Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Monday, September 08, 2008

There's Just One Little Thing....

A long time ago I was involved in writing the script for an online murder mystery game called 'Love Lies Bleeding'. In researching my story I had an opportunity to cap a childhood fascination with true life killers and crime. Jack, Dr Crippen, The Acid Bath Murder, Ed Gein, etc.; they all held a ghoulish appeal for me. The more ingenious their style of dispatch the better. For instance think of the Acid Bath Murderer dissolving away his victim's corpse, only getting caught when the remains of his victim - her kidney stones - were found on his gravel drive. Just how childish this taste of mine was can be seen by how I equally lapped up Agatha Christie novels as if they were somehow extensions of these crimes. That there was a real human dimension, the victims, seemed to pass me by. They were mere markers in a fiendish chess game between the criminals and law and order. Crippen was just one more celebrity villain on Columbo. And like Wile Coyote on Roadrunner, I always used to root for the bad guys and hate it when the little mac-clad detective came back to say, 'But there's just one little thing....'
How times have changed. Though I would be something of a horror fan, today I have no real interest in serial killer movies. 'Psycho' and 'Halloween' are the only real standouts of the genre for me, each for the beauty of the film-making and the depth of their stories (a psychological depth in one, a pseudo-supernatural one in the other). I suppose 'The Honeymoon Killers' is up there too (and probably 'Peeping Tom'), but I find 'Friday the 13th' etc. risible. (And don't get me started on Lucio Fulci!). Today it's hard for me to see such fare without seeing the innocents put in the monster's way. All I see are the victims. Disposable teens or not, I can't see people as pieces any more (and I'd really prefer not to see them in pieces).
Now it's my mother who pigs out on a diet of 'CSI' and 'Forensic Detectives' on the Discovery Channel. I haven't watched 'Columbo' in a very long time, but I guess his style of detection, like that of Poirot or Marple, is a chess game far removed from real killers. It's Scooby Doo for the armchair set. CSI is also in this bracket. The oddball Petersen solving crime like a better equipped Nero Wolf, is just another in a long line of chess players. I do object to that Forensic Detectives muck which is nothing but pornography of the very worst kind. There are real people there and pain enough without it being trotted out for entertainment. There is a very, very real distinction between the clever detective story and real murder. Still I suppose I was once one of those viewers in my way. Paradoxically it is the 'real crime' programme that is really for children (sorry, mom), because one needs a child-like engagement in order to distance oneself from the reality being depicted. I suppose in many ways the world of the child and the sociopath are not all that dissimilar. (And no, I'm not really implying my mother is a sociopath, really I'm not...she wouldn't hurt a fly....)

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