these media objects (again with the exception of the books- although I am sure they would use the conventions in any adaptations). Colours are conventionally used in the crime genre to express feelings/characters/moods; for example in ‘Ashes to Ashes’ the red dress and red lipstick on the character of Alex and the character of Stacie in ‘Hustle’ displays the convention of the femme fetale. The character of Mickey in ‘Hustle’ and Gene in ‘Ashes to Ashes’ often wear blue shirts, showing the cool and calm nature of their characters. The way the narratives are constructed are also similar, the narrative of the crime genre is one of it’s conventions. The narrative includes a “red herring”- this is particularly evident in ‘Sherlock Holmes’ -there are also often flashbacks- particularly in ‘Hustle’ – and often the narrative is inter-polated, different stories or events inter-woven and only at the end do they come together. They are all also filmed in a similar sharp style. Another convention is the flaw in one of the main cops/detectives; Gent Hunt (Life on Mars & Ashes to Ashes) drinks too much and is violent, Satchell (Trial and Retribution) smokes too much, Danny(Hustle) is sometimes over-keen, Inspector Abberline (From Hell) is a regular drug user, Sherlock Holmes is also a drug user- he is addicted to opium- and Frank (Catch Me If You Can) tries to push himself and better himself too much. Finally, they all have iconography in them – guns, money, alcohol, smoking.
2. What elements mark each object out as being different from the rest that you have chosen?
‘Trial and Retribution’ is different from the other objects as the female character in it is not a femme fetale, Roisin is a strong woman. It also is different as it uses split screens extensively. ‘Hustle’ is different mainly because it isn’t a traditional detective narrative, it is about con artists and moreover, the narrative is told from their point of view and the audience want them to “get away” with the con ‘Hustle’ goes even further in that the detective is represented as harsh and ruthless and even slightly corrupt- putting the audience on the con artists “side” even more. Also ‘Hustle’ is different in it’s representations as it has a character from a black background. In addition, ‘Hustle’ uses flashbacks extensively and it uses freeze frames a lot too – making it different. ‘Life on Mars’ is extremely conventional, but the main way in which it stands out, is the fact that it has a sci-fi/fantasy element to it as it is set in the 1970’s, about a detective that goes back in time. ‘Ashes to Ashes’ also is about a detective that goes back in time, but this time to the 1980’s, making it different as it is set in the past. ‘Ashes to Ashes’ is also different as the femme fetale is a femme fetale, but she is also a strong woman who us successful in her career who has power in her job. ‘Public Enemies’ is different as it is set in the 1930’s and it is based on a true story. ‘From Hell’ is different because the main detective dies at the end and the mystery is never solved. ‘Domino’ is different because the main character is a strong woman and it is based on a true story. ‘The Speckled Band’ is different as it is told from the sidekick’s point of view, meaning that the reader doesn’t understand the narrative the same as the sidekick until the end. ‘The Man With the Twisted Lip’ stands out because it includes a representation of a character with a disability- despite the fact that it is a red herring. ‘Catch Me If You Can’ is different as it is based solely on a true story.
3. How might the audience understand the object?
An active audience would understand the objects for what they are- media constructions for entertainment. A passive audience may fall subject to hegemony (as discussed before) and accept the dominant ideologies that white males are prodominant in the policing/detective job sector.
4. What kinds of pleasure might the audience get from each object?
The main audience gratification is entertainment. Also possibly social integration- they may talk about the programmes/films/books with peers. Definitely not information thought. Audiences may also get personal development from the texts; they may look to the strong females in an aspirational way.
Find and interview at least one person a) who shares your love of the genre and b) who really dislikes the genre. What does person (a) really like and is there anything they don’t like? Why does person (b) dislike it so much and is there anything they do like?
a) Why they like the genre- “The crime genre is interesting and they give you something to think about sometimes. It isn’t just run-of-the-mill stuff. If it’s really good it makes you think. They’re usually well written stories that keep you interested.”
Something they don’t like about the genre- “Sometimes it’s repetitive and if a crime book that’s not written as well as television or films usually are; then it can get a bit confusing with all the different characters, evidence, red herrings and different points of view. Also, if television or films aren’t well produced then it makes what might’ve been a good story difficult to follow.”
b) Why they dislike the genre- “It scares me and makes me paranoid about crime!”
Something they do like about it- “Sometimes the criminals are good looking!